[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 80 (Thursday, April 25, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 24515-24574]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-09598]



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Vol. 78

Thursday,

No. 80

April 25, 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 the Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog, the Northern Distinct 
Population Segment of the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, and the Yosemite 
Toad; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 80 / Thursday, April 25, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0074; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY07


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Critical Habitat for the Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog, the Northern 
Distinct Population Segment of the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, and the 
Yosemite Toad

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to designate 
critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern 
distinct population segment (DPS) (populations that occur north of the 
Tehachapi Mountains) of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the 
Yosemite toad under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). In total, we propose to designate as critical habitat 
approximately 447,341 hectares (1,105,400 acres) for the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El 
Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Alpine, Mariposa, Mono, Madera, Tuolumne, 
Fresno, and Inyo Counties, California; approximately 89,637 hectares 
(221,498 acres) for the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog 
in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California; and approximately 303,889 
hectares (750,926 acres) for the Yosemite toad in Alpine, Tuolumne, 
Mono, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Inyo Counties, California.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before June 
24, 2013. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. 
Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for public 
hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section by June 10, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-
2012-0074, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the 
Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type 
heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You 
may submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2012-0074; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see Information Requested below for more information).
    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/sacramento, 
www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2012-0074, and at the 
Sacramento 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: Jan Knight, Acting Field Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 
2800 Cottage Way Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; by telephone 916-
414-6600; or by facsimile 916-414-6712. 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. Under the Act, critical habitat 
shall be designated, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, 
for any species determined to be an endangered or threatened species 
under the Act. Designations and revisions of critical habitat can only 
be completed by issuing a rule.
    This rule proposes to designate critical habitat for the Sierra 
Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern distinct population segment of 
the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad.
     We are proposing critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog under the Endangered Species Act. In total, 
approximately 447,341 hectares (1,105,400 acres) are being proposed for 
designation as critical habitat in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Sierra, 
Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Alpine, Mariposa, Mono, 
Madera, Tuolumne, Fresno, and Inyo Counties, California.
     We are proposing critical habitat for the northern DPS of 
the mountain yellow-legged frog under the Endangered Species Act. In 
total, approximately 89,637 hectares (221,498 acres) are being proposed 
for designation as critical habitat in Fresno and Tulare Counties, 
California.
     We are proposing critical habitat for the Yosemite toad 
under the Endangered Species Act. In total, approximately 303,889 
hectares (750,926 acres) are being proposed for designation as critical 
habitat in Alpine, Tuolumne, Mono, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Inyo 
Counties, California.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, any species that is 
determined to be a threatened or endangered species shall, to the 
maximum extent prudent and determinable, have habitat designated that 
is considered to be critical habitat. Section 4(b)(2) of the Endangered 
Species Act states that the Secretary shall designate and make 
revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the best available 
scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, 
national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying 
any particular area as critical habitat. The Secretary may exclude an 
area from critical habitat if he determines that the benefits of such 
exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the 
critical habitat, unless he determines, based on the best scientific 
data available, that the failure to designate such area as critical 
habitat will result in the extinction of the species.
    We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from 
knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our 
analysis of the best available science and application of that science 
and to provide any additional scientific information to improve this 
proposed rule. Because we will consider all comments and information 
received during the comment period, our final determination may differ 
from this proposal.

Information Requested

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

[[Page 24517]]

other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the 
scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties 
concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments 
concerning:
    (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
critical habitat under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 
including whether there are threats to these species from human 
activity, the degree of which can be expected to increase due to the 
designation, and whether that increase in threat outweighs the benefit 
of designation such that the designation of critical habitat is not 
prudent.
    (2) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged 
frog, the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and Yosemite 
toad, and their habitats;
    (b) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical range 
currently occupied by the species;
    (c) Where these features are currently found;
    (d) Whether any of these features may require special management 
considerations or protection;
    (e) What areas occupied at the time of listing and that contain 
features essential to the conservation of these species should be 
included in the designation, and why; and
    (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential 
for the conservation of these species, and why.
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
areas occupied by the species or proposed to be designated as critical 
habitat, and possible impacts of these activities on these species and 
their proposed critical habitats.
    (4) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern 
DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad, and on 
their proposed critical habitats. We also seek information on special 
management considerations or protection that may be needed in the 
proposed critical habitat areas, including management for the potential 
effects of climate change.
    (5) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant 
impacts that may result from designating any area as critical habitat 
that may be included in the final designation. We are particularly 
interested in any impacts on small entities, and the benefits of 
including or excluding areas from the proposed designation that are 
subject to these impacts.
    (6) Whether any specific areas proposed for critical habitat 
designation should be considered for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of 
the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding any specific 
area outweigh the benefits of including that area under section 4(b)(2) 
of the Act.
    (7) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating 
public concerns and comments.
    (8) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation 
of critical habitat and how the consequences of such reactions, if 
likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory 
benefits of the proposed critical habitat designation.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section.
    We will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. You may request 
at the top of your document that we withhold personal information such 
as your street address, phone number, or email address from public 
review; however, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Previous Federal Actions

    Please see the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today's 
Federal Register for a complete history of previous Federal actions.
    On September 9, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Columbia approved a settlement agreement laying out a multi-year 
listing work plan for addressing candidate species, including the 
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern distinct population 
segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad. As 
part of this agreement, the Service agreed to publish a proposed rule 
in the Federal Register on whether to list these species and designate 
critical habitat by September 30, 2013. This is the proposed rule to 
designate critical habitat for these species.

Background

    It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly 
relevant to the designation of critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog 
and the Yosemite toad in this section of the proposed rule. For more 
information on these species' taxonomy, life history, habitat, and 
population descriptions, refer to the 12-month finding published 
January 25, 2007 (72 FR 34557) and the proposed listing rule published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register for the Sierra Nevada yellow-
legged frog and the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog and 
the 12-month finding published in December 10, 2002 (67 FR 75834) and 
the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today's Federal 
Register for the Yosemite toad.
    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by a 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or

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carry out is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat.
    The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership 
or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other 
conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government or 
public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner 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 obligation of the Federal action 
agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but 
to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction 
or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing are included in a critical habitat designation if they contain 
physical or biological features (1) that are essential to the 
conservation of the species and (2) that 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 
essential to the conservation of the species (such as space, food, 
cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those physical and 
biological features within an area, we focus on the principal 
biological or physical constituent elements (primary constituent 
elements (PCEs), such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal 
wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that are essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographic 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 geographic area 
occupied by a species only when a designation limited to its present 
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 we should designate 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 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 
conservation plans developed by States and counties, scientific status 
surveys and studies, biological assessments, other unpublished 
materials, or experts' opinions or personal knowledge.
    Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another 
over time. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a 
particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that 
we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. 
For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that 
habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed 
for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the 
conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical 
habitat designation, will continue to be subject to: (1) Conservation 
actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) regulatory 
protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act 
for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species, and (3) the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act if actions 
occurring in these areas may affect the species. Federally funded or 
permitted projects affecting listed species outside their designated 
critical habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some 
cases. These protections and conservation tools will continue to 
contribute to recovery of these species. Similarly, critical habitat 
designations made on the basis of the best available information at the 
time of designation will not control the direction and substance of 
future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other 
species conservation planning efforts if new information available at 
the time of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome.

Prudency Determination

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at 
the time the species is determined to be endangered or threatened. Our 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of 
critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following 
situations exist: (1) The species is threatened by taking or other 
human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be expected 
to increase the degree of threat to the species, or (2) such 
designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
    There is currently no imminent threat of take attributed to 
collection or vandalism under Factor B for these species, and 
identification and mapping of critical habitat is not expected to 
initiate any such threat. In the absence of finding that the 
designation of critical habitat would increase threats to a species, if 
there are any benefits to a critical habitat designation, then a 
prudent finding is warranted. Here, the potential benefits of 
designation include: (1) Triggering consultation under section 7 of the 
Act, in new areas for actions in which there may be a Federal nexus 
where it would not otherwise occur because, for example, it is or has 
become unoccupied or the occupancy is in question; (2) focusing 
conservation activities on the most essential features and areas; (3) 
providing educational benefits to State or county governments or 
private entities; and (4) preventing people from causing inadvertent 
harm to the species. Therefore, because we have determined that the 
designation of critical habitat will not likely increase the degree of 
threat to the species and may provide some measure of benefit, we find 
that designation of critical habitat is prudent for the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog, northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog and 
the Yosemite toad.

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Critical Habitat Determinability

    Having determined that designation is prudent, under section 
4(a)(3) of the Act we must find whether critical habitat for the 
species is determinable. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) state 
that critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the 
following situations exist:
    (i) Information sufficient to perform required analyses of the 
impacts of the designation is lacking, or
    (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well 
known to permit identification of an area as critical habitat. When 
critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the Service an 
additional year to publish a critical habitat designation (16 U.S.C. 
1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)).
    We reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological 
needs of the species and habitat characteristics where the species is 
located. This and other information represent the best scientific data 
available and led us to conclude that the designation of critical 
habitat is determinable for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad.
Physical or Biological Features
    In accordance with sections 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
and regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas within the 
geographic area occupied by the species at the time of listing to 
designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species and 
which may require special management considerations or protection. 
These include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior;
    (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;
    (3) Cover or shelter;
    (4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) 
of offspring; and
    (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are 
representative of the historical, geographic, and ecological 
distributions of a species.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features required for 
the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS of the mountain 
yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad from studies of the species' 
habitat, ecology, and life history as described below. We have 
determined that the following physical or biological features are 
essential to the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS of 
the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad:
Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Complex
Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    Mountain yellow-legged frogs are highly aquatic (Stebbins 1951, p. 
340; Mullally and Cunningham 1956a, p. 191; Bradford et al. 1993, p. 
886). Although they tend to stay closely associated with high-elevation 
water bodies, they are capable of longer distance travel, whether along 
stream courses or over land in between breeding, foraging, and 
overwintering habitat within lake complexes. Individuals may use 
different water bodies or different areas within the same water body 
for breeding, foraging, and overwintering (Matthews and Pope 1999, pp. 
620-623; Wengert 2008, p. 18). Within water bodies, adults and tadpoles 
prefer shallower areas and shelves (Mullally and Cunningham 1956a, p. 
191; Jennings and Hayes 1994, p. 77) with solar exposure (features 
rendering these areas warmer (Bradford 1984, p. 973), which also make 
them more suitable for prey species). High-elevation habitats tend to 
have lower relative productivity (suggesting populations are often 
resource limited), as sufficient space is also needed to avoid 
competition with other frogs and tadpoles for limited food resources.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify high-
elevation water bodies, lake and pond complexes, and adjacent lands 
within and proximate to water bodies utilized by extant frog 
metapopulations (mountain lakes and streams) to be a physical or 
biological feature needed by mountain yellow-legged frogs to provide 
space for their individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior.
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    Adult mountain yellow-legged frogs are thought to feed 
preferentially upon terrestrial insects and adult stages of aquatic 
insects while on the shore and in shallow water (Bradford 1983, p. 
1171); however, feeding studies on mountain yellow-legged frogs in the 
Sierra Nevada are limited. Remains found inside the stomachs of 
mountain yellow-legged frogs in southern California represented a wide 
variety of invertebrates, including beetles, ants, bees, wasps, flies, 
true bugs, and dragonflies (Long 1970, p. 7). Larger frogs have been 
observed to eat more aquatic true bugs (Order Hemiptera) (Jennings and 
Hayes 1994, p. 77). Adult mountain yellow-legged frogs have also been 
found to eat Yosemite toad tadpoles (Mullally 1953, p. 183; Zeiner et 
al. 1988, p. 88) and Pacific treefrog tadpoles (Pope 1999b, p. 163-
164), and they are also cannibalistic (Heller 1960, p. 127; Vredenburg 
et al. 2005, p. 565).
    Mountain yellow-legged frog tadpoles graze on benthic detritus, 
algae, and diatoms along rocky bottoms in streams, lakes, and ponds 
(Bradford 1983, p. 1171; Zeiner et al. 1988, p. 88). Tadpoles have also 
been observed cannibalizing eggs (Vredenburg 2000, p. 170) and feeding 
on the carcasses of dead metamorphosed frogs (Vredenburg et al. 2005, 
p. 565). Other species may compete with frogs and tadpoles for limited 
food resources. Introduced fishes are the primary competitors, reducing 
the available prey base for mountain yellow-legged frogs (Finlay and 
Vredenburg 2007, p. 2187).
    The ecosystems utilized by mountain yellow-legged frogs have 
inherent community dynamics that sustain the food web. Habitats, 
therefore, must maintain sufficient water quality to sustain the frogs 
within the tolerance range of healthy individual frogs, as well as 
acceptable ranges for maintaining the underlying ecological community. 
These key physical parameters include pH, temperature, nutrients, and 
uncontaminated water. The high-elevation habitats that support mountain 
yellow-legged frogs require sufficient sunlight to warm the water where 
they congregate, and to allow subadults and adults to sun themselves.
    Persistence of frog populations is dependent on a sufficient volume 
of water feeding into their habitats to provide the aquatic conditions 
necessary to sustain multiyear tadpoles through metamorphosis. This 
makes the hydrologic basin (or catchment area) a critical source of 
water for supplying downgradient habitats. The catchment area sustains 
water levels in lakes and streams used by mountain yellow-legged frogs 
via surface and ground water transport, which are crucially important 
for maintaining frog habitat.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify sufficient 
quantity and quality of source waters that support habitat used by 
mountain yellow-legged frogs (including the balance of constituents to 
support a sustainable food web with a sufficient prey base), absence of 
competition from introduced fishes, exposure to solar radiation, and 
shallow (warmer) areas or shelves within ponds or pools to be a 
physical or biological feature needed by

[[Page 24520]]

mountain yellow-legged frogs to provide for their nutritional and 
physiological requirements.
Cover or Shelter
    Mountain yellow-legged frogs require conditions that allow for 
overwinter survival, including lakes or pools within streams that do 
not freeze to the bottom, or refugia within or adjacent to such systems 
(such as underwater crevices) so that overwintering tadpoles and frogs 
do not freeze or experience anoxic conditions during their winter 
dormancy period (Bradford 1983, pp. 1173-1179; Matthews and Pope 1999, 
pp. 622-623; Pope 1999a, pp. 42-43; Vredenburg et al. 2005, p. 565). 
Cover for adults to protect themselves from terrestrial and avian 
predators is also an important habitat feature, especially in cases 
where aquatic habitat itself does not provide adequate protection from 
terrestrial or avian predators due to insufficient water depth. 
Although cover within aquatic habitat may be important in the short 
term to avoid fish predation, the observation of low coexistence 
between introduced trout and frog populations (Knapp 1996, pp. 1-44) 
suggests that cover alone is insufficient to preclude extirpation by 
fish predation and competition.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify refuge from 
lethal overwintering conditions (freezing and anoxia), physical cover 
from avian and terrestrial predators, and lack of predation by 
introduced fishes to be a physical or biological feature needed by the 
mountain yellow-legged frog to provide cover and shelter.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing (or Development) of 
Offspring
    As described in the proposed listing determination published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register, mountain yellow-legged frogs are 
known to utilize habitats differently depending on season (Matthews and 
Pope 1999, pp. 620-623; Wengert 2008, p.18). Reproduction and rearing 
requires water bodies (or adequate refugia) that are sufficiently deep 
that they do not dry out in summer or freeze through in winter (except 
infrequently). Therefore, the conditions within the catchment for these 
habitats must be maintained such that sufficient volume and timing of 
snowmelt and adequate transport of precipitation to these rearing water 
bodies sustain the appropriate balance of conditions to maintain 
mountain yellow-legged frog life-history needs. Conditions that 
determine the depth, siltation rates, or persistence of these water 
bodies are key determinants of habitat functionality (within tolerance 
ranges of each particular system). Finally, pre-breeding adult frogs 
need access to these water bodies in cases where these populations are 
utilizing different breeding and nonbreeding habitat.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we find the persistence 
of breeding and rearing habitats and access to and from seasonal 
habitat areas (whether via aquatic or terrestrial migration) to be a 
physical or biological feature needed by the mountain yellow-legged 
frog to allow successful reproduction and development of offspring.
Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Representative of the 
Historical, Geographic, and Ecological Distributions of the Species
    In addition to migration routes (areas that provide back and forth 
between habitat patches within the metapopulation) without impediments 
across the landscape between proximal ponds within the ranges of 
functional metapopulations, mountain yellow-legged frogs require 
dispersal corridors (areas for recolonization and range expansion of 
further areas) to reestablish populations in extirpated areas within 
its current range to provide ecological and geographic resiliency (USFS 
et al. 2009, p. 35). Maintenance and reestablishment of such 
populations across a diversity of ecological landscapes is necessary to 
provide sufficient protection against changing environmental 
circumstances (such as climate change). This provides functional 
redundancy to safeguard against stochastic events (such as wildfires), 
but this redundancy also may be necessary as different regions or 
microclimates respond to changing climate conditions.
    Establishing or maintaining populations across a broad geographic 
area spreads out the risk to individual populations across the range of 
the species, thereby conferring species resilience. Finally, protecting 
a wide range of habitats across the occupied range of the species 
simultaneously maintains genetic diversity of the species, which 
protects the underlying integrity of the major genetic clades 
(Vredenburg et al. 2007, pp. 370-371), whose persistence is important 
to the ecological fitness of these species as a whole (Allentoft and 
O'Brien 2010 pp. 47-71; Johansson et al. 2007, pp. 2693-2700).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify dispersal 
routes (generally fish free), habitat connectivity, and a diversity of 
high-quality habitats across multiple watersheds throughout the 
geographic extent of the species' ranges and sufficiently 
representative of the major genetic clades to be a physical or 
biological feature needed by the mountain yellow-legged frog.
Yosemite Toad
Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    As summarized in the proposed listing determination published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register, the Yosemite toad is commonly 
associated with wet meadow habitats in the Sierra Nevada of California. 
It occupies aquatic, riparian, and upland habitat throughout a majority 
of its range. Suitable habitat for the Yosemite toad is created and 
maintained by the natural hydrologic and ecological processes that 
occur within the aquatic breeding habitats and adjacent upland areas. 
Yosemite toads have been documented breeding in wet meadows and slow-
flowing streams (Jennings and Hayes 1994, pp. 50-53), shallow ponds, 
and shallow areas of lakes (Mullally 1953, pp. 182-183). Upland habitat 
use varies among the different sexes and life stages of the toad 
(Morton and Pereyra 2010, p. 391); however, all Yosemite toads utilize 
areas within at least 850 m (2,789 ft) of breeding sites for foraging 
and overwintering, with juveniles predominantly overwintering in close 
proximity to breeding areas (Martin 2008, p. 154; Morton and Pereyra 
2010, p. 391).
    Yosemite toads must be able to move between aquatic breeding 
habitats, upland foraging sites, and overwintering areas. Yosemite 
toads have been documented to move a maximum of 1.26 km (0.78 mi) 
between breeding and upland habitats (Liang 2010, p. ii). Based on 
observational data from three previous studies, Liang et al. (2010, p. 
6) estimated the maximum travel distance for the Yosemite toad to be 
1.5 km (0.9 mi). Upland habitat used for foraging includes lush meadows 
with herbaceous vegetation (Morton and Pereyra 2010, p. 390), alpine-
dwarf scrub, red fir, lodgepole pine, and subalpine conifer vegetation 
types (Liang 2010, p. 81), and the edges of talus slopes (Morton and 
Pereyra 2010, p. 391).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify both lentic 
(still) and lotic (flowing) water bodies, including meadows, and 
adjacent upland habitats with sufficient refugia (for example, logs, 
rocks) and overwintering habitat that provide space for normal behavior 
to be a physical or biological feature needed by Yosemite toads for 
their

