[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 107 (Monday, June 4, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 32922-32927]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-13425]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R8-ES-2012-0026; 92220-1113-0000-C5]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To Delist or Reclassify From Endangered to Threatened Six 
California Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition findings and initiation of status 
reviews.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to delist the Inyo California towhee 
(Pipilo crissalis eremophilus), and to reclassify from endangered to 
threatened the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), Indian Knob 
mountainbalm (Eriodictyon altissimum), Lane Mountain milk-vetch 
(Astragalus jaegerianus), Modoc sucker (Catostomus microps), and Santa 
Cruz cypress (Cupressus abramsiana) under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition 
presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating 
that the petitioned actions may be warranted. Therefore, with the 
publication of this notice, we are initiating status reviews of these 
taxa to determine if the respective actions of delisting and 
reclassifying are warranted. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act also 
requires a status review of listed species at least once every 5 years. 
The status reviews we are initiating will also fulfill the requirements 
of section 4(c)(2) of the Act. To ensure that these status reviews are 
comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and 
other information regarding these species and subspecies. Based on 
these status reviews, we will issue 12-month

[[Page 32923]]

findings for each of the species in the petition, which will address 
whether the petitioned actions are warranted under section 4(b)(3)(B) 
of the Act.

DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request 
that we receive information on or before August 3, 2012. Please note 
that if you are using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES 
section below), the deadline for submitting an electronic comment is 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In 
Search field, enter the Docket number for this finding, which is FWS-
R8-ES-2012-0026. Then click the Search button. You should then see an 
entry for this document that includes a button that reads, ``Comment 
Now!'' Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before 
submitting your comment. If your comments will fit in the provided 
comment box, please use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as 
it is most compatible with our comment review procedures. If you attach 
your comments as a separate document, our preferred file format is 
Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple comments (such as form letters), 
our preferred format is a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2012-0026; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 
2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will post all information we receive on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Request for Information 
section below for more details).
    After August 3, 2012, you must submit information directly to the 
Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Please note that we 
might not be able to address or incorporate information that we receive 
after the above requested date.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information regarding the Modoc 
sucker, contact Laurie Sada, Field Supervisor, by mail at U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office, 1936 
California Avenue, Klamath Falls, OR 97601; by telephone at 541-885-
8481; or by facsimile at 541-885-7837.
    For information regarding the Inyo California towhee, arroyo toad, 
Indian Knob mountainbalm, Lane Mountain milk-vetch, or Santa Cruz 
cypress, contact Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, by mail at U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road 
Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; by telephone at 805-644-1766; or by 
facsimile at 805-644-3958. If you use a telecommunications device for 
the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Request for Information

    When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial 
information indicating that delisting or reclassifying a species may be 
warranted, we are required to promptly review the status of the species 
(status review). For the status reviews to be complete and based on the 
best available scientific and commercial information, we request 
information on the Inyo California towhee, arroyo toad, Indian Knob 
mountainbalm, Lane Mountain milk-vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz 
cypress from governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the 
scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties. We 
seek information on:
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
    (a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, their 
habitats, or both.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing, delisting, 
or downlisting determination for a species under section 4(a) of the 
Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.):
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
references to scientific journal articles or other publications) to 
allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you 
include.
    Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action 
under consideration without providing supporting information, although 
noted, cannot be considered in making a determination. Section 
4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any 
species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ``solely on 
the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.''
    You may submit your information concerning these status reviews by 
one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit 
information via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire submission--
including any personal identifying information--will be posted on the 
Web site. If you submit a hardcopy that includes personal identifying 
information, you may request at the top of your document that we 
withhold this personal identifying information from public review. 
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will 
post all hardcopy submissions at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Information and supporting documentation that we received and used 
in preparing this finding are available for you to review at http://www.regulations.gov, or you may make an appointment during normal 
business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Klamath Falls or 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)) requires 
that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or 
reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We 
are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, 
supporting information submitted with the petition, and information 
otherwise available in our files. To the maximum extent practicable, we 
are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition 
and publish our notice of the finding promptly in the Federal Register.
    Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information 
within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day 
petition finding is ``that amount of information that would lead a 
reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition 
may be warranted'' (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial 
scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to 
promptly conduct a species status review, which we

