[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 85 (Wednesday, May 2, 2012)]
[Pages 26034-26035]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10576]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-ES-2012-N089; 4500030113]

Information Collection Request Sent to the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) for Approval; Policy for Evaluation of Conservation 
Efforts When Making Listing Decisions (PECE)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) have sent an Information 
Collection Request (ICR) to OMB for review and approval. We summarize 
the ICR below and describe the nature of the collection and the 
estimated burden and cost. This information collection is scheduled to 
expire on May 31, 2012. We 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. However, under OMB 
regulations, we may continue to conduct or sponsor this information 
collection while it is pending at OMB.

DATES: You must submit comments on or before June 1, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments and suggestions on this information 
collection to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at 
OMB-OIRA at (202) 395-5806 (fax) or [email protected] (email). 
Please provide a copy of your comments to the Service Information 
Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS 2042-
PDM, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203 (mail), or 
[email protected] (email). Please include ``1018-0119'' in the subject 
line of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information 
about this ICR, contact Hope Grey at [email protected] (email) or 703-
358-2482 (telephone). You may review the ICR online at http://www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the 
Interior collections under review by OMB.

    OMB Control Number: 1018-0119.
    Title: Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making 
Listing Decisions (PECE).
    Service Form Number(s): None.
    Type of Request: Extension of currently approved collection.
    Description of Respondents: Primarily State, local, or tribal 
governments. However, individuals, businesses, and not-for-profit 
organizations could develop agreements/plans or may agree to implement 
certain conservation efforts identified in a State agreement/plan.
    Respondent's Obligation: Required to obtain or retain a benefit.
    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.

                    Activity                         Number of       Number of       time per      Total annual
                                                    respondents      responses       response      burden hours
Original Agreement..............................               4               4           2,000           8,000
Monitoring......................................               7               7             600           4,200
Reporting.......................................               7               7             120             840
    Totals......................................              18              18  ..............          13,040

    Abstract: Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) specifies the process by which we can list species as 
threatened or endangered. When we consider whether or not to list a 
species, the ESA requires us to take into account the efforts being 
made by any State or any political subdivision of a State to protect 
such species. We also take into account the efforts being made by other 
entities. States or other entities often formalize conservation efforts 
in conservation agreements, conservation plans, management plans, or 
similar documents. The conservation efforts recommended or called for 
in such documents could prevent some species from becoming so imperiled 
that they meet the definition of a threatened or endangered species 
under the ESA.
    The Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making 
Listing Decisions (PECE) (68 FR 15100, March 28, 2003) encourages the 
development of conservation agreements/plans and provides certainty 
about the standard that an individual conservation effort must meet for 
us to consider whether it contributes to forming a basis for making a 
decision about the listing of a species. PECE applies to ``formalized 
conservation efforts'' that have not been implemented or have been 
implemented but have not yet demonstrated if they are effective at the 
time of a listing decision.
    Under PECE, formalized conservation efforts are defined as 
conservation efforts (specific actions, activities, or programs 
designed to eliminate or reduce threats or otherwise improve the status 
of a species) identified in a conservation agreement, conservation 
plan, management plan, or similar document. To assist us in evaluating 
a formalized conservation effort under PECE, we collect information 
such as a conservation plan, monitoring results, or progress reports. 
The development of such agreements/plans is voluntary. There is no 
requirement that the individual conservation efforts included

[[Page 26035]]