[[Page 24521]]

individual and population growth and for normal behavior.
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    Little is known about the diet of Yosemite toad tadpoles. However, 
their diet presumably approximates that of related Anaxyrus species, 
and likely consists of microscopic algae, bacteria, and protozoans. 
Given their life history, it is logical to presume they are 
opportunistic generalists. Martin (1991, pp. 22-23) reports tadpoles 
foraging on detritus and plant materials (algae), but also identifies 
Yosemite toad tadpoles as potential opportunistic predators, having 
observed them feeding on the larvae of Pacific chorus frog and 
predaceous diving beetle, that may have been dead or live. The adult 
Yosemite toad diet comprises a large variety of insects, with 
Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees, sawflies, horntails) comprising the 
largest proportion of the summer prey base (Martin 1991, pp. 19-22).
    The habitats utilized by the Yosemite toad have inherent community 
dynamics that sustain the food web. Habitats also must maintain 
sufficient water quality and moisture availability to sustain the toads 
throughout their life stages, so that key physical parameters within 
the tolerance range of healthy individual frogs, as well as acceptable 
ranges for maintaining the underlying ecological community, are 
maintained. These parameters include, but are not limited to, pH, 
temperature, precipitation, slope, aspect, vegetation, and lack of 
anthropogenic contaminants at harmful concentrations. Yosemite toad 
locations are associated with low slopes, specific vegetation types 
(wet meadow, alpine-dwarf shrub, montane chaparral, red fir, and 
subalpine conifer), and certain temperature regimes (Liang and 
Stohlgren 2011, p. 217).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify sufficient 
quantities and quality of source waters, adequate prey resources and 
the balance of constituents to support the natural food web, low 
slopes, and specific vegetation communities to be a physical or 
biological feature needed by Yosemite toads to provide for their 
nutritional and physiological requirements.
Cover or Shelter
    When not actively foraging, Yosemite toads take refuge under 
surface objects, including logs and rocks (Stebbins 1951, pp. 245-248; 
Karlstrom 1962, pp. 9-10), and in rodent burrows (Liang 2010, p. 95). 
Thus, areas of shelter interspersed with other moist environments, such 
as seeps and springs, are necessary. Yosemite toads also utilize rodent 
burrows (Jennings and Hayes 1994, pp. 50-53), as well as cover under 
surface objects and below willows, for overwintering (Kagarise Sherman 
1980, pers. obs., as cited in Martin 2008, p. 158).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify surface 
objects, rodent burrows, and other cover or overwintering areas to be a 
physical or biological feature needed by the Yosemite toad to provide 
cover and shelter.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction or Rearing (or Development) of 
Offspring
    As summarized above, Yosemite toads are prolific breeders that lay 
their eggs at snowmelt. Suitable breeding and embryonic rearing habitat 
generally occurs in very shallow water at the edges of meadows or in 
slow-flowing runoff streams, but also consists of subalpine lentic and 
lotic habitats, including wet meadows, lakes, and small ponds, as well 
as shallow spring channels, side channels, and sloughs. Eggs typically 
hatch within 4 to 6 days (Karlstrom 1962, p. 19), with rearing through 
metamorphosis taking approximately 5 to 7 weeks after eggs are laid 
(USFS et al. 2009, p. 250). These times can vary depending on prey 
availability, temperature, and other abiotic factors.
    The suitability of breeding habitat may vary from year to year due 
primarily to the amount of precipitation and local temperatures. Given 
the variability of habitats available for breeding, the high site 
fidelity of breeding toads, an opportunistic breeding strategy, as well 
as the importance of lotic systems during periods of low precipitation 
(Roche et al. 2012, p. 60), Yosemite toads require a variety of aquatic 
habitats to successfully maintain populations.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify both lentic 
and slow-moving lotic aquatic systems that provide sufficient 
temperature for hatching and that maintain sufficient water for 
metamorphosis (a minimum of 4 weeks) to be a physical or biological 
feature needed by the Yosemite toad to allow for successful 
reproduction and development of offspring.
Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Representative of the 
Historical, Geographic, and Ecological Distributions of the Species
    In addition to migration routes without impediments between upland 
areas and breeding locations across the landscape, Yosemite toads 
require dispersal corridors to utilize a wide range of breeding 
habitats in order to provide ecological and geographic resiliency in 
the face of changing environmental circumstances (for example, 
climate). This provides functional redundancy to safeguard against 
stochastic events, such as wildfires, but also may be necessary as 
different regions or microclimates respond to changing climate 
conditions. Maintaining populations across a broad geographic extent 
also reduces the risk of a stochastic event that extirpates multiple 
populations across the range of the species, thereby conferring species 
resilience. Finally, protecting a wider range of habitats across the 
occupied range of the species can assist in maintaining the genetic 
diversity of the species.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify dispersal 
routes, habitat connectivity, and a diversity of habitats throughout 
the geographic extent of the species' range that sufficiently represent 
the distribution of the species (including inherent genetic diversity) 
to be a physical or biological feature needed by the Yosemite toad.

Primary Constituent Elements (PCEs) for the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog 
Complex and Yosemite Toad

    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the mountain yellow-legged frog complex and Yosemite 
toad in areas occupied at the time of listing (in this case, areas that 
are currently occupied), focusing on the features' PCEs. We consider 
PCEs to be the elements of physical or biological features that are 
essential to the conservation of the species.
Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Complex
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the PCEs specific to the 
Sierra Nevada and northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frogs are:
    (1) Aquatic habitat for breeding and rearing. Habitat that consists 
of permanent water bodies, or those that are either hydrologically 
connected with, or close to, permanent water bodies, including, but not 
limited to, lakes, streams, rivers, tarns, perennial creeks (or 
permanent plunge pools within intermittent creeks), pools (such as a 
body of impounded water contained above a natural dam), and other forms 
of aquatic habitat. This habitat must:

[[Page 24522]]

    (a) Be of sufficient depth not to freeze solid (to the bottom) 
during the winter (no less than 1.7 m (5.6 ft), but generally greater 
than 2.5 m (8.2 ft), and optimally 5 m (16.4 ft) or deeper (unless some 
other refuge from freezing is available)).
    (b) Maintain a natural flow pattern, including periodic flooding, 
and have functional community dynamics in order to provide sufficient 
productivity and a prey base to support the growth and development of 
rearing tadpoles and metamorphs.
    (c) Be free of fish and other introduced predators.
    (d) Maintain water during the entire tadpole growth phase (a 
minimum of 2 years). During periods of drought, these breeding sites 
may not hold water long enough for individuals to complete 
metamorphosis, but they may still be considered essential breeding 
habitat if they provide sufficient habitat in most years to foster 
recruitment within the reproductive lifespan of individual adult frogs.
    (e) Contain:
    (i) Bank and pool substrates consisting of varying percentages of 
soil or silt, sand, gravel, cobble, rock, and boulders;
    (ii) Shallower lake microhabitat with solar exposure to warm lake 
areas and to foster primary productivity of the food web;
    (iii) Open gravel banks and rocks projecting above or just beneath 
the surface of the water for adult sunning posts;
    (iv) Aquatic refugia, including pools with bank overhangs, downfall 
logs or branches, or rocks to provide cover from predators; and
    (v) Sufficient food resources to provide for tadpole growth and 
development.
    (2) Aquatic nonbreeding habitat (including overwintering habitat). 
This habitat may contain the same characteristics as aquatic breeding 
and rearing habitat (often at the same locale), and may include lakes, 
ponds, tarns, streams, rivers, creeks, plunge pools within intermittent 
creeks, seeps, and springs that may not hold water long enough for the 
species to complete its aquatic life cycle. This habitat provides for 
shelter, foraging, predator avoidance, and aquatic dispersal of 
juvenile and adult mountain yellow-legged frogs. Aquatic nonbreeding 
habitat contains:
    (a) Bank and pool substrates consisting of varying percentages of 
soil or silt, sand, gravel, cobble, rock, and boulders;
    (b) Open gravel banks and rocks projecting above or just beneath 
the surface of the water for adult sunning posts;
    (c) Aquatic refugia, including pools with bank overhangs, downfall 
logs or branches, or rocks to provide cover from predators;
    (d) Sufficient food resources to provide for tadpole growth and 
development;
    (e) Overwintering refugee, where thermal properties of the 
microhabitat protect hibernating life stages from winter freezing, such 
as crevices or holes within granite, in and near shore; and/or
    (f) Streams, stream reaches, or wet meadow habitats that can 
function as corridors for movement between aquatic habitats used as 
breeding or foraging sites.
    (3) Upland areas.
    (a) Upland areas adjacent to or surrounding breeding and 
nonbreeding aquatic habitat that provide area for feeding and movement 
by mountain yellow-legged frogs.
    (i) For stream habitats, this area extends 25 m (82 ft) from the 
bank or shoreline.
    (ii) In areas that contain riparian habitat and upland vegetation 
(for example, mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, montane hardwood conifer, 
and montane riparian woodlands), the canopy overstory should be 
sufficiently thin (generally not to exceed 85 percent) to allow 
sunlight to reach the aquatic habitat and thereby provide basking areas 
for the species.
    (iii) For areas between proximate (within 300m (984 ft)) water 
bodies (typical of some high mountain lake habitats), the upland area 
extends from the bank or shoreline between such water bodies.
    (iv) Within mesic habitats such as lake and meadow systems, the 
entire area of physically contiguous or proximate habitat is suitable 
for dispersal and foraging.
    (b) Upland areas (catchments) adjacent to and surrounding both 
breeding and nonbreeding aquatic habitat that provide for the natural 
hydrologic regime (water quantity) of aquatic habitats. These upland 
areas should also allow for the maintenance of sufficient water quality 
to provide for the various life stages of the frog and its prey base.
Yosemite Toad
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the PCEs specific to the 
Yosemite toad are:
    (1) Aquatic breeding habitat. (a) This habitat consists of bodies 
of fresh water, including wet meadows, slow-moving streams, shallow 
ponds, spring systems, and shallow areas of lakes, that:
    (i) Are typically (or become) inundated during snowmelt,
    (ii) Hold water for a minimum of 5 weeks, and
    (iii) Contain sufficient food for tadpole development.
    (b) During periods of drought or less than average rainfall, these 
breeding sites may not hold water long enough for individual Yosemite 
toads to complete metamorphosis, but they are still considered 
essential breeding habitat because they provide habitat in most years.
    (2) Upland areas. (a) This habitat consists of areas adjacent to or 
surrounding breeding habitat up to a distance of 1.25 km (0.78 mi) in 
most cases (that is, depending on surrounding landscape and dispersal 
barriers), including seeps, springheads, and areas that provide:
    (i) Sufficient cover (including rodent burrows, logs, rocks, and 
other surface objects) to provide summer refugia,
    (ii) Foraging habitat,
    (iii) Adequate prey resources,
    (iv) Physical structure for predator avoidance,
    (v) Overwintering refugia for juvenile and adult Yosemite toads,
    (vi) Dispersal corridors between aquatic breeding habitats,
    (vii) Dispersal corridors between breeding habitats and areas of 
suitable summer and winter refugia and foraging habitat, and/or
    (viii) The natural hydrologic regime of aquatic habitats (the 
catchment).
    (b) These upland areas should also allow maintain sufficient water 
quality to provide for the various life stages of the Yosemite toad and 
its prey base.
    With this proposed designation of critical habitat, we intend to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species through the identification of the PCEs 
sufficient to support the life-history processes of the species. All 
units and subunits proposed for designation as critical habitat are 
currently occupied by Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frogs, the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frogs, or Yosemite toads, 
and contain the PCEs sufficient to support the life-history needs of 
the species.
Special Management Considerations or Protection
    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographic area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing contain features that are essential to the conservation of the 
species and that may

[[Page 24523]]

require special management considerations or protection.
    The features essential to the conservation of the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog and northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog 
may require special management considerations or protection to reduce 
the following threats: The persistence of introduced trout populations 
in essential habitat; the effects from water withdrawals and 
diversions; impacts associated with timber harvest and fuels reduction 
activities; impacts associated with livestock grazing; and intensive 
use by recreationists, including packstock camping and grazing.
    Management activities that could ameliorate the threats described 
above include (but are not limited to) nonnative fish eradication; 
installation of fish barriers; modifications to fish stocking practices 
in certain water bodies; physical habitat restoration; and responsible 
management practices covering potentially incompatible activities, such 
as timber harvest and fuels management, water supply development and 
management, livestock and packstock grazing, and other recreational 
uses. These management practices will protect the PCEs for the mountain 
yellow-legged frog by reducing the stressors currently affecting 
population viability. Additionally, management of critical habitat 
lands will help maintain the underlying habitat quality, foster 
recovery, and sustain populations currently in decline.
    The features essential to the conservation of the Yosemite toad may 
require special management considerations or protection to reduce the 
following threats: Impacts associated with timber harvest and fuels 
reduction activity; impacts associated with livestock grazing; the 
spread of pathogens; and intensive use by recreationists, including 
packstock camping and grazing.
    Management activities that could ameliorate the threats described 
above include (but are not limited to) physical habitat restoration and 
responsible management practices covering potentially incompatible 
beneficial uses such as timber harvest and fuels management, water 
supply development and management, livestock and packstock grazing, and 
other recreational uses. These management activities will protect the 
PCEs for the Yosemite toad by reducing the stressors currently 
affecting population viability. Additionally, management of critical 
habitat lands will help maintain or enhance the necessary environmental 
components, foster recovery, and sustain populations currently in 
decline.
Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat
    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific data available to designate critical habitat. We review 
available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the 
species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulations at 
50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating additional areas 
outside those currently occupied are necessary to ensure the 
conservation of the species.
    In the case of the mountain yellow-legged frog complex and the 
Yosemite toad, we are proposing to designate critical habitat in areas 
within the geographic areas that are currently occupied by the species 
(see ``Current Range and Distribution'' section above). We are 
proposing to designate only geographic areas occupied by the species 
because the present geographic range is of similar extent to the 
historic range and therefore sufficient for the conservation of the 
species.
    When determining proposed critical habitat boundaries, we made 
every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered 
by buildings, pavement, and other structures because such lands lack 
physical or biological features for the mountain yellow-legged frog 
complex and the Yosemite toad. The scale of the maps we prepared under 
the parameters for publication within the Code of Federal Regulations 
may not reflect the exclusion of such developed lands. Any such lands 
inadvertently left inside critical habitat boundaries shown on the maps 
of this proposed rule have been excluded by text in the proposed rule 
and are not proposed for designation as critical habitat. Therefore, if 
the critical habitat is finalized as proposed, a Federal action 
involving these lands would not trigger section 7 consultation with 
respect to critical habitat and the requirement of no adverse 
modification unless the specific action would affect the physical or 
biological features in the adjacent critical habitat.
    We are proposing for designation of critical habitat units that we 
have determined based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information are known to be currently occupied and contain the primary 
constituent elements of the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the mountain yellow-legged frog complex and the 
Yosemite toad (under section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act). These species 
exhibit a metapopulation life-history model, and although they tend 
towards high site-fidelity, individuals within these populations can 
and do move through suitable habitat to take advantage of changing 
conditions in a dynamic fashion through space and time. Additional 
areas outside the aquatic habitat within each unit or subunit were 
incorporated to assist in maintaining the hydrology of the aquatic 
features and to recognize the importance of dispersal between 
populations. In most instances, we aggregated areas we know to be 
occupied, together with areas needed for hydrologic function and 
dispersal into single units or subunits as described at 50 CFR 
424.12(d) of our regulations. However, at any given moment, not all 
areas within each unit are being used by the species at all times, 
because, by definition, individuals within metapopulations move in 
space and time.
    For the purposes of this proposed rule, we equate the geographical 
area occupied at the time of listing with the current range for each of 
the species (50 CFR 424.12). Therefore, we propose to designate 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied at the time of 
listing (see criteria below) that are essential to the conservation of 
the species and which may require special management considerations or 
protection pursuant to section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act. Within the 
current range of the species, to the best of our knowledge, some 
watersheds may or may not be actively utilized by extant frog 
populations, but we consider these areas to be occupied at the scale of 
the geographic range of the species. We use the term utilized to refer 
to the finer geographic scale at the watershed or survey locality level 
of resolution.
    For this proposed rule, we completed the following basic steps to 
delineate critical habitat (specific methods follow below):
    (1) We compiled all available data from observations of Sierra 
Nevada yellow-legged frog, northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged 
frog, and Yosemite toad;
    (2) We identified, based on the best available science, populations 
that are extant at the time of listing (current) versus those that are 
extirpated;
    (3) We identified areas containing the components comprising the 
PCEs that may require special management considerations or protection;
    (4) We circumscribed boundaries of potential critical habitat units 
based on the above information; and
    (5) We removed all areas practicable that did not have the specific 
PCE components, and therefore are not

[[Page 24524]]

considered essential to the conservation of the Sierra Nevada yellow-
legged frog, northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog, or 
Yosemite toad.
    Specific criteria and methodology used to determine proposed 
critical habitat unit boundaries are discussed by species below.

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Complex

    (1) Data Sources:
    We obtained observational data from the following sources to 
include in our Geographic Information System (GIS) database for 
mountain yellow-legged frog: (a) Surveys of the National Parks within 
the range of the mountain yellow-legged frog, including information 
collected by R. Knapp and G. Fellers; (b) CDFG Sierra Lakes Inventory 
Project survey data; (c) SNAMPH survey data from the USFS; and (d) 
unpublished data collected by professional biologists during systematic 
surveys. Collectively, our survey data spanned August 1993 through 
September 2010. We cross-checked our database against the California 
Natural Diversity Data Base (CNDDB) reports, and we opted to utilize 
the above sources in lieu of the CNDDB data, due to the systematic 
nature of the surveys and their inherent quality control.
    (2) Occurrence Criteria:
    We considered extant all localities where presence of living 
mountain yellow-legged frog has been confirmed since 1995, unless the 
last two (or more) consecutive surveys have found no individuals of any 
life stage. The 1995 cutoff date was selected because it reflects a 
logical break point given the underlying sample coverage and relatively 
long lifespan of the frogs, and it is consistent with the recent status 
evaluation by CDFG, and therefore consistent with trend analyses 
compiled as part of that same effort (CDFG 2011, pp. 17-25). We 
considered the specific areas within the currently occupied geographic 
range of the species that include all higher quality habitat (see ``(3) 
Habitat Unit Delination,'' below) that is contiguous to extant mountain 
yellow-legged frog populations. To protect remnant populations, areas 
where surveys confirmed the presence of mountain yellow-legged frog 
using the criteria above were generally considered necessary to 
conservation, including: All hydrologically connected waters within a 
distance of 3 km (1.9 mi), all areas overland within 300 m (984 ft) of 
survey locations, and the remainder of the watershed upgradient of that 
location. The 3-km (1.9-mi) boundary was derived from empirical data 
recording frog movements using radiotelemetry (see derivation below). 
Watersheds containing PCEs (indicating high-quality habitat), and with 
multiple and repeated positive survey records spread throughout the 
habitat area, were completely included. If two contiguous subareas 
within adjacent watersheds (one utilized and one not known to be 
utilized) had a predominance of PCEs indicating high-quality habitat, 
the habitat was included up to approximately 3 km (1.9 mi) of the 
survey location. These areas are considered essential to conservation 
and recovery, because they are presumed to be within the dispersal 
capacity of extant frog metapopulations or their progeny.
    Two detailed movement studies using radiotelemetry have been 
completed for mountain yellow-legged frogs from which movement and home 
range data may be derived. One, focused on the mountain yellow-legged 
frog, occurred in a lake complex in Dusy Basin in Kings Canyon National 
Park (Matthews and Pope 1999, pp. 615-624). The other included a 
stream-dwelling population of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in 
Plumas County, California (Wengert 2008, pp. 1-32). The movement 
patterns of the mountain yellow-legged frog within the lake complex 
included average distances moved within a 5-day period ranging from 43-
145 m (141-476 ft) (Matthews and Pope, 1999, p. 620), with frogs 
traveling greater distances in September compared to August and 
October. This period reflects foraging and dispersal activity during 
the pre-wintering phase. Estimated average home ranges from this study 
ranged from 53 square meters (174 square ft) in October to more than 
5,300 square meters (0.4 ac) in September (Matthews and Pope 1999, p. 
620). The stream telemetry study of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged 
frog recorded movement distances from 3-2,300 m (10-7,546 ft) (average 
was 485 m (1,591 ft)) within a single season (July through September), 
with as much as 3,300 m (10,827 ft) of linear stream habitat utilized 
by a single frog across seasons (Wengert 2008, p. 11). Home ranges in 
this study were estimated at 167,032 square meters (12.6 ac). The 
farthest reported distance of a mountain yellow-legged frog from water 
is 400 m (1,300 ft) (Vredenburg et al. 2005, p. 564). Frogs within 
habitat connected by lake networks or migration corridors along streams 
exhibit greater movement and home range. Frogs located in a mosaic of 
fewer lakes or with greater distances between areas with high habitat 
value are not expected to move as far over dry land. We used values 
within the range of empirical data to derive our boundaries, but erred 
towards the maxima, for reasons explained below.
    These empirical results may not necessarily be applied across the 
range of the mountain yellow-legged frog. It is likely that movement is 
largely a function of the underlying habitat mosaic particular to each 
location. Available data are limited to the two studies of different 
species spanning distinct habitat types. Therefore, generalizations 
across the range are may not be inaccurate; however, two points are 
evident. First, although mountain yellow-legged frogs are known to be 
highly associated with aquatic habitat and to exhibit high site-
fidelity (Stebbins 1951, p. 340; Mullally and Cunningham 1956a, p. 191; 
Bradford et al. 1993, p. 886; Pope 1999a, p. 45), they do have the 
capacity to move relatively large distances, even within a single 
season. Our criteria for deriving critical habitat units, therefore, 
must not only take into account dispersal behavior and home range, but 
also consider the underlying habitat mosaic (and site-specific data, 
where available) when defining final boundaries for critical habitat.
    Another factor to consider when buffering home ranges is encounter 
probability within the habitat range (whether the point location where 
the surveyed frog is observed is at the center or edge of a home 
range). It is more likely that surveys will encounter individuals in 
their preferred habitat areas, especially when point counts are 
attributed to main lakes (and during the height of the breeding season, 
or closer to the overwintering season). Nevertheless, actual utilized 
habitat may be removed in time and space from point locations 
identified during one-time surveys. The underlying uncertainty 
associated with point encounters means that it is difficult, and 
possibly inaccurate, to utilize bounded home ranges from empirical data 
when you lack site-specific information regarding habitat use about the 
surveyed sample unit. Additionally, emigration and recolonization of 
extirpated sites require movement through habitat across generations, 
which may venture well beyond estimated single-season home ranges or 
movement distances. Therefore, the estimates from the very limited 
field studies are available as guidelines, but we also use the nature 
and physical layout of underlying habitat features (or site-specific 
knowledge, where available) to better define critical habitat units.
    Finally, these results remain as estimates from studies conducted 
in single localities. Measured distance

[[Page 24525]]

movements and estimated home ranges from limited studies should not be 
the sole determinants in habitat unit delineation. The ability of frogs 
to move along good habitat corridors should also be considered. This is 
especially significant in light of the need for dispersal and 
recolonization of open habitat as the species recovers from declines 
that occurred before the cessation of fish stocking activity or in 
relation to the recent spread of Bd throughout the area. It is evident 
from the data that frogs can, over the course of a season (and 
certainly over a lifespan), move through several kilometers of habitat 
(if the intervening habitat is suitable).
    Therefore, given observed dispersal ability from available data, we 
have determined as a general guideline that aquatic habitats associated 
with survey encounters (point estimates or the entirety of associated 
water bodies) and those within 3 km (1.9 mi) (approximating the upper 
bound of observed estimates of movement from all available data) along 
stream or meadow courses, and within 300 m (984 ft) overland (an 
intermediate value between the maximum observed distance traveled 
across dry land within a season) are included in the delineated habitat 
units, unless some other habitat parameter (as outlined in the PCEs 
above) indicates low habitat utility or practical dispersal barriers 
such as high ridges or rough terrain. At a minimum, stream courses and 
the adjacent upland habitat up to a distance of 25 m (82 ft) are 
included (based on an estimate from empirical data in Wengert (2008, p. 
13)). A maximum value was utilized here because habitat along stream 
courses must protect all frogs physically present and includes key 
features of habitat quality (see PCEs above).
    (3) Habitat Unit Delineation:
    To identify areas containing the PCEs for mountain yellow-legged 
frogs that may require special management considerations or protection, 
we examined the current and historical locations of mountain yellow-
legged frogs in relation to the State of California's CALWATER 
watershed classification system (version 2.2), using the smallest 
planning watersheds.
    In order to circumscribe the boundaries of potential critical 
habitat, we adopted the CALWATER boundaries, where appropriate, and 
delineated boundaries based on currently occupied aquatic habitat, as 
well as historically occupied habitats within the current range of the 
species. Watershed boundaries or other topographic features were 
utilized as the boundary when they provided for the maintenance of the 
hydrology and water quality of the aquatic system. Additional areas 
were included in order to provide for the dispersal capacity of the 
frogs, as discussed above.
    To further refine the boundaries, we obtained the MaxEnt 3.3.3e 
species distribution model covering both the Sierra Nevada yellow-
legged frog and the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog 
(CDFG 2011, pp. A-1--A-5; Knapp, unpubl. data). This model utilizes 10 
environmental variables that were selected based on known physiological 
tolerances of the mountain yellow-legged frog to temperature and water 
availability. The variables used as model inputs included elevation, 
maximum elevation of unit watershed, slope, average annual temperature, 
average temperature of coldest quarter of the year, average temperature 
of the warmest month of the year, annual precipitation, precipitation 
during the driest quarter of the year, distance to water, and lake 
density. The model additionally allows for interactions among these 
variables, and can fit nonlinear relationships using a diversity of 
feature classes (CDFG 2011, pp. A-1--A-5).
    The MaxEnt model renders a grid output with likelihood of frog 
occurrence, a practical index of habitat quality. This output was 
compared to 2,847 frog occurrence records to determine the fit of the 
model. The model derived by Dr. Knapp fit the data well. Area under the 
curve (AUC) values are a measure of model fit, where values of 0.5 are 
random and values approaching 1.0 are fully accounted for within the 
model. The model fit for the MaxEnt 3.3.3e species distribution model 
covering both the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the northern DPS 
of the mountain yellow-legged frog had AUC values of 0.916 (standard 
deviation (s.d.) = 0.002) and 0.964 (s.d. = 0.006), respectively.
    Individual critical habitat units were constructed to reflect the 
balance of frog dispersal ability and habitat use (in other words, 
based on movement distances), along with projections of habitat quality 
as expressed by the probability models (MaxEnt grid outputs) and other 
habitat parameters consistent with the PCEs defined above.
    Specifically, we considered areas to be actively utilized if since 
1995 frog survey records existed within 300 m (984 ft) overland, or 
within 3 km (1.9 mi) if connected by high-quality dispersal habitat 
(stream or high lake density habitat). In general, areas up-gradient 
from occupied water bodies (within the catchment) were circumscribed at 
the watershed boundary. Aquatic habitat of high quality within 3 km 
(1.9 mi) from extant survey records was included, along with areas 
necessary to protect the relevant PCEs. We circumscribed all habitats 
with MaxEnt model output of 0.4 and greater within utilized watersheds, 
but also extended boundaries to include stream courses, ridges, or 
watershed boundaries where appropriate to protect the relevant PCEs. 
The threshold value of 0.4 was utilized as an index for establishing 
the historical range by Knapp, as it incorporated most historic and 
current frog locations (CDFG 2011, p. A-3). Using the available data 
(CDFG et al. unpub. data), this figure accounted for approximately 90 
percent of extant population habitat association using our occurrence 
criteria (1,504 of 1,674 survey records).
    Where the MaxEnt 3.3.3e species distribution model indicated poor 
quality of intervening habitat in the mapped landscape within 3 km (1.9 
mi) of survey records, we generally cropped these areas at dispersal 
barriers or watershed boundaries, but may have also followed streams or 
topographic features. To minimize human error from visual interpolation 
of habitat units, we aggregated the high-quality habitat grids from the 
model output in ArcGIS using a neighbor distance within 1,000 m (3,281 
ft), and we used this boundary to circumscribe model outputs when 
selecting this boundary parameter. The 1,000 m (3,281 ft) aggregating 
criterion most closely agreed with manual visual interpolation methods 
that minimized land area included during unit delineation.
    If areas were contiguous to designated areas within utilized 
watersheds, we include the higher quality habitat of the adjacent 
watersheds with model ranking 0.4 or greater. These areas are essential 
if they are of sufficiently high habitat quality to be important for 
future dispersal, translocation, and restoration consistent with 
recovery needs. In general, for these ``neighboring'' watersheds, 
circumscribed habitat boundaries followed either the 0.4+ MaxEnt 
aggregate polygon boundary, stream courses, or topographic features 
that otherwise constituted natural dispersal barriers. Further, 
proposed unit designation does not include catchment areas necessary to 
protect relevant PCEs if the mapped area was greater than 3 km (1.9 mi) 
from a survey location. This lower protective standard was appropriate 
because these areas were beyond the outside bound of extant survey 
records, and our confidence that these areas are, or will be, utilized 
is lower.

[[Page 24526]]

    We also used historical records in some instances to include 
proximate watersheds that may or may not be currently utilized within 
subareas of high habitat quality as an index of the utility of habitat 
essential to the conservation of the frogs. This methodology was 
adopted to compensate for any uncertainties in our underlying 
scientific and site-specific knowledge of ecological features that 
indicate habitat quality. Unless significant changes have occurred on 
the landscape, an unutilized site confirmed by surveys to have 
historically supported frog populations likely contains more of the 
PCEs relative to one that has no historical records.