in such documents be designed to meet the standard in PECE. The PECE 
policy is posted on our Candidate Conservation Web site at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/candidate-conservation-process.html.
    Comments: On November 15, 2011, we published in the Federal 
Register (76 FR 70748) a notice of our intent to request that OMB renew 
approval for this information collection. In that notice, we solicited 
comments for 60 days, ending on January 17, 2012. We received two 
comments in response to this notice.
    Commenter 1 agreed that the collection of information is necessary. 
The commenter recommends that the PECE policy be vetted with 
nongovernment organizations (NGOs), States, and Federal agencies so 
that when these groups are developing conservation efforts for species 
that may be petitioned to be listed under the ESA, they understand the 
evaluation bar that must be met in order for their conservation efforts 
to be considered as part of the Service's listing determination.
    Response: On June 13, 2000, we published a Federal Register notice 
(65 FR 37102) soliciting public comments on the draft policy. We 
received comments from 44 entities, primarily States and NGOs. We 
evaluated these comments and incorporated them into the final policy, 
which includes a section on the evaluation criteria that conservation 
efforts must meet. The final policy is posted on our Candidate 
Conservation Web page (http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/candidate-conservation-process.html) and on our Laws and Policies Web 
page (http://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/regulations-and-policies.html).
    Commenter 2 objected to paying for the collection of information 
and said that funding should be eliminated. The commenter also said its 
purpose is not explained very well.
    Response: Evaluation of conservation actions as part of our listing 
decision is required by the ESA, and therefore cannot be eliminated. An 
explanation of the policy and the policy itself are posted on our 
Candidate Conservation Web page. The commenter did not provide comments 
on the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and 
clarity of information; or on the ways to minimize the burden.
    Commenter 1 agreed that the PECE policy will not have a $100 
million annual effect or adversely affect an economic sector, 
productivity, jobs, the environment, or other units of government in 
the collection of data. However, the commenter stated that the 
implementation of conservation efforts measures associated with the 
listing under the ESA will certainly meet both the monetary bar and the 
adverse impacts bar.
    Response: The burden estimates for implementing conservation 
actions covered by this information collection are limited to the 
amount of time needed to prepare the conservation agreements and to 
conduct the monitoring and reporting. The burden estimates do not cover 
the monetary cost of implementing the conservation measures themselves. 
The ESA specifies that we must base listing determinations solely on 
the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available 
(emphasis added) after conducting a review of the status of the species 
and after taking into account those conservation practices, if any, 
being made by any State or any political subdivision of a State to 
protect such species. In making a listing determination, we also 
consider the conservation efforts of entities other than States and 
political subdivisions of States. The PECE policy describes how we will 
evaluate, as part of the listing determination, the extent which these 
conservation actions reduce the threats facing a species. Under the 
requirements of the ESA, we cannot use economic impacts as part of our 
listing determination.
    Commenter 1 stated that the PECE policy is not well distributed or 
understood, and claimed that finding the most recent PECE was 
difficult. The commenter suggested that we provide a link to the most 
recent version for future review, and stated that better dissemination 
and explanation of the policy would bolster the quality, utility and 
clarity of the information.
    Response: See above for links to the policy.
    Commenter 1 stated that it is in the State's best interest to have 
conservation programs be successful and to allow activities that have 
and will occur across the landscape to continue. The commenter does not 
mind providing this information, provided that the Service will be 
acting in good faith to advance the conservation program to an approved 
    Response: We coordinate closely with State wildlife management 
agencies in the conservation and management of endangered and 
threatened species under the ESA. State wildlife agencies are our 
primary conservation partners, and we routinely share data with them. 
In addition, under section 6 of the ESA, we provide grants to States 
and territories to participate in a wide array of voluntary 
conservation projects for candidate, proposed, and listed species. The 
grant program provides funding to States and territories for species 
and habitat conservation actions on non-Federal lands. A State or 
territory must currently have, or enter into, an approved cooperative 
agreement with the Secretary of the Interior to receive grants. Most 
States and territories have entered into these agreements for both 
plant and animal species.
    We have not made any changes to our information collection 
requirements as a result of these comments.
    We again invite comments concerning this information collection on:
     Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility;
     The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this 
collection of information;
     Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
     Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on respondents.
    Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of 
public record. Before including your address, phone number, email 
address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you 
should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal 
identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. 
While you can ask OMB in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that it 
will be done.

    Dated: April 26, 2012.
Tina A. Campbell,
Chief, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-10576 Filed 5-1-12; 8:45 am]