Yosemite Toad

    (1) Data Sources:
    We obtained observational data from the following sources to 
include in our GIS database for the Yosemite toad: (a) Surveys of the 
National Parks within the range of the Yosemite toad, including 
information collected by R. Knapp and G. Fellers; (b) survey data from 
each of the National Forests within the range of the species; (c) CDFG 
Sierra Lakes Inventory Project survey data; and (d) SNAMPH survey data 
from the USFS. We cross-checked the data received from each of these 
sources with information contained in the CNDDB. Given that the data 
sources (a) through (d) are the result of systematic surveys, provide 
better survey coverage of the range of the Yosemite toad, and are based 
on observation data of personnel able to accurately identify the 
species, we opted to utilize the above sources in lieu of the CNDDB 
data.
    (2) Occurrence Criteria:
    We considered extant all localities where Yosemite toad has been 
detected since 2000. The 2000 date was used for several reasons: (1) 
Comprehensive surveys for Yosemite toad throughout its range were not 
conducted prior to 2000, so data prior to 2000 are limited; and (2) 
given the longevity of the species and the magnitude of threats, toad 
locations identified since 2000 are likely to contain extant 
populations.
    We considered the occupied geographic range of the species to 
include all suitable habitats within dispersal distance and 
geographically contiguous to extant Yosemite toad populations. We 
delineated specific areas within the present range of the species that 
are known to be utilized as essential to the conservation of the 
species. To maintain genetic integrity and provide for sufficient range 
and distribution of the species, we identified areas with dense 
concentrations of Yosemite toad populations interconnected or 
interspersed among suitable breeding habitats and vegetation types, as 
well as populations on the edge of the range of the species. We also 
delineated specific areas to include dispersal and upland migration 
corridors.
    Two movement studies using radiotelemetry have been completed for 
Yosemite toad from which migration distances may be derived. One study 
took place in the Highland Lakes on the Stanislaus National Forest 
(Martin 2008, pp. 98-113), and the other took place in the Bull Creek 
watershed on the Sierra National Forest (Liang 2010, p. 96). The 
maximum observed seasonal movement distances from breeding pools within 
the Highland Lakes area was 657 m (2,157 ft) (Martin 2008, p. 144), 
while the maximum at the Bull Creek watershed was 1,261 m (4,137 ft). 
Additionally, Liang et al. (2010, p. 6) utilized all available 
empirical data to derive a maximum movement distance estimate from 
breeding locations to be 1,500 m (4,920 ft), which they utilized in 
their modeling efforts. Despite these reported dispersal distances, the 
results may not necessarily apply across the range of the species. It 
is likely that movement is largely a function of the habitat types 
particular to each location.
    We may use the mean plus 1.96 times the standard error as an 
expression of the 95 percent confidence interval (Streiner 1996, pp. 
498-502; Curran-Everett 2008, pp. 203-208) to estimate species-level 
movement behavior from such studies. Using this measure, we derive a 
confidence-bounded estimate for average distance moved in a single 
season based on the Liang study (2010, pp. 107-109) of 1,015 m (3,330 
ft). We focused on the Liang study because it had a much larger sample 
size and likely captured greater variability within a population. 
However, given that Liang et al. (2010, p. 6) estimated and applied a 
maximum movement distance of 1,500 m (4,920 ft), we opted to choose the 
approximate midpoint of these two methods, rounded to the nearest 0.25 
km (0.16 mi) and determined 1,250 m (4,101 ft) to be an appropriate 
estimated dispersal distance from breeding locations. As was the case 
with the estimate chosen for the mountain yellow-legged frog complex, 
this distance does not represent the maximum possible dispersal 
distance, but represents a distance that will reflect the movement of a 
large majority of Yosemite toads.
    Therefore, our criteria for identifying the boundaries of critical 
habitat units take into account dispersal behavior and distances, but 
also consider the underlying habitat quality and types, specifically 
the physical and biological features (and site-specific knowledge, 
where available), in defining boundaries for essential habitat.
    (3) Habitat Unit Delineation:
    To identify areas containing the PCEs for Yosemite toad that may 
require special management considerations or protection, we examined 
the current and historical locations of Yosemite toad in relation to 
the State of California vegetation layer, the USFS meadow information 
dataset, the State of California's CALWATER watershed classification 
system (version 2.2) using the smallest planning watersheds, and 
appropriate topographic maps.
    In order to circumscribe the boundaries of potential critical 
habitat, we expanded the bounds of known breeding locations for 
Yosemite toad by the 1,250 m (4,101 ft) dispersal distance and 
delineated boundaries also taking into account vegetation types, meadow 
complexes, and dispersal barriers. Where appropriate, we utilized the 
CALWATER boundaries to reflect potential barriers to dispersal (high, 
steep ridges), and delineated boundaries based on currently utilized 
habitat. Watershed boundaries or other topographic features were marked 
as the unit boundary when it provided for the maintenance of the 
hydrology and water quality of the aquatic system.
    In some instances (such as no obvious dispersal barrier or 
uncertainty regarding the suitability of habitat within dispersal 
distance of a known toad location), to further refine the boundaries, 
we obtained the MaxEnt 3.3.3e species habitat suitability/distribution 
model developed and utilized by Liang et al. (2010) and Liang and 
Stohlgren (2011), which covered the range of the Yosemite toad. This 
model utilized nine environmental and three anthropogenic data layers 
to provide a predictor of Yosemite toad locations that serves as a 
partial surrogate for habitat quality and therefore underlying physical 
or biological features or PCEs. The variables used as model inputs 
included slope, aspect, vegetation, bioclimate variables (including 
annual mean temperature, mean diurnal range, temperature seasonality, 
annual precipitation, precipitation of wettest month, and precipitation 
seasonality), distance to agriculture, distance to fire perimeter, and 
distance to timber activity.
    As the model incorporated factors that did not directly correlate 
to the physical or biological features or PCEs (for example, distance 
to agriculture, distance to fire perimeter, and distance to timber 
activity) (Liang and Stohlgren 2011, p. 22)), further analysis was

[[Page 24527]]

required. In areas that were either occupied by Yosemite toad or within 
dispersal distance of the toad (but the model indicated a low 
probability of occurrence), we assessed the utility of the model by 
further estimating potential sources of model derivation (such as fire 
or anthropogenic factors). If habitat quality indicated by the MaxEnt 
model was biased based on factors other than those linked to physical 
or biological features or PCEs, we discounted the MaxEnt output in 
those areas and based our designation on the PCEs. In these cases, 
areas are included in our proposed critical habitat designation that 
ranked low in the MaxEnt output.
    Individual proposed critical habitat units are constructed to 
reflect toad dispersal ability and habitat use, along with projections 
of habitat quality, as expressed by the probability models (MaxEnt grid 
outputs) and other habitat parameters consistent with the PCEs defined 
above.
    We also used historical records as an index of the utility of 
habitat essential to the conservation of the Yosemite toad to help 
compensate for any uncertainties in our underlying scientific and site-
specific knowledge of ecological features that indicate habitat 
quality, as we did for the frogs.

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

    Based on the above described criteria, we are proposing 447,341 ha 
(1,105,400 ac) as critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged 
frog (Table 1). This area represents approximately 14 percent of the 
historic range of the species as estimated by Knapp (unpublished data). 
All subunits proposed for designation as critical habitat are 
considered occupied (at the subunit level), and include lands within 
Lassen, Butte, Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, 
Calaveras, Alpine, Tuolumne, Mono, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Inyo 
Counties, California.

 Table 1--Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Sierra Nevada Yellow-
                               Legged Frog
------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Subunit No.          Subunit name    Hectares  (ha)    Acres  (ac)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1A...................  Morris Lake......           7,154          17,677
1B...................  Bucks Lake.......          14,224          35,148
1C...................  Deanes Valley....           2,020           4,990
1D...................  Slate Creek......           2,688           6,641
2A...................  Boulder/Lane Rock           4,500          11,119
                        Creeks.
2B...................  Gold Lake........           6,354          15,702
2C...................  Black Buttes.....          55,961         138,283
2D...................  Five Lakes.......           3,758           9,286
2E...................  Crystal Range....          33,666          83,191
2F...................  Squaw Ridge......          44,047         108,842
2G...................  North Stanislaus.          10,701          26,444
2H...................  Wells Peak.......          11,711          28,939
2I...................  Emigrant Yosemite          86,181         212,958
2J...................  Spiller Lake.....           1,094           2,704
2K...................  Virginia Canyon..             891           2,203
2L...................  Register Creek...             838           2,070
2M...................  Saddlebag Lake...           8,596          21,242
2N...................  Unicorn Peak.....           2,088           5,160
3A...................  Yosemite Central.           1,408           3,480
3B...................  Cathedral........          38,892          96,104
3C...................  Inyo.............           3,090           7,636
3D...................  Mono Creek.......          18,504          45,723
3E...................  Evolution/Leconte          87,239         215,572
3F...................  Pothole Lakes....           1,736           4,289
                                         -------------------------------
     Total...........  .................         447,341       1,105,400
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are proposing 89,637 ha (221,498 ac) as critical habitat for the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Table 2). This area 
represents approximately 9 percent of the historic range of the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Sierra Nevada. 
All subunits proposed for designation as critical habitat are 
considered occupied (at the subunit level), and include lands within 
Fresno and Tulare, Counties, California.

  Table 2--Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Northern DPS of the
                       Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog
------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Subunit No. \1\        Subunit name    Hectares  (ha)    Acres  (ac)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
4A...................  Frypan Meadows...           1,585           3,917
4B...................  Granite Basin....           1,777           4,391
4C...................  Sequoia Kings....          67,566         166,958
4D...................  Kaweah River.....           3,663           9,052
5A...................  Blossom Lakes....           2,069           5,113
5B...................  Coyote Creek.....           9,802          24,222
5C...................  Mulkey Meadows...           3,175
                                         -------------------------------
     Total...........  .................          89,637        221,498
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Subunit numbering begins at 4, following designation of southern DPS
  of the mountain yellow-legged frog (3 units).


[[Page 24528]]

    We are proposing 303,889 ha (750,926 ac) as critical habitat for 
the Yosemite toad (Table 3). All units proposed for designation as 
critical habitat are considered occupied (at the unit level) and 
include lands within Alpine, Tuolumne, Mono, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, 
and Inyo Counties, California.

     Table 3--Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Yosemite Toad
------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Unit No.            Unit name       Hectares (ha)    Acres (ac)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1....................  Blue Lakes/                14,884          36,778
                        Mokelumne.
2....................  Leavitt Lake/              30,803          76,115
                        Emigrant.
3....................  Rogers Meadow....          11,797          29,150
4....................  Hoover Lakes.....           2,303           5,690
5....................  Tuolumne Meadows/          56,530         139,688
                        Cathedral.
6....................  McSwain Meadows..           6,472          15,992
7....................  Porcupine Flat...           1,701           4,204
8....................  Westfall Meadows.           1,859           4,594
9....................  Triple Peak......           4,377          10,816
10...................  Chilnualna.......           6,212          15,351
11...................  Iron Mountain....           7,706          19,043
12...................  Silver Divide....          39,987          98,809
13...................  Humphrys Basin/            20,666          51,067
                        Seven Gables.
14...................  Kaiser/Dusy......          70,978         175,390
15...................  Upper Goddard              14,905          36,830
                        Canyon.
16...................  Round Corral               12,711          31,409
                        Meadow.
����������������������
    Total............  .................         303,889         750,926
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog

    We are proposing three units encompassing 24 subunits as critical 
habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. The critical habitat 
units and subunits that we describe below constitute our current best 
assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical habitat for 
the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. Units are numbered for the three 
major genetic clades (Vredenburg et al. 2007, p. 361) that have been 
identified rangewide for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. Distinct 
portions within each clade are designated as subunits. The 24 subunits 
we propose as critical habitat are listed in Table 4, and all subunits 
are known to be currently occupied based on the best available 
scientific and commercial information.

 Table 4--Critical Habitat Subunits for the Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog (in Hectares and Acres), Land Ownership, and Known Threats That May Affect
                the Essential Physical or Biological Features Within the Geographical Area Occupied by the Species at the Time of Listing
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                               State/local \3\                        Total \1\  ha      Known  threats
                 Critical habitat subunit                   Federal  ha (ac)       ha  (ac)       Private  ha (ac)         (ac)               \2\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1A. Morris Lake..........................................             6,715                 53                386              7,154      1, 2, 3, 4, 5
                                                                    (16,593)              (131)              (953)           (17,677)
1B. Bucks Lake...........................................            13,138                  0              1,086             14,224         1, 3, 4, 5
                                                                    (32,464)                (0)            (2,684)           (35,148)
1C. Deanes Valley........................................             1,962                  0                 58              2,020            3, 4, 5
                                                                     (4,847)                (0)              (143)            (4,990)
1D. Slate Creek..........................................             2,259                  0                429              2,688            3, 4, 5
                                                                     (5,581)                (0)            (1,060)            (6,641)
2A. Boulder/Lane Rock Creeks.............................             3,953                  0                547              4,500      1, 2, 3, 4, 5
                                                                     (9,767)                (0)            (1,352)           (11,119)
2B. Gold Lake............................................             5,643                  0                711              6,354         1, 3, 4, 5
                                                                    (13,945)                (0)            (1,758)           (15,702)
2C. Black Buttes.........................................            32,745                  0             23,216             55,961      1, 2, 3, 4, 5
                                                                    (80,914)                (0)           (57,369)          (138,283)
2D. Five Lakes...........................................             2,396                  0              1,362              3,758            1, 4, 5
                                                                     (5,921)                (0)            (3,365)            (9,286)
2E. Crystal Range........................................            31,521                  0              2,145             33,666         1, 2, 3, 5
                                                                    (77,891)                (0)            (5,300)           (83,191)
2F. Squaw Ridge..........................................            40,771                 56              3,220             44,047      1, 2, 3, 4, 5
                                                                   (100,746)              (138)            (7,958)          (108,842)
2G. North Stanislaus.....................................            10,685                  0                 16             10,701      1, 2, 3, 4, 5
                                                                    (26,403)                (0)               (41)           (26,444)
2H. Wells Peak...........................................            11,650                  0                 61             11,711         1, 3, 4, 5
                                                                    (28,788)                (0)              (150)           (28,939)
2I. Emigrant Yosemite....................................            86,109                *50                 22             86,181            1, 3, 5
                                                                   (212,780)             (*124)               (54)          (212,958)
2J. Spiller Lake.........................................             1,094                  0                  0              1,094                  5
                                                                     (2,704)                (0)                (0)            (2,704)

[[Page 24529]]

 
2K. Virginia Canyon......................................               891                  0                  0                891                  5
                                                                     (2,203)                (0)                (0)            (2,203)
2L. Register Creek.......................................               838                  0                  0                838                  5
                                                                     (2,070)                (0)                (0)            (2,070)
2M. Saddlebag Lake.......................................             8,547                  0                 49              8,596               1, 5
                                                                    (21,120)                (0)              (122)           (21,242)
2N. Unicorn Peak.........................................             2,088                  0                  0              2,088            1, 4, 5
                                                                     (5,160)                (0)                (0)            (5,160)
3A. Yosemite Central.....................................             1,408                  0                  0              1,408                  5
                                                                     (3,480)                (0)                (0)            (3,480)
3B. Cathedral............................................            38,892                  0                  0             38,892            1, 3, 5
                                                                    (96,104)                (0)                (0)           (96,104)
3C. Inyo.................................................             3,090                  0                  0              3,090               1, 5
                                                                     (7,636)                (0)                (0)            (7,636)
3D. Mono Creek...........................................            18,504                  0                  0             18,504            1, 3, 5
                                                                    (45,723)                (0)                (0)           (45,723)
3E. Evolution/Leconte....................................            87,071                *81                 87             87,239            1, 3, 5
                                                                   (215,156)             (*200)              (215)          (215,572)
3F. Pothole Lakes........................................             1,735                  0                  1              1,736               1, 5
                                                                     (4,286)                (0)                (2)            (4,289)
    Total................................................           413,702                108             33,398            447,341
                                                                 (1,022,279)              (267)           (82,527)        (1,105,400)
                                                           .................             * 132
                                                                                        (* 325)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.
\1\ Area estimates in ha (ac) reflect the entire area within the proposed critical habitat unit boundaries. Area estimates are rounded to the nearest
  whole integer that is equal to or greater than 1.
\2\ Codes of known threats that may require special management considerations or protection of the essential physical or biological features:
\3\ Asterisks * signify local jurisdictional (County) lands and are presented for brevity in the same column with State jurisdiction lands.
 1. Fish Persistence and Stocking
 2. Water Diversions/Development
 3. Grazing
 4. Timber Harvest/Fuels Reduction
 5. Recreation

    We present brief descriptions of all units and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-
legged frog below. Each unit and subunit proposed as critical habitat 
for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog contains aquatic habitat for 
breeding activities (PCE 1); aquatic habitat to provide for shelter, 
foraging, predator avoidance, and dispersal during non-breeding phases 
of their life history (PCE 2); upland areas for feeding and movement, 
and catchment areas to protect water supply and water quality (PCE 3); 
and is currently occupied by the species. Each unit and subunit 
contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, which may require 
special management considerations or protection (see the Special 
Management Considerations or Protection section of this proposed rule 
for a detailed discussion of the threats to Sierra Nevada yellow-legged 
frog habitat and potential management considerations).
Unit 1: Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog Clade 1
    Unit 1 is considered essential to the conservation of the Sierra 
Nevada yellow-legged frog because it represents the northernmost 
portion of the species' range. It reflects unique ecological features 
within the range of the species because it comprises populations that 
are stream-based. Unit 1, including all subunits, is an essential 
component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat designation 
due to the unique genetic and distributional area this unit 
encompasses. The frog populations within Clade 1 of the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog are at very low numbers and face significant threats 
from habitat fragmentation. Protection of these populations and the 
areas necessary for range expansion and recovery is central to the 
designation of the subunits that comprise Unit 1.

Subunit 1A: Morris Lake

    The Morris Lake subunit consists of approximately 7,154 ha (17,677 
ac), and is located in Plumas and Butte Counties, California, 
approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest of Highway 70. Land ownership 
within this subunit consists of approximately 6,715 ha (16,593 ac) of 
Federal land, 53 ha (131 ac) of State land, and 386 ha (953 ac) of 
private land. The Morris Lake subunit includes lands in the Plumas and 
Lassen National Forests. The northwest arms of this subunit encompass 
Snag Lake and Philbrook Reservoir. This subunit is considered to be 
within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing and contains the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat 
sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations 
and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Morris Lake subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, water diversions and operations, grazing 
activity, timber

[[Page 24530]]

management and fuels reduction, and recreational activities.

Subunit 1B: Bucks Lake

    The Bucks Lake subunit consists of approximately 14,224 ha (35,148 
ac). It is located in Plumas County, California, approximately 3 km 
(1.9 mi) south of Highway 70 near the intersection with Caribou Road, 
and is bisected on the south end by the Oroville Highway. Land 
ownership within this subunit consists of approximately 13,138 ha 
(32,464 ac) of Federal land and 1,086 ha (2,684 ac) of private land. 
The Bucks Lake subunit is located entirely within the boundaries of the 
Plumas National Forest. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and 
contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Bucks Lake subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, grazing activity, timber management and 
fuels reduction, and recreational activities.

Subunit 1C: Deanes Valley

    The Deanes Valley subunit consists of approximately 2,020 ha (4,990 
ac) and is located in Plumas County, California, approximately 5.7 km 
(3.6 mi) south of Buck's Lake Road, 6.4 km (4 mi) east of Big Creek 
Road, 7.5 km (4.7 mi) west of Quincy-LaPorte Road, and 3.5 km (2.2 mi) 
north of the Middle Fork Feather River. Land ownership within this 
subunit consists of approximately 1,962 ha (4,847 ac) of Federal land 
and 58 ha (143 ac) of private land. The Deanes Valley subunit is 
located entirely within the boundaries of the Plumas National Forest. 
This subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Deanes Valley subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to 
grazing activity, timber management and fuels reduction, and 
recreational activities.

Subunit 1D: Slate Creek

    The Slate Creek subunit consists of approximately 2,688 ha (6,641 
ac), and is located in Plumas and Sierra Counties, California, 
approximately 0.7 km (0.4 mi) east of the town of LaPorte, and 2.5 km 
(1.6 mi) southwest of the west branch of Canyon Creek. Land ownership 
within this subunit consists of approximately 2,259 ha (5,581 ac) of 
Federal land and 429 ha (1,060 ac) of private land. The Slate Creek 
subunit is located entirely within the boundaries of the Plumas 
National Forest. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and 
contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Slate Creek subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to grazing 
activity, timber management and fuels reduction, and recreational 
activities.
Unit 2: Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog Clade 2
    This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the 
species because it represents a significant fraction of the Sierra 
Nevada yellow-legged frog range, and it reflects unique ecological 
features within the range by comprising populations that are both 
stream- and lake-based. Unit 2, including all subunits, is an essential 
component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat designation 
due to the unique genetic and distributional area this unit 
encompasses. The frog populations within Clade 2 of the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog distribution are at very low to intermediate 
abundance and face significant threats from habitat fragmentation 
resulting from the introduction of fish. Protection of these 
populations and the areas necessary to maintain the geographic extent 
of this clade across its range, including connectivity between extant 
populations and higher quality habitat, is central to the designation 
of the subunits that comprise Unit 2.

Subunit 2A: Boulder/Lane Rock Creeks

    The Boulder/Lane Rock Creeks subunit consists of approximately 
4,500 ha (11,119 ac), and is located in Plumas and Lassen Counties, 
California, between 8 km (5 mi) and 18 km (11.3 mi) west of Highway 395 
near the county line along Wingfield Road. Land ownership within this 
subunit consists of approximately 3,953 ha (9,767 ac) of Federal land 
and 547 ha (1,352 ac) of private land. Subunit 2A includes Antelope 
Lake (which receives two creeks as its northwestern headwaters), and 
these water bodies provide connectivity for both main areas within the 
subunit. The Boulder/Lane Rock Creeks subunit is located entirely 
within the boundaries of the Plumas National Forest. This subunit is 
considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species, is currently 
functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core 
surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Boulder/Lane Rock Creeks 
subunit may require special management considerations or protection due 
to the presence of introduced fishes, water diversions and operations, 
grazing activity, timber management and fuels reduction, and 
recreational activities.

Subunit 2B: Gold Lake

    The Gold Lake subunit consists of approximately 6,354 ha (15,702 
ac), and is located in Plumas and Sierra Counties, California, 
approximately 8.7 km (5.4 mi) south of Highway 70, and 4.4 km (2.75 mi) 
north of Highway 49, along Gold Lake Highway to the east. Land 
ownership within this subunit consists of approximately 5,643 ha 
(13,945 ac) of Federal land and 711 ha (1,758 ac) of private land. The 
Gold Lake Subunit is located within the Plumas and Tahoe National 
Forests. This subunit is considered to be within the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time of listing, and it contains the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species, is currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is 
needed to protect core surviving populations and their unique genetic 
heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Gold Lake subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to 
introduced fishes, grazing activity, timber management and fuels 
reduction, and recreational activities.

Subunit 2C: Black Buttes

    The Black Buttes subunit consists of approximately 55,961 ha 
(138,283 ac), and spans from Sierra County through

[[Page 24531]]

Nevada County into Placer County, California. It is 8.5 km (5.3 mi) 
west of Highway 89, 3.7 km (2.3 mi) north of the North Fork American 
River, and is bisected on the south by Interstate 80. Land ownership 
within this subunit consists of approximately 32,745 ha (80,914 ac) of 
Federal land and 23,216 ha (57,369 ac) of private land. The Black 
Buttes subunit is located entirely within the boundaries of the Tahoe 
National Forest. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Black Buttes subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, water diversions and operations, grazing 
activity, timber management and fuels reduction, and recreational 
activities.

Subunit 2D: Five Lakes

    The Five Lakes subunit consists of approximately 3,758 ha (9,286 
ac), and is located in the eastern portion of Placer County, 
California, approximately 2 km (1.25 mi) west of Highway 89 and 12.3 km 
(7.7 mi) east of Foresthill Road. Land ownership within this subunit 
consists of approximately 2,396 ha (5,921 ac) of Federal land and 1,362 
ha (3,365 ac) of private land. The Five Lakes subunit is located 
entirely within the boundaries of the Tahoe National Forest. This 
subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied by 
the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Five Lakes subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, timber management and fuels reduction, 
and recreational activities.

Subunit 2E: Crystal Range

    The Crystal Range subunit consists of approximately 33,666 ha 
(83,191 ac), and is located primarily in El Dorado and Placer Counties, 
California, approximately 3.8 km (2.4 mi) west of Highway 89, bounded 
on the south by Interstate 50, and 7 km (4.4 mi) east of Ice House 
Road. The Crystal Range subunit includes portions of the Desolation 
Wilderness. Land ownership within this subunit consists of 
approximately 31,521 ha (77,891 ac) of Federal land and 2,145 ha (5,300 
ac) of private land. The Crystal Range subunit includes areas within 
the Eldorado and Tahoe National Forests and also the Lake Tahoe Basin 
Management Unit. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Crystal Range subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, water diversions and operations, grazing 
activity, and recreational activities.

Subunit 2F: Squaw Ridge

    The Squaw Ridge subunit consists of approximately 44,047 ha 
(108,842 ac), and is located in Amador, Alpine, and El Dorado Counties, 
California. The Squaw Ridge subunit is roughly bounded on the northwest 
by Highway 88, and on the southeast by Highway 4. Land ownership within 
this subunit consists of approximately 40,771 ha (100,746 ac) of 
Federal land, 56 ha (138 ac) of State land, and 3,220 ha (7,958 ac) of 
private land. The Squaw Ridge subunit includes areas within the 
Eldorado, Stanislaus, and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests. This 
subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied by 
the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Squaw Ridge Subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, water diversions and operations, grazing 
activity, timber management and fuels reduction, and recreational 
activities.

Subunit 2G: North Stanislaus

    The North Stanislaus subunit consists of approximately 10,701 ha 
(26,444 ac), and is located in Alpine, Tuolumne, and Calaveras 
Counties, California. It is south of the North Fork Mokelumne River, 
and is bisected by Highway 4, which traverses the unit from southwest 
to northeast. Land ownership within this subunit consists of 
approximately 10,685 ha (26,403 ac) of Federal land and 16 ha (41 ac) 
of private land. The North Stanislaus subunit is located entirely 
within the boundaries of the Stanislaus National Forest. This subunit 
is considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species (under 
section, is currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is 
needed to protect core surviving populations and their unique genetic 
heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the North Stanislaus Subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, water diversions and operations, grazing 
activity, timber management and fuels reduction, and recreational 
activities.

Subunit 2H: Wells Peak

    The Wells Peak subunit consists of approximately 11,711 ha (28,939 
ac), and is located in Alpine, Mono, and Tuolumne Counties, California, 
approximately 6.4 km (4 mi) west of Highway 395, and bounded by Highway 
108 on the south. Land ownership within this subunit consists of 
approximately 11,650 ha (28,788 ac) of Federal land and 61 ha (150 ac) 
of private land. Federal holdings within the Wells Peak subunit are 
within the Stanislaus National Forest. This subunit is considered to be 
within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing, and it contains the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat 
sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations 
and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Wells Peak subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to 
introduced fishes, grazing activity, timber management and fuels 
reduction, and recreational activities.

[[Page 24532]]

Subunit 2I: Emigrant Yosemite

    The Emigrant Yosemite subunit consists of approximately 86,181 ha 
(212,958 ac), and is located in Tuolumne and Mono Counties, California, 
approximately 11 km (6.9 mi) south of Highway 108 and 7.4 km (4.6 mi) 
north of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The Emigrant Yosemite subunit 
encompasses the Emigrant Wilderness. Land ownership within this subunit 
consists of approximately 86,109 ha (212,780 ac) of Federal land, 50 ha 
(124 ac) of local jurisdiction lands, and 22 ha (54 ac) of private 
land. The Emigrant Yosemite subunit is predominantly in Yosemite 
National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest. This subunit is 
considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species, is currently 
functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core 
surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Emigrant Yosemite 
subunit may require special management considerations or protection due 
to the presence of introduced fishes, grazing activity, and 
recreational activities.

Subunit 2J: Spiller Lake

    The Spiller Lake subunit consists of approximately 1,094 ha (2,704 
ac), and is located in Tuolumne County, California, approximately 1.2 
km (0.75 mi) west of Summit Lake. The Spiller Lake subunit consists 
entirely of Federal land, all located within Yosemite National Park. 
This subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Spiller Lake subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to 
recreational activities.

Subunit 2K: Virginia Canyon

    The Virginia Canyon subunit consists of approximately 891 ha (2,203 
ac), and is located in Tuolumne County, California, approximately 4.3 
km (2.7 mi) southwest of Spiller Lake, and roughly bounded on the east 
by Return Creek. The Virginia Canyon subunit consists entirely of 
Federal land, all located within Yosemite National Park. This subunit 
is considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Virginia Canyon subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to 
recreational activities.

Subunit 2L: Register Creek

    The Register Creek subunit consists of approximately 838 ha (2,070 
ac), and is located in Tuolumne County, California, approximately 1.2 
km (0.75 mi) west of Regulation Creek, with Register Creek intersecting 
the subunit on the southwest end and running along the eastern portion 
to the north. The Register Creek subunit consists entirely of Federal 
land, all located within Yosemite National Park. This subunit is 
considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species, is currently 
functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core 
surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Register Creek subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to 
recreational activities.

Subunit 2M: Saddlebag Lake

    The Saddlebag Lake subunit consists of approximately 8,596 ha 
(21,242 ac), and is located in Tuolumne and Mono Counties, California, 
approximately 12.4 km (7.75 mi) west of Highway 395, and intersected on 
the southeast boundary by Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120). Land ownership 
within this subunit consists of approximately 8,547 ha (21,120 ac) of 
Federal land and 49 ha (122 ac) of private land. The Saddlebag Lake 
subunit is predominantly located within Yosemite National Park and the 
Inyo National Forest. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Saddlebag Lake subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes and recreational activities.

Subunit 2N: Unicorn Peak

    The Unicorn Peak subunit consists of approximately 2,088 ha (5,160 
ac), and is located in Tuolumne County, California, intersected from 
east to west on its northern boundary by Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120). 
The Unicorn Peak subunit consists entirely of Federal land, all within 
Yosemite National Park. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Unicorn Peak subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, timber management and fuels reduction, 
and recreational activities.
Unit 3: Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog Clade 3
    This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the Sierra 
Nevada yellow-legged frog because it represents a significant portion 
of the species' range, and it reflects a core conservation area 
comprising the most robust remaining populations at higher densities 
(closer proximity) across the species' range. Unit 3, including all 
subunits, is an essential component of the entirety of this proposed 
critical habitat designation due to the unique genetic and 
distributional area this unit encompasses. The frog populations within 
Clade 3 of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog distribution face 
significant threats from habitat fragmentation. Protection of these 
populations and the areas necessary to maintain the geographic extent 
of this clade across its range is central to the designation of the 
subunits that comprise Unit 3.

Subunit 3A: Yosemite Central

    The Yosemite Central subunit consists of approximately 1,408 ha 
(3,480 ac), and is located in Mariposa County,

[[Page 24533]]

California, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest of Tioga Pass Road 
(Highway 120) in the heart of Yosemite National Park. The Yosemite 
Central subunit consists entirely of Federal lands within Yosemite 
National Park. This subunit is considered to be within the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and it contains 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is 
needed to protect core surviving populations and their unique genetic 
heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Yosemite Central subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to 
recreational activities.

Subunit 3B: Cathedral

    The Cathedral subunit consists of approximately 38,892 ha (96,104 
ac), and is located in Mariposa, Madera, Mono, and Tuolumne Counties, 
California, approximately 15.6 km (9.75 mi) west of Highway 395 and 9.4 
km (5.9 mi) south of Highway 120. The Cathedral subunit consists 
entirely of Federal land, including lands in Yosemite National Park and 
the Inyo and Sierra National Forests. This subunit is considered to be 
within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing, and it contains the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat 
sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations 
and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Cathedral subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, grazing activity, and recreational 
activities.

Subunit 3C: Inyo

    The Inyo subunit consists of approximately 3,090 ha (7,636 ac), and 
is located in Madera County, California, approximately 5.4 km (3.4 mi) 
southwest of Highway 203. The Inyo subunit consists entirely of Federal 
land located within the Inyo National Forest. This subunit is 
considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species, is currently 
functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core 
surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Inyo subunit may require 
special management considerations or protection due to the presence of 
introduced fishes and recreational activities.

Subunit 3D: Mono Creek

    The Mono Creek subunit consists of approximately 18,504 ha (45,723 
ac), and is located in Fresno and Inyo Counties, California, 
approximately 16 km (10 mi) southwest of Highway 395. The Mono Creek 
subunit consists entirely of Federal land located within the Sierra and 
Inyo National Forests. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Mono Creek subunit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes, grazing activity, and recreational 
activities.

Subunit 3E: Evolution/Leconte

    The Evolution/Leconte subunit consists of approximately 87,239 ha 
(215,572 ac), and is located in Fresno and Inyo Counties, California, 
approximately 12.5 km (7.8 mi) southwest of Highway 395. Land ownership 
within this subunit consists of approximately 87,071 ha (215,156 ac) of 
Federal land, 81 ha (200 ac) of local jurisdictional lands, and 87 ha 
(215 ac) of private land. The Evolution/Leconte subunit is 
predominantly within the Sierra and Inyo National Forests and Kings 
Canyon National Park. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Evolution/Leconte 
subunit may require special management considerations or protection due 
to the presence of introduced fishes, grazing activity, and 
recreational activities.

Subunit 3F: Pothole Lakes

    The Pothole Lakes subunit consists of approximately 1,736 ha (4,289 
ac), and is located in Inyo County, California, approximately 13.1 km 
(8.2 mi) west of Highway 395. Land ownership within this subunit 
consists of approximately 1,735 ha (4,286 ac) of Federal land and 1 ha 
(2 ac) of private land. The Pothole Lakes subunit is almost entirely 
located within the Inyo National Forest. This subunit is considered to 
be within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of 
listing and contains the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat 
sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations 
and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in the Pothole Lakes subunit 
may require special management considerations or protection due to the 
presence of introduced fishes and recreational activities.
Northern DPS of the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog
    We are proposing seven subunits as critical habitat for the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog. The critical habitat 
areas we describe below constitute our current best assessment of areas 
that meet the definition of critical habitat for the northern DPS of 
the mountain yellow-legged frog. Units are named after the major 
genetic clades (Vredenburg et al. 2007, p. 361), of which three exist 
rangewide for the mountain yellow-legged frog, and two are within the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Sierra Nevada. 
Distinct units within each clade are designated as subunits. Unit 
designations begin numbering sequentially, following the three units 
already designated on September 14, 2006, for the southern DPS of the 
mountain yellow-legged frog (71 FR 54344). The seven subunits we 
propose as critical habitat are listed in Table 5 and are, based on the 
best available scientific and commercial information, currently 
occupied.

[[Page 24534]]



TABLE 5--Critical Habitat Units for the Northern DPS of the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (in Hectares and Acres),
Land Ownership, and Known Threats That May Affect the Essential Physical or Biological Features for Units Within
                      the Geographical Area Occupied by the Species at the Time of Listing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  Known threats
        Critical habitat unit           Federal ha (ac)    Private ha (ac)   Total \1\ ha (ac)         \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4A. Frypan Meadows...................             1,585                  0              1,585                  5
                                                 (3,917)                (0)            (3,917)
4B. Granite Basin....................             1,777                  0              1,777                  5
                                                 (4,391)                (0)            (4,391)
4C. Sequoia Kings....................            67,566                  0             67,566               1, 5
                                               (166,958)                (0)          (166,958)
4D. Kaweah River.....................             3,663                  0              3,663                  5
                                                 (9,052)                (0)            (9,052)
5A. Blossom Lakes....................             2,069                  0              2,069                  5
                                                 (5,113)                (0)            (5,113)
5B. Coyote Creek.....................             9,792                 10              9,802               1, 5
                                                (24,197)               (24)           (24,222)
5C. Mulkey Meadows...................             3,175                  0              3,175            1, 3, 5
                                                 (7,846)                (0)            (7,846)
                                      ---------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................            89,627                 10             89,637   ................
                                               (221,474)               (24)          (221,498)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.
\1\ Area estimates in ha (ac) reflect the entire area within the proposed critical habitat unit boundaries. Area
  estimates are rounded to the nearest whole integer that is equal to or greater than 1.
\2\ Codes of known threats that may require special management considerations or protection of the essential
  physical or biological features:
1. Fish Persistence and Stocking
2. Water Diversions/Development
3. Grazing
4. Timber Harvest/Fuels Reduction
5. Recreation

    We present brief descriptions of all subunits and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the northern DPS of the 
mountain yellow-legged frog below. Each unit and subunit proposed as 
critical habitat for the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged 
frog contains aquatic habitat for breeding activities (PCE 1); aquatic 
habitat to provide for shelter, foraging, predator avoidance, and 
dispersal during nonbreeding phases within their life history (PCE 2); 
upland areas for feeding and movement, and catchment areas to protect 
water supply and water quality (PCE 3); and is currently occupied by 
the species. Each unit and subunit contains the physical and biological 
features essential to the conservation of the northern DPS of the 
mountain yellow-legged frog, which may require special management (see 
the Special Management Considerations or Protection section of this 
proposed rule for a detailed discussion of the threats to Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog habitat and potential management considerations).
Unit 4: Northern DPS of the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Clade 4
    This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the 
species because it represents a significant portion of the northern DPS 
of the mountain yellow-legged frog range, and reflects a core 
conservation area comprising the most robust remaining populations at 
higher densities (closer proximity) across the species' range. Unit 4, 
including all subunits, is an essential component to the entirety of 
this proposed critical habitat designation due to the unique genetic 
and distributional area this unit encompasses. The frog populations 
within Clade 4 of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog 
distribution face significant threats from habitat fragmentation. 
Protection of these populations and the areas necessary to maintain the 
geographic extent of this clade across its range is central to the 
designation of the subunits that comprise Unit 4. In addition, Clade 4 
includes the only remaining basins with high-density, lake-based 
populations that are not infected with Bd, and chytrid epidemics will 
likely decimate these uninfected populations in the near future unless 
habitat protections and special management considerations are 
implemented. It is necessary to broadly protect remnant populations 
across the range of Clade 4 to facilitate species persistence in 
suitable habitat.

Subunit 4A: Frypan Meadows

    The Frypan Meadows subunit consists of approximately 1,585 ha 
(3,917 ac), and is located in Fresno County, California, approximately 
4.3 km (2.7 mi) northwest of Highway 180. The Frypan Meadows subunit 
consists entirely of Federal land, located entirely within the 
boundaries of the Kings Canyon National Park. This subunit is 
considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the species 
at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species, is currently 
functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect core 
surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Frypan 
Meadows subunit may require special management considerations or 
protection due to recreational activities.

Subunit 4B: Granite Basin

    The Granite Basin subunit consists of approximately 1,777 ha (4,391 
ac), and is located in Fresno County, California, approximately 3.2 km 
(2 mi) north of Highway 180. The Granite Basin subunit consists 
entirely of Federal land, located within the boundaries of the Kings 
Canyon National Park. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed

[[Page 24535]]

to protect core surviving populations and their unique genetic 
heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Granite 
Basin subunit may require special management considerations or 
protection due to recreational activities.

Subunit 4C: Sequoia Kings

    The Sequoia Kings subunit consists of approximately 67,566 ha 
(166,958 ac), and is located in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California, 
approximately 18 km (11.25 mi) west of Highway 395 and 4.4 km (2.75 mi) 
southeast of Highway 180. The Sequoia Kings subunit consists entirely 
of Federal land, all within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. 
This subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical and biological features essential to the conservation 
of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Sequoia 
Kings subunit may require special management considerations or 
protection due to the presence of introduced fishes and recreational 
activities.

Subunit 4D: Kaweah River

    The Kaweah River subunit consists of approximately 3,663 ha (9,052 
ac), and is located in Tulare County, California, approximately 2.8 km 
(1.75 mi) east of Highway 198. The Kaweah River subunit consists 
entirely of Federal land, all within Sequoia National Park. This 
subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied by 
the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Kaweah 
River subunit may require special management considerations or 
protection due to recreational activities.
Unit 5: Northern DPS of the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Clade 5
    This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog since it represents the 
southern portion of the species' range, and reflects unique ecological 
features within the range of the species because it comprises 
populations that are stream-based. Unit 5, including all subunits, is 
an essential component of the entirety of this proposed critical 
habitat designation due to the unique genetic and distributional area 
this unit encompasses. The frog populations within Clade 5 of the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog distribution are at 
very low numbers, and face significant threats from habitat 
fragmentation. Protection of these populations and areas necessary for 
range expansion and recovery is central to the designation of the 
subunits that comprise Unit 5.

Subunit 5A: Blossom Lakes

    The Blossom Lakes subunit consists of approximately 2,069 ha (5,113 
ac), and is located in Tulare County, California, approximately 0.8 km 
(0.5 mi) northwest of Silver Lake. The Blossom Lakes subunit consists 
entirely of Federal land, located within Sequoia National Park and 
Sequoia National Forest. This subunit is considered to be within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and 
it contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat sustaining 
frogs, and is needed to protect core surviving populations and their 
unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Blossom 
Lakes subunit may require special management considerations or 
protection due to recreational activities.

Subunit 5B: Coyote Creek

    The Coyote Creek subunit consists of approximately 9,802 ha (24,222 
ac), and is located in Tulare County, California, approximately 7.5 km 
(4.7 mi) south of Moraine Lake. Land ownership within this subunit 
consists of approximately 9,792 ha (24,197 ac) of Federal land and 10 
ha (24 ac) of private land. The Coyote Creek subunit is predominantly 
within Sequoia National Park and Sequoia and Inyo National Forests. 
This subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Coyote 
Creek subunit may require special management considerations or 
protection due to the presence of introduced fishes and recreational 
activities.

Subunit 5C: Mulkey Meadows

    The Mulkey Meadows subunit consists of approximately 3,175 ha 
(7,846 ac), and is located in Tulare County, California, approximately 
10 km (6.25 mi) west of Highway 395. The Mulkey Meadows subunit 
consists entirely of Federal land, all within the Inyo National Forest. 
This subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied 
by the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is 
currently functional habitat sustaining frogs, and is needed to protect 
core surviving populations and their unique genetic heritage.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Mulkey 
Meadows subunit may require special management considerations or 
protection due to the presence of introduced fishes, grazing activity, 
and recreational activities.

Yosemite Toad

    We are proposing 16 units as critical habitat for the Yosemite 
toad. The critical habitat areas we describe below constitute our 
current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical 
habitat for the Yosemite toad. The 16 units we propose as critical 
habitat are listed in Table 6, and all 16 units are currently occupied.

[[Page 24536]]



   TABLE 6--Critical Habitat Units Proposed for the Yosemite Toad (in Hectares and Acres), Land Ownership, and
  Known Threats That May Affect the Essential Physical or Biological Features for Units Within the Geographical
                               Area Occupied by the Species at the Time of Listing
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  Known threats
        Critical habitat unit           Federal ha (ac)    Private ha (ac)   Total \1\ ha (ac)         \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Blue Lakes/Mokelumne..............            13,896                987             14,884               2, 4
                                                (34,338)            (2,440)           (36,778)
2. Leavitt Lake/Emigrant.............            30,789                 13             30,803               2, 4
                                                (76,081)               (33)           (76,115)
3. Rogers Meadow.....................            11,797                  0             11,797             \3\N/A
                                                (29,150)                (0)           (29,150)
4. Hoover Lakes......................             2,303                  0              2,303                  4
                                                 (5,690)                (0)            (5,690)
5. Tuolumne Meadows/Cathedral........            56,477                 53             56,530                  4
                                               (139,557)              (131)          (139,688)
6. McSwain Meadows...................             6,472                  0              6,472                  4
                                                (15,992)                (0)           (15,992)
7. Porcupine Flat....................             1,701                  0              1,701                  4
                                                 (4,204)                (0)            (4,204)
8. Westfall Meadows..................             1,859                  0              1,859                  4
                                                 (4,594)                (0)            (4,594)
9. Triple Peak.......................             4,377                  0              4,377                  4
                                                (10,816)                (0)           (10,816)
10. Chilnualna.......................             6,212                  0              6,212                  4
                                                (15,351)                (0)           (15,351)
11. Iron Mountain....................             7,404                302              7,706            2, 3, 4
                                                (18,296)              (747)           (19,043)
12. Silver Divide....................            39,986                  1             39,987               2, 4
                                                (98,807)                (2)           (98,809)
13. Humphrys Basin/Seven Gables......            20,658                  8             20,666               3, 4
                                                (51,046)               (21)           (51,067)
14. Kaiser/Dusy......................            70,670                308             70,978            2, 3, 4
                                               (174,629)              (761)          (175,390)
15. Upper Goddard Canyon.............            14,905                  0             14,905             \3\N/A
                                                (36,830)                (0)           (36,830)
16. Round Corral Meadow..............            12,613                 97             12,711               2, 4
                                                (31,168)              (241)           (31,409)
                                      ---------------------------------------------------------
    Total............................           302,188              1,771            303,889   ................
                                               (746,551)            (4,376)          (750,926)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.
\1\Area estimates in ha (ac) reflect the entire area within the proposed critical habitat unit boundaries. Area
  estimates are rounded to the nearest whole integer that is equal to or greater than 1.
\2\Codes of known threats that may require special management considerations or protection of the essential
  physical or biological features:
1. Water Diversions
2. Grazing
3. Timber Harvest/Fuels Reduction
4. Recreation
\3\Indicates no manageable threats (disease, predation, and climate change are not included in this table).

    We present brief descriptions of all units and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the Yosemite toad below. 
Each unit proposed as critical habitat for the Yosemite toad contains 
aquatic habitat for breeding activities (PCE 1) and upland habitat for 
foraging, dispersal, and overwintering activities (PCE 2), and is 
currently occupied by the species. Each unit contains the physical and 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Yosemite toad, 
which may require special management (see the Special Management 
Considerations or Protection section of this proposed rule for a 
detailed discussion of the threats to Yosemite toad habitat and 
potential management considerations).
Unit 1: Blue Lakes/Mokelumne
    This unit consists of approximately 14,884 ha (36,778 ac), and is 
located in Alpine County, California, north and south of Highway 4. 
Land ownership within this unit consists of approximately 13,896 ha 
(34,338 ac) of Federal land and 987 ha (2,440 ac) of private land. The 
Blue Lakes/Mokelumne unit is predominantly within the Eldorado, 
Humboldt-Toiyabe, and Stanislaus National Forests. This unit is 
currently occupied and contains the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species. This unit is considered 
essential to the conservation of the species because it represents the 
northernmost portion of the Yosemite toad range and constitutes an area 
of high genetic diversity. The Blue Lakes/Mokelumne unit is an 
essential component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat 
designation due to the genetic and distributional area this unit 
encompasses.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Blue Lakes/Mokelumne unit may require 
special management considerations or protection due to grazing and 
recreational activities.
Unit 2: Leavitt Lake/Emigrant
    This unit consists of approximately 30,803 ha (76,115 ac), and is 
located near the border of Alpine, Tuolumne, and Mono Counties, 
California, predominantly south of Highway 108. Land ownership within 
this unit

[[Page 24537]]

consists of approximately 30,789 ha (76,081 ac) of Federal land and 13 
ha (33 ac) of private land. The Leavitt Lake/Emigrant unit is 
predominantly within the Stanislaus and Humboldt-Toiyabe National 
Forests and Yosemite National Park. This unit is currently occupied and 
contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. This unit is considered essential to the 
conservation of the species because it contains a high concentration of 
Yosemite toad breeding locations and represents a variety of habitat 
types utilized by the species. The Leavitt Lake/Emigrant unit is an 
essential component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat 
designation because it provides continuity of habitat between adjacent 
units, as well as providing for a variety of habitat types necessary to 
sustain Yosemite toad populations under a variety of climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Leavitt Lake/Emigrant unit may require 
special management considerations or protection due to grazing and 
recreational activities.
Unit 3: Rogers Meadow
    This unit consists of approximately 11,797 ha (29,150 ac) of 
Federal land located entirely within Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest 
and Yosemite National Park. The Rogers Meadow unit is located along the 
border of Tuolumne and Mono Counties, California, north of Highway 120. 
This unit is currently occupied and contains the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. This unit is 
considered essential to the conservation of the species because it 
contains a high concentration of Yosemite toad breeding locations, is 
located in a relatively pristine ecological setting, and represents a 
variety of habitat types utilized by the species. The Rogers Meadow 
unit is an essential component of the entirety of this proposed 
critical habitat designation because it provides continuity of habitat 
between adjacent units as well as providing for a variety of habitat 
types necessary to sustain Yosemite toad populations under various 
climate regimes. This unit has no manageable threats (note that 
disease, predation, and climate change are not considered manageable 
threats).
Unit 4: Hoover Lakes
    This unit consists of approximately 2,303 ha (5,690 ac) of Federal 
land located entirely within the Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe National 
Forests and Yosemite National Park. The Hoover Lakes unit is located 
along the border of Mono and Tuolumne Counties, California, east of 
Highway 395. This unit is currently occupied and contains the physical 
or biological features essential to the conservation of the species. 
This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the species 
because it contains Yosemite toad populations with a high degree of 
genetic variability east of the Sierra crest within the central portion 
of the species' range. This unit contains habitats that are essential 
to the Yosemite toad facing an uncertain climate future. The Hoover 
Lakes unit is an essential component of the entirety of this proposed 
critical habitat designation because it provides a continuity of 
habitat between adjacent units, provides for the maintenance of genetic 
variation, and provides habitat types necessary to sustain Yosemite 
toad populations under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of Yosemite toad in the Hoover Lakes unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to recreational activities.
Unit 5: Tuolumne Meadows/Cathedral
    This unit consists of approximately 56,530 ha (139,688 ac), and is 
located within Tuolumne, Mono, Mariposa, and Madera Counties, 
California, both north and south of Highway 120. Land ownership within 
this unit consists of approximately 56,477 ha (139,557 ac) of Federal 
land and 53 ha (131 ac) of private land. The Tuolumne Meadows/Cathedral 
unit is predominantly within the Inyo National Forest and Yosemite 
National Park. This unit is currently occupied and contains the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species. This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the 
species because it contains a high concentration of Yosemite toad 
breeding locations, represents a variety of habitat types utilized by 
the species, has high genetic variability, and, due to the long-term 
occupancy of this unit, is considered an essential locality for 
Yosemite toad populations. The Tuolumne Meadows/Cathedral unit is an 
essential component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat 
designation because it provides continuity of habitat between adjacent 
units, as well as providing for a variety of habitat types necessary to 
sustain Yosemite toad populations under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Tuolumne Meadows/Cathedral unit may require 
special management considerations or protection due to recreational 
activities.
Unit 6: McSwain Meadows
    This unit consists of approximately 6,472 ha (15,992 ac) of Federal 
land located entirely within Yosemite National Park. The McSwain 
Meadows unit is located along the border of Tuolumne and Mariposa 
Counties, California, north and south of Highway 120 in the vicinity of 
Yosemite Creek. This unit is currently occupied and contains the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species. This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the 
species because it contains Yosemite toad populations located at the 
western edge of the range of the species within the central region of 
its geographic distribution. This area contains a concentration of 
Yosemite toad localities, as well as representing a wide variety of 
habitat types utilized by the species. This unit contains habitats that 
are essential to the Yosemite toad facing an uncertain climate future. 
The McSwain Meadows unit is an essential component of the entirety of 
this proposed critical habitat designation because it provides a unique 
geographic distribution and variation in habitat types necessary to 
sustain Yosemite toad populations under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of Yosemite toad in the McSwain Meadows unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to recreational activities.
Unit 7: Porcupine Flat
    This unit consists of approximately 1,701 ha (4,204 ac) of Federal 
land located entirely within Yosemite National Park. The Porcupine Flat 
unit is located within Mariposa County, California, north and south of 
Highway 120 and east of Yosemite Creek. This unit is currently occupied 
and contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. This unit is considered essential to the 
conservation of the species because it contains a concentration of 
Yosemite toad localities in proximity to the western edge of the 
species' range within the central region of its geographic 
distribution, and provides a wide variety of habitat types utilized by 
the species. The Porcupine Flat unit is an essential component of the 
entirety of this proposed critical habitat designation due to its 
proximity to Unit 6, which allows Unit 7 to provide continuity of 
habitat between Units 5

[[Page 24538]]

and 6, and its geographic distribution and variation in habitat types 
necessary to sustain Yosemite toad populations under various climate 
regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Porcupine Flat unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to recreational activities.
Unit 8: Westfall Meadows
    This unit consists of approximately 1,859 ha (4,594 ac) of Federal 
land located entirely within Yosemite National Park. The Westfall 
Meadows unit is located within Mariposa County, California, along 
Glacier Point Road. This unit is currently occupied and contains the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
species. The Westfall Meadows unit is considered essential to the 
conservation of the species because it contains Yosemite toad 
populations located at the western edge of the species' range within 
the central region of its geographic distribution, and south of the 
Merced River. Given that the Merced River acts as a dispersal barrier 
in this portion of Yosemite National Park, it is unlikely that there is 
genetic exchange between Unit 8 and Unit 6; thus Unit 8 represents an 
important geographic and genetic distribution of the species essential 
to conservation. This unit contains habitats essential to the 
conservation of the Yosemite toad facing an uncertain climate future. 
Unit 8 is an essential component of the entirety of this proposed 
critical habitat designation because it provides a unique geographic 
distribution and variation in habitat types necessary to sustain 
Yosemite toad populations under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Westfall Meadows unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to recreational activities.
Unit 9: Triple Peak
    This unit consists of approximately 4,377 ha (10,816 ac) of Federal 
land located entirely within the Sierra National Forest and Yosemite 
National Park. The Triple Peak unit is located within Madera County, 
California, between the Merced River and the South Fork Merced River. 
This unit is currently occupied and contains the physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. This unit is 
considered essential to the conservation of the species because it 
contains a high concentration of Yosemite toad breeding locations and 
represents a variety of habitat types utilized by the species. The 
Triple Peak unit is an essential component of the entirety of this 
proposed critical habitat designation because it provides continuity of 
habitat between adjacent units, specifically east-west connectivity, as 
well as habitat types necessary to sustain Yosemite toad populations 
under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Triple Peak unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to recreational activities.
Unit 10: Chilnualna
    This unit consists of approximately 6,212 ha (15,351 ac) of Federal 
land located entirely within Yosemite National Park. The Chilnualna 
unit is located within Mariposa and Madera Counties, California, north 
of the South Fork Merced River. This unit is currently occupied and 
contains the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. This unit is considered essential to the 
conservation of the species because it contains a high concentration of 
Yosemite toad breeding locations and represents a variety of habitat 
types utilized by the species. The Chilnualna Unit is an essential 
component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat designation 
because it provides continuity of habitat between adjacent units, as 
well as habitat types necessary to sustain Yosemite toad populations 
under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Chilnualna unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to recreational activities.
Unit 11: Iron Mountain
    This unit consists of approximately 7,706 ha (19,043 ac), and is 
located within Madera County, California, south of the South Fork 
Merced River. Land ownership within this unit consists of approximately 
7,404 ha (18,296 ac) of Federal land and 302 ha (747 ac) of private 
land. The Iron Mountain unit is predominantly within the Sierra 
National Forest and Yosemite National Park. This unit is currently 
occupied and contains the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the species. This unit is considered essential to 
the conservation of the species because it contains a high 
concentration of Yosemite toad breeding locations and represents a 
variety of habitat types utilized by the species. This unit further 
contains the southernmost habitat within the central portion of the 
range of the Yosemite toad. The Iron Mountain unit is an essential 
component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat designation 
because it provides continuity of habitat between adjacent units, as 
well as habitat types necessary to sustain Yosemite toad populations 
under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of Yosemite toad in the Iron Mountain unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to grazing, timber harvest 
and fuels reduction, and recreational activities.
Unit 12: Silver Divide
    This unit consists of approximately 39,987 ha (98,809 ac), and is 
located within Fresno, Inyo, Madera, and Mono Counties, California, 
southeast of the Middle Fork San Joaquin River. Land ownership within 
this unit consists of approximately 39,986 ha (98,807 ac) of Federal 
land and 1 ha (2 ac) of private land. The Silver Divide unit is 
predominantly within the Inyo and Sierra National Forests. This unit is 
currently occupied and contains the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species. This unit is considered 
essential to the conservation of the species because it contains a high 
concentration of Yosemite toad breeding locations and represents a 
variety of habitat types utilized by the species. The Silver Divide 
unit is an essential component of the entirety of this proposed 
critical habitat designation because it provides continuity of habitat 
between adjacent units, as well as habitat types necessary to sustain 
Yosemite toad populations under various climate regimes.
    The physical and biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Silver Divide unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to grazing and recreational 
activities.
Unit 13: Humphrys Basin/Seven Gables
    This unit consists of approximately 20,666 ha (51,067 ac), and is 
located within Fresno and Inyo Counties, California, northeast of the 
South Fork San Joaquin River. Land ownership within this unit consists 
of approximately 20,658 ha (51,046 ac) of Federal land and 8 ha (21 ac) 
of private land. The Humphrys Basin/Seven Gables unit is predominantly 
within the Inyo and Sierra National Forests. This unit is currently 
occupied and contains the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the

[[Page 24539]]

species. This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the 
species because it contains a high concentration of Yosemite toad 
breeding locations and represents a variety of habitat types utilized 
by the species. The Humphrys Basin/Seven Gables unit is an essential 
component of the entirety of this proposed critical habitat designation 
because it provides continuity of habitat between adjacent units, as 
well as habitat types necessary to sustain Yosemite toad populations 
under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Humphrys Basin/Seven Gables unit may 
require special management considerations or protection due to 
recreation and timber harvest/fuels reduction activities.
Unit 14: Kaiser/Dusy
    This unit consists of approximately 70,978 ha (175,390 ac), and is 
located in Fresno County, California, between the south fork of the San 
Joaquin River and the north fork of the Kings River. Land ownership 
within this unit consists of approximately 70,670 ha (174,629 ac) of 
Federal land and 308 ha (761 ac) of private land. The Kaiser/Dusy unit 
is predominantly within the Sierra National Forest. This unit is 
currently occupied and contains the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the species. This unit is considered 
essential to the conservation of the species because it contains a high 
concentration of Yosemite toad breeding locations, represents a variety 
of habitat types utilized by the species, and is located at the 
represents southwestern extent of the Yosemite toad range. The Kaiser/
Dusy unit is an essential component of the entirety of this proposed 
critical habitat designation because it provides continuity of habitat 
between adjacent units, as well as habitat types necessary to sustain 
Yosemite toad populations under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Kaiser/Dusy unit may require special 
management considerations or protection due to grazing, timber harvest 
and fuels reduction, and recreational activities.
Unit 15: Upper Goddard Canyon
    This unit consists of approximately 14,905 ha (36,830 ac) of 
Federal land located entirely within Kings Canyon National Park and the 
Sierra National Forest. The Upper Goddard Canyon unit is located within 
Fresno and Inyo Counties, California, at the upper reach of the South 
Fork San Joaquin River. This unit is currently occupied and contains 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the species. This unit is considered essential to the conservation of 
the species because it contains a high concentration of Yosemite toad 
breeding locations, represents a variety of habitat types utilized by 
the species, and is located at the easternmost extent within the 
southern portion of the Yosemite toad's range. The Upper Goddard Canyon 
unit is an essential component of the entirety of this proposed 
critical habitat designation because it provides continuity of habitat 
between adjacent units, as well as habitat types necessary to sustain 
Yosemite toad populations under various climate regimes. This unit has 
no manageable threats (note that disease, predation, and climate change 
are not considered manageable threats).
Unit 16: Round Corral Meadow
    This unit consists of approximately 12,711 ha (31,409 ac), and is 
located in Fresno County, California, south of the North Fork Kings 
River. Land ownership within this unit consists of approximately 12,613 
ha (31,168 ac) of Federal land and 97 ha (241 ac) of private land. The 
Round Corral Meadow unit is predominantly within the Sierra National 
Forest. This unit is considered essential to the conservation of the 
species because it contains a high concentration of Yosemite toad 
breeding locations, represents a variety of habitat types utilized by 
the species, and encompasses the southernmost portion of the range of 
the species. The Round Corral Meadow unit is an essential component of 
the entirety of this proposed critical habitat designation because it 
provides continuity of habitat between adjacent units, represents the 
southernmost portion of the range, and provides habitat types necessary 
to sustain Yosemite toad populations under various climate regimes.
    The physical or biological features essential to the conservation 
of the Yosemite toad in the Round Corral Meadow unit may require 
special management considerations or protection due to grazing and 
recreational activities.

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service, to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out 
is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered 
species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In 
addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any agency action that is likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed 
under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
proposed critical habitat.
    Decisions by the 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals have 
invalidated our regulatory definition of ``destruction or adverse 
modification'' (50 CFR 402.02) (see Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2004) and Sierra 
Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service et al., 245 F.3d 434, 442 (5th 
Cir. 2001)), and we do not rely on this regulatory definition when 
analyzing whether an action is likely to destroy or adversely modify 
critical habitat. Under the statutory provisions of the Act, we 
determine destruction or adverse modification on the basis of whether, 
with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the affected 
critical habitat would continue to serve its intended conservation role 
for the species.
    If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical 
habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into 
consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the 
section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or 
private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act 
(33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 
of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding 
from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation 
Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal 
actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions 
on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded 
or authorized, do not require section 7 consultation.
    As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with 
the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of:
    (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but 
are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; 
or
    (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect, and 
are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat.
    When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species and/or 
destroy or

[[Page 24540]]

adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and prudent 
alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that would avoid 
the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse modification 
of critical habitat. We define ``reasonable and prudent alternatives'' 
(at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified during 
consultation that:
    (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended 
purpose of the action,
    (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal 
agency's legal authority and jurisdiction,
    (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and
    (4) Would in the Director's opinion, avoid the likelihood of 
jeopardizing the continued existence of listed species and/or resulting 
in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project 
modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs 
associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are 
similarly variable.
    Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate 
consultation on previously reviewed actions in instances where we have 
listed a new species or subsequently designated critical habitat that 
may be affected and the Federal agency has retained discretionary 
involvement or control over the action (or the agency's discretionary 
involvement or control is authorized by law). Consequently, Federal 
agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation 
with us on actions for which formal consultation has been completed, if 
those actions with discretionary involvement or control may affect 
subsequently listed species or designated critical habitat.

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended 
conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or 
biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the 
functionality of an individual critical habitat unit or subunit, 
thereby appreciably reducing the suitability of critical habitat for 
the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS of the mountain 
yellow-legged frog, or the Yosemite toad to provide for the 
conservation of these species. As discussed above, the role of critical 
habitat is to support life-history needs of the species and provide for 
the conservation of the species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and northern DPS 
mountain yellow-legged frog. These activities include, but are not 
limited to:
    (1) Actions that significantly alter water chemistry or 
temperature. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, 
release of chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated effluents into 
surface water or into connected ground water at a point source or by 
dispersed release (non-point source). These activities may alter water 
conditions beyond the tolerances of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged 
frog or northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog and result in 
direct or cumulative adverse effects to individuals and their life 
cycles.
    (2) Actions that would significantly increase sediment deposition 
within the stream channel, lake, or other aquatic feature, or disturb 
riparian foraging and dispersal habitat. Such activities could include, 
but are not limited to, excessive sedimentation from livestock 
overgrazing, road construction, channel alteration, timber harvest, 
unauthorized off-road vehicle or recreational use, and other watershed 
and floodplain disturbances. These activities could eliminate or reduce 
the habitat necessary for the growth and reproduction of the Sierra 
Nevada yellow-legged frog or northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged 
frog by increasing the sediment deposition to levels that would 
adversely affect a frog's ability to complete its life cycle.
    (3) Actions that would significantly alter channel or lake 
morphology, geometry, or water availability. Such activities could 
include, but are not limited to, channelization, impoundment, road and 
bridge construction, development, mining, dredging, destruction of 
riparian vegetation, water diversion, water withdrawal, and hydropower 
generation. These activities may lead to changes to the hydrologic 
function of the channel or lake, and alter the timing, duration, 
waterflows, and levels that would degrade or eliminate mountain yellow-
legged frog habitat. These actions can also lead to increased 
sedimentation and degradation in water quality to levels that are 
beyond the tolerances of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog or 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog.
    (4) Actions that significantly reduce or limit the availability of 
breeding or overwintering aquatic habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-
legged frog or northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog. Such 
activities could include, but are not limited to, stocking of 
introduced fishes, water diversion, water withdrawal, and hydropower 
generation. These actions could lead to the reduction in available 
breeding and overwintering habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged 
frog or northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog through 
reduction in water depth necessary for the frog to complete its life 
cycle. Additionally, the stocking of introduced fishes could prevent or 
preclude recolonization of otherwise available breeding or 
overwintering habitats, which is necessary for range expansion and 
recovery of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and northern DPS of the 
mountain yellow-legged frog metapopulations.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for the Yosemite toad. These activities include, but are 
not limited to:
    (1) Actions that significantly alter water chemistry or 
temperature. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, 
release of chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated effluents into 
the surface water or into connected ground water at a point source or 
by dispersed release (non-point source). These activities could alter 
water conditions beyond the tolerances of the Yosemite toad and result 
in direct or cumulative adverse effects to these individuals and their 
life cycles.
    (2) Actions that would significantly increase sediment deposition 
within the wet meadow systems and other aquatic features utilized by 
Yosemite toad or disturb upland foraging and dispersal habitat. Such 
activities could include, but are not limited to, excessive 
sedimentation from livestock overgrazing, road construction, 
inappropriate fuels management activities, channel alteration, 
inappropriate timber harvest activities, unauthorized off-road vehicle 
or recreational use, and other watershed and floodplain disturbances. 
These activities could eliminate or reduce the habitat necessary for 
the growth and

[[Page 24541]]

reproduction of the Yosemite toad by increasing the sediment deposition 
to levels that would adversely affect a toad's ability to complete its 
life cycle.
    (3) Actions that would significantly alter wet meadow or pond 
morphology, geometry, or inundation period. Such activities could 
include, but are not limited to, livestock overgrazing, channelization, 
impoundment, road and bridge construction, mining, dredging, and 
inappropriate vegetation management. These activities may lead to 
changes in the hydrologic function of the wet meadow or pond and alter 
the timing, duration, waterflows, and levels that would degrade or 
eliminate Yosemite toad habitat. These actions can also lead to 
increased sedimentation and degradation in water quality to levels that 
are beyond the tolerances of the Yosemite toad.
    (4) Actions that eliminate upland foraging or overwintering 
habitat, as well as dispersal habitat, for the Yosemite toad. Such 
activities could include, but are not limited to, livestock 
overgrazing, road construction, recreational development, timber 
harvest activities, unauthorized off-road vehicle or recreational use, 
and other watershed and floodplain disturbances.

Exemptions

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

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

Exclusions

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

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the 
best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. In making that determination, the statute on its face, as well 
as the legislative history, are clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we 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 are preparing an analysis of the economic 
impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation and related 
factors. The proposed critical habitat areas include Federal, State, 
and private lands, some of which are used for livestock grazing, timber 
harvest, and recreation (for example, camping, hiking, and fishing). 
Other land uses that may be affected will be identified as we develop a 
draft economic analysis for the proposed designation.
    We will announce the availability of the draft economic analysis as 
soon as it is completed, at which time we will seek public review and 
comment. At that time, copies of the draft economic analysis will be 
available for downloading from the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov, or by contacting the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office directly (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). During the 
development of a final designation, we will consider economic impacts, 
public comments, and other new information, and areas may be excluded 
from the final critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of 
the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.
Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands owned or managed by the Department of Defense where a national 
security impact might exist. In preparing this proposal, we have 
determined that the lands within the proposed designation of critical 
habitat for Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, northern DPS of the 
mountain yellow-legged frog, and Yosemite toad are not owned or managed 
by the Department of Defense, and, therefore, we anticipate no impact 
on national security. Consequently, the Secretary is not currently 
seeking to exercise 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,

[[Page 24542]]

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 proposal, we have determined that there are 
currently no HCPs or other management plans for Sierra Nevada yellow-
legged frog, northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog, or 
Yosemite toad, and the proposed designation does not include any tribal 
lands or trust resources. Therefore, we anticipate no impact to tribal 
lands, partnerships, or HCPs from this proposed critical habitat 
designation. Accordingly, the Secretary is not currently seeking to 
exercise his discretion to exclude any areas from the final designation 
based on other relevant impacts.

Peer Review

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

Public Hearings

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

Required Determinations

    Our draft economic analysis will be completed after this proposed 
rule is published. Therefore, we will defer our Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use--
Executive Order 13211, Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et 
seq.), and Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), 
findings until after this analysis is done.

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

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

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

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C 801 et seq.), whenever an agency must publish 
a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare 
and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis 
that describes the effects of the rule on small entities (small 
businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). 
However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of 
the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended 
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.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses 
include such businesses as 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 forestry and logging 
operations with fewer than 500 employees and annual business less than 
$7 million. To determine whether small entities may be affected, we 
will consider the types of activities that might trigger regulatory 
impacts under this designation as well as 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.
    Importantly, the incremental impacts of a rule must be both 
significant and substantial to prevent certification of the rule under 
the RFA and to require the preparation of an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis. If a substantial number of small entities are 
affected by the proposed critical habitat designation, but the per-
entity economic impact is not significant, the Service may certify. 
Likewise, if the per-entity economic impact is likely to be 
significant, but the number of affected entities is not substantial, 
the Service may also certify.
    Under the RFA, as amended, and following recent court decisions, 
Federal agencies are only required to evaluate the potential 
incremental impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly regulated 
by the rulemaking itself, and not the potential impacts to indirectly 
affected entities. The regulatory mechanism through which critical 
habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which 
requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure 
that any action authorized, funded, or carried by the Agency is not 
likely to adversely modify critical habitat. Therefore, only Federal 
action agencies are directly subject to the specific regulatory 
requirement (avoiding destruction and adverse modification) imposed by 
critical habitat designation. Under these circumstances, it is our 
position that only Federal action agencies will be directly regulated 
by this designation. Therefore, because Federal agencies are not small 
entities, the Service may

[[Page 24543]]

certify that the proposed critical habitat rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    We acknowledge, however, that in some cases, third-party proponents 
of the action subject to permitting or funding may participate in a 
section 7 consultation, and thus may be indirectly affected. We believe 
it is good policy to assess these impacts if we have sufficient data 
before us to complete the necessary analysis, whether or not this 
analysis is strictly required by the RFA. While this proposed 
regulation does not directly regulate these entities, in our draft 
economic analysis we will conduct a brief evaluation of the potential 
number of third parties participating in consultations on an annual 
basis in order to ensure a more complete examination of the incremental 
effects of this proposed rule in the context of the RFA.
    In conclusion, we believe that, based on our interpretation of 
directly regulated entities under the RFA and relevant case law, this 
proposed designation of critical habitat would only directly regulate 
Federal agencies, which are not by definition small business entities. 
As such, we certify that, if promulgated, this designation of critical 
habitat would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small business entities. Therefore, an initial regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required. However, though not necessarily 
required by the RFA, in our draft economic analysis for this proposal 
we will consider and evaluate the potential effects to third parties 
that may be involved with consultations with Federal action agencies 
related to this action.

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

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. We do not expect that, if adopted as proposed, the 
designation of this proposed critical habitat would significantly 
affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. The degree of spatial 
overlap between proposed critical habitat and extant hydropower is 
insignificant, and normal operations of these resources within current 
guidelines are not anticipated to adversely modify critical habitat. 
Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and no 
Statement of Energy Effects is required. However, we will further 
evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and 
revise this assessment as warranted.

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

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    (1) This rule would not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a 
Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation 
that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal 
governments, or the private sector, and includes both ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandates'' and ``Federal private sector mandates.'' 
These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)-(7). ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose 
an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments'' with two 
exceptions. It excludes ``a condition of Federal assistance.'' It also 
excludes ``a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program,'' unless the regulation ``relates to a then-existing Federal 
program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, 
local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,'' if the 
provision would ``increase the stringency of conditions of assistance'' 
or ``place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government's 
responsibility to provide funding,'' and the State, local, or tribal 
governments ``lack authority'' to adjust accordingly. At the time of 
enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families 
with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; 
Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; 
Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family 
Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ``Federal 
private sector mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose an 
enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of 
Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a 
voluntary Federal program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must 
ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat under section 7. While non-Federal entities that receive 
Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require 
approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be 
indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally 
binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the 
extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they 
receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid 
program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would 
critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs 
listed above onto State governments.
    (2) We do not believe that this rule would significantly or 
uniquely affect small governments because a very tiny fraction of 
designated critical habitat is within the jurisdiction of small 
governments. Therefore, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. 
However, we will further evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic 
analysis, and review and revise this assessment if appropriate.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), 
we have analyzed the potential takings implications of designating 
critical habitat for Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS 
of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad in a takings 
implications assessment. Critical habitat designation does not affect 
landowner actions that do not require Federal funding or permits, nor 
does it preclude development of habitat conservation programs or 
issuance of incidental take permits to permit actions that do require 
Federal funding or permits to go forward. The takings implications 
assessment concludes that this designation of critical habitat for the 
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS of the mountain 
yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad does not pose significant 
takings implications for lands within or affected by the designation.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this 
proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A 
federalism impact summary statement is not required. In keeping with 
Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we 
requested information from, and coordinated development of, this 
proposed critical habitat designation with appropriate State resource 
agencies in California. The designation of critical

[[Page 24544]]

habitat in areas currently occupied by the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged 
frog, the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the 
Yosemite toad may impose nominal additional regulatory restrictions to 
those currently in place and, therefore, may have little incremental 
impact on State and local governments and their activities. The 
designation may have some benefit to these governments because the 
areas that contain the physical 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 applicable 
standards set forth in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We are 
designating critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the 
Act. To assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the 
species, the rule identifies the elements of physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. The designated 
areas of critical habitat are presented on maps, and the rule provides 
several options for the interested public to obtain more detailed 
location information, if desired.

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

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

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

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

Clarity of the Rule

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

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, 
Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), 
we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with 
tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge 
that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal 
public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make 
information available to tribes.
    We determined that there are no tribal lands that are occupied by 
the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS of the mountain 
yellow-legged frog, or the Yosemite toad at the time of listing that 
contain the features essential to conservation of the species, and no 
tribal lands unoccupied by the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Yosemite toad 
that are essential for the conservation of the species. Therefore, we 
are not proposing to designate critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada 
yellow-legged frog, the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged 
frog, and the Yosemite toad on tribal lands.

References Cited

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

Authors

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

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--[AMENDED]

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

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, 
unless otherwise noted.

0
2. In Sec.  17.95, amend paragraph (d) by adding entries for ``Mountain 
Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa), Northern California DPS'', ``Sierra 
Nevada Yellow-legged Frog (Rana sierrae)'', and ``Yosemite Toad 
(Anaxyrus canorus)'' in the same alphabetical order that these

[[Page 24545]]

species appear in the table at Sec.  17.11(h), to read as follows:


Sec.  17.95  Critical habitat--fish and wildlife.

* * * * *
    (d) Amphibians.
* * * * *
Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana muscosa), Northern California DPS
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Fresno and Tulare 
Counties, California, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog consist of:
    (i) Aquatic habitat for breeding and rearing. Habitat that consists 
of permanent water bodies, or those that are either hydrologically 
connected with, or close to, permanent water bodies, including, but not 
limited to, lakes, streams, rivers, tarns, perennial creeks (or 
permanent plunge pools within intermittent creeks), pools (such as a 
body of impounded water contained above a natural dam), and other forms 
of aquatic habitat. This habitat must:
    (A) Be of sufficient depth not to freeze solid (to the bottom) 
during the winter (no less than 1.7 m (5.6 ft), but generally greater 
than 2.5 m (8.2 ft), and optimally 5 m (16.4 ft) or deeper (unless some 
other refuge from freezing is available)).
    (B) Maintain a natural flow pattern, including periodic flooding, 
and have functional community dynamics in order to provide sufficient 
productivity and a prey base to support the growth and development of 
rearing tadpoles and metamorphs.
    (C) Be free of fish and other introduced predators.
    (D) Maintain water during the entire tadpole growth phase (a 
minimum of 2 years). During periods of drought, these breeding sites 
may not hold water long enough for individuals to complete 
metamorphosis, but they may still be considered essential breeding 
habitat if they provide sufficient habitat in most years to foster 
recruitment within the reproductive lifespan of individual adult frogs.
    (E) Contain:
    (1) Bank and pool substrates consisting of varying percentages of 
soil or silt, sand, gravel, cobble, rock, and boulders;
    (2) Shallower lake microhabitat with solar exposure to warm lake 
areas and to foster primary productivity of the food web;
    (3) Open gravel banks and rocks projecting above or just beneath 
the surface of the water for adult sunning posts;
    (4) Aquatic refugia, including pools with bank overhangs, downfall 
logs or branches, or rocks to provide cover from predators; and
    (5) Sufficient food resources to provide for tadpole growth and 
development.
    (ii) Aquatic nonbreeding habitat (including overwintering habitat). 
This habitat may contain the same characteristics as aquatic breeding 
and rearing habitat (often at the same locale), and may include lakes, 
ponds, tarns, streams, rivers, creeks, plunge pools within intermittent 
creeks, seeps, and springs that may not hold water long enough for the 
species to complete its aquatic life cycle. This habitat provides for 
shelter, foraging, predator avoidance, and aquatic dispersal of 
juvenile and adult mountain yellow-legged frogs. Aquatic nonbreeding 
habitat contains:
    (A) Bank and pool substrates consisting of varying percentages of 
soil or silt, sand, gravel, cobble, rock, and boulders;
    (B) Open gravel banks and rocks projecting above or just beneath 
the surface of the water for adult sunning posts;
    (C) Aquatic refugia, including pools with bank overhangs, downfall 
logs or branches, or rocks to provide cover from predators;
    (D) Sufficient food resources to provide for tadpole growth and 
development;
    (E) Overwintering refugee, where thermal properties of the 
microhabitat protect hibernating life stages from winter freezing, such 
as crevices or holes within granite, in and near shore; and/or
    (F) Streams, stream reaches, or wet meadow habitats that can 
function as corridors for movement between aquatic habitats used as 
breeding or foraging sites.
    (iii) Upland areas.
    (A) Upland areas adjacent to or surrounding breeding and 
nonbreeding aquatic habitat that provide area for feeding and movement 
by mountain yellow-legged frogs.
    (1) For stream habitats, this area extends 25 m (82 ft) from the 
bank or shoreline.
    (2) In areas that contain riparian habitat and upland vegetation 
(for example, mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, montane hardwood conifer, 
and montane riparian woodlands), the canopy overstory should be 
sufficiently thin (generally not to exceed 85 percent) to allow 
sunlight to reach the aquatic habitat and thereby provide basking areas 
for the species.
    (3) For areas between proximate (within 300m (984 ft)) water bodies 
(typical of some high mountain lake habitats), the upland area extends 
from the bank or shoreline between such water bodies.
    (4) Within mesic habitats such as lake and meadow systems, the 
entire area of physically contiguous or proximate habitat is suitable 
for dispersal and foraging.
    (B) Upland areas (catchments) adjacent to and surrounding both 
breeding and nonbreeding aquatic habitat that provide for the natural 
hydrologic regime (water quantity) of aquatic habitats. These upland 
areas should also allow for the maintenance of sufficient water quality 
to provide for the various life stages of the frog and its prey base.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. The critical habitat subunit maps 
were originally created using ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop 10 software and 
then exported as .emf files. All maps are in the North American Datum 
of 1983 (NAD83), Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Zone 10N. The 
California County Boundaries dataset (Teale Data Center), and the USA 
Minor Highways, USA Major Roads, and USA Rivers and Streams layers 
(ESRI's 2010 StreetMap Data) were incorporated as base layers to assist 
in the geographic location of the critical habitat subunits. The 
coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based are 
available to the public on http://regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-
ES-2012-0074, on our Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/sacramento), and 
at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way Room W-
2605, Sacramento CA 95825.
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

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* * * * *
Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana sierrae)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Lassen, Butte, Plumas, 
Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, 
Mono, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Inyo Counties, California, on the 
maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog consist of:
    (i) Aquatic habitat for breeding and rearing. Habitat that consists 
of permanent water bodies, or those that are either hydrologically 
connected with, or close to, permanent water bodies, including, but not 
limited to, lakes, streams, rivers, tarns, perennial creeks (or 
permanent plunge pools within intermittent creeks), pools (such as a 
body of impounded water contained above a natural dam), and other forms 
of aquatic habitat. This habitat must:
    (A) Be of sufficient depth not to freeze solid (to the bottom) 
during the winter (no less than 1.7 m (5.6 ft), but generally greater 
than 2.5 m (8.2 ft), and optimally 5 m (16.4 ft) or deeper (unless some 
other refuge from freezing is available)).
    (B) Maintain a natural flow pattern, including periodic flooding, 
and have

[[Page 24549]]

functional community dynamics in order to provide sufficient 
productivity and a prey base to support the growth and development of 
rearing tadpoles and metamorphs.
    (C) Be free of fish and other introduced predators.
    (D) Maintain water during the entire tadpole growth phase (a 
minimum of 2 years). During periods of drought, these breeding sites 
may not hold water long enough for individuals to complete 
metamorphosis, but they may still be considered essential breeding 
habitat if they provide sufficient habitat in most years to foster 
recruitment within the reproductive lifespan of individual adult frogs.
    (E) Contain:
    (1) Bank and pool substrates consisting of varying percentages of 
soil or silt, sand, gravel, cobble, rock, and boulders;
    (2) Shallower lake microhabitat with solar exposure to warm lake 
areas and to foster primary productivity of the food web;
    (3) Open gravel banks and rocks projecting above or just beneath 
the surface of the water for adult sunning posts;
    (4) Aquatic refugia, including pools with bank overhangs, downfall 
logs or branches, or rocks to provide cover from predators; and
    (5) Sufficient food resources to provide for tadpole growth and 
development.
    (ii) Aquatic nonbreeding habitat (including overwintering habitat). 
This habitat may contain the same characteristics as aquatic breeding 
and rearing habitat (often at the same locale), and may include lakes, 
ponds, tarns, streams, rivers, creeks, plunge pools within intermittent 
creeks, seeps, and springs that may not hold water long enough for the 
species to complete its aquatic life cycle. This habitat provides for 
shelter, foraging, predator avoidance, and aquatic dispersal of 
juvenile and adult mountain yellow-legged frogs. Aquatic nonbreeding 
habitat contains:
    (A) Bank and pool substrates consisting of varying percentages of 
soil or silt, sand, gravel, cobble, rock, and boulders;
    (B) Open gravel banks and rocks projecting above or just beneath 
the surface of the water for adult sunning posts;
    (C) Aquatic refugia, including pools with bank overhangs, downfall 
logs or branches, or rocks to provide cover from predators;
    (D) Sufficient food resources to provide for tadpole growth and 
development;
    (E) Overwintering refugee, where thermal properties of the 
microhabitat protect hibernating life stages from winter freezing, such 
as crevices or holes within granite, in and near shore; and/or
    (F) Streams, stream reaches, or wet meadow habitats that can 
function as corridors for movement between aquatic habitats used as 
breeding or foraging sites.
    (iii) Upland areas.
    (A) Upland areas adjacent to or surrounding breeding and 
nonbreeding aquatic habitat that provide area for feeding and movement 
by mountain yellow-legged frogs.
    (1) For stream habitats, this area extends 25 m (82 ft) from the 
bank or shoreline.
    (2) In areas that contain riparian habitat and upland vegetation 
(for example, mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, montane hardwood conifer, 
and montane riparian woodlands), the canopy overstory should be 
sufficiently thin (generally not to exceed 85 percent) to allow 
sunlight to reach the aquatic habitat and thereby provide basking areas 
for the species.
    (3) For areas between proximate (within 300m (984 ft)) water bodies 
(typical of some high mountain lake habitats), the upland area extends 
from the bank or shoreline between such water bodies.
    (4) Within mesic habitats such as lake and meadow systems, the 
entire area of physically contiguous or proximate habitat is suitable 
for dispersal and foraging.
    (B) Upland areas (catchments) adjacent to and surrounding both 
breeding and nonbreeding aquatic habitat that provide for the natural 
hydrologic regime (water quantity) of aquatic habitats. These upland 
areas should also allow for the maintenance of sufficient water quality 
to provide for the various life stages of the frog and its prey base.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. The critical habitat subunit maps 
were originally created using ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop 10 software and 
then exported as .emf files. All maps are in the North American Datum 
of 1983 (NAD83), Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Zone 10N. The 
California County Boundaries dataset (Teale Data Center), and the USA 
Minor Highways, USA Major Roads, and USA Rivers and Streams layers 
(ESRI's 2010 StreetMap Data) were incorporated as base layers to assist 
in the geographic location of the critical habitat subunits. The 
coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based are 
available to the public on http://regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-
ES-2012-0074, on our Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/sacramento), and 
at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way Room W-
2605, Sacramento CA 95825.

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* * * * *
Yosemite Toad (Anaxyrus canorus)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Alpine, Tuolumne, Mono, 
Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Inyo Counties, California, on the maps 
below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Yosemite toad consist of two components:
    (i) Aquatic breeding habitat. (A) This habitat consists of bodies 
of fresh water, including wet meadows, slow-moving streams, shallow 
ponds, spring systems, and shallow areas of lakes, that:
    (1) Are typically (or become) inundated during snowmelt,
    (2) Hold water for a minimum of 5 weeks, and
    (3) Contain sufficient food for tadpole development.
    (B) During periods of drought or less than average rainfall, these 
breeding sites may not hold water long enough for individual Yosemite 
toads to complete metamorphosis, but they are still considered 
essential breeding habitat because they provide habitat in most years.
    (ii) Upland areas. (A) This habitat consists of areas adjacent to 
or surrounding breeding habitat up to a distance of 1.25 km (0.78 mi) 
in most

[[Page 24557]]

cases (that is, depending on surrounding landscape and dispersal 
barriers), including seeps, springheads, and areas that provide:
    (1) Sufficient cover (including rodent burrows, logs, rocks, and 
other surface objects) to provide summer refugia,
    (2) Foraging habitat,
    (3) Adequate prey resources,
    (4) Physical structure for predator avoidance,
    (5) Overwintering refugia for juvenile and adult Yosemite toads,
    (6) Dispersal corridors between aquatic breeding habitats,
    (7) Dispersal corridors between breeding habitats and areas of 
suitable summer and winter refugia and foraging habitat, and/or
    (8) The natural hydrologic regime of aquatic habitats (the 
catchment).
    (B) These upland areas should also allow maintain sufficient water 
quality to provide for the various life stages of the Yosemite toad and 
its prey base.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. The critical habitat subunit maps 
were originally created using ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop 10 software and 
then exported as .emf files. All maps are in the North American Datum 
of 1983 (NAD83), Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Zone 10N. The 
California County Boundaries dataset (Teale Data Center), and the USA 
Minor Highways, USA Major Roads, and USA Rivers and Streams layers 
(ESRI's 2010 StreetMap Data) were incorporated as base layers to assist 
in the geographic location of the critical habitat subunits. The 
coordinates or plot points or both on which each map is based are 
available to the public on http://regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-
ES-2012-0100, on our Internet site (http://www.fws.gov/sacramento), and 
at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way Room W-
2605, Sacramento CA 95825.

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* * * * *

    Dated: April 12, 2013.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2013-09598 Filed 4-24-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C