[[Page 32924]]

subsequently summarize in our 12-month finding.
    Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of 
listed species at least once every 5 years. We are then, under section 
4(c)(2)(B), to determine on the basis of such a review whether or not 
any species should be removed from the List (delisted), or reclassified 
from endangered to threatened, or threatened to endangered. Our 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing those species currently under active 
review. This notice announces our active review of the Inyo California 
towhee, arroyo toad, Indian Knob mountainbalm, Lane Mountain milk-
vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz cypress.

Petition History

    On December 21, 2011, we received a petition dated December 19, 
2011, from The Pacific Legal Foundation, requesting the Service to 
delist the Inyo California towhee, and to reclassify from endangered to 
threatened the arroyo toad, Indian Knob mountainbalm, Lane Mountain 
milk-vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz cypress, based on the analysis 
and recommendations contained in the most recent 5-year reviews for 
these taxa. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included 
the requisite identification information for the petitioner, as 
required by 50 CFR 424.14(a).

Previous Federal Actions

    Under the Act, we maintain the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for 
plants) (Lists). We amend the Lists by publishing final rules in the 
Federal Register. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we 
conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years. Section 
4(c)(2)(B) requires that we determine: (1) Whether a species no longer 
meets the definition of threatened or endangered and should be removed 
from the Lists (delisted), (2) whether a species listed as endangered 
more properly meets the definition of threatened and should be 
reclassified to threatened (downlisted), or (3) whether a species 
listed as threatened more properly meets the definition of endangered 
and should be reclassified to endangered (uplisted). Using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, we will consider a species 
for delisting if the data substantiate that the species is neither 
endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) 
The species is considered extinct; (2) the species is considered 
recovered; or (3) the original data available when the species was 
listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error.
    The Inyo California towhee was listed as threatened in 1987, and 
critical habitat was designated concurrent with the listing (52 FR 
28780, August 3, 1987). At the time of listing, this species was 
classified as the subspecies Pipilo fuscus eremophilus. Following the 
American Ornithologist Union (1989), we now recognize this subspecies 
as the Inyo California towhee (P. crissalis eremophilus). A recovery 
plan was published for the species in 1998 (Service 1998a). A notice 
initiating a 5-year review was published for the Inyo California towhee 
in 2006 (71 FR 14538, March 22, 2006). A 5-year review completed in 
2008 recommended that the Inyo California towhee be delisted (74 FR 
12878, March 25, 2009; Service 2008a, p. 20).
    The arroyo toad was listed as endangered in 1994 (59 FR 64859, 
December 16, 1994). At the time the species was listed, it was 
classified as a subspecies (Bufo microscaphus californicus) of the 
southwestern toad (B. microscaphus). However, the taxonomy of the 
arroyo toad was re-examined (Gergus 1998), and as a result, in 2001, 
the Service formally changed the name on the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife to B. californicus (66 FR 9414, February 7, 2001). 
Based on a phylogenetic analysis of comparative anatomical and 
molecular genetic data for amphibians (Frost et al. 2006, p. 363), the 
Service again formally changed the name on the List to Anaxyrus 
californicus in 2011 (76 FR 7246, February 9, 2011). A recovery plan 
was published in 1999 (Service 1999). Critical habitat was designated 
in 2001 (66 FR 9414, February 7, 2001) and revised in 2005 (70 FR 
19562, April 13, 2005). Critical habitat was revised a second time in 
2011 (76 FR 7246, February 9, 2011). A notice initiating a 5-year 
review was published in 2008 (73 FR 11945, March 5, 2008), and a 5-year 
review completed in 2009 recommended that the arroyo toad be 
reclassified to threatened (75 FR 28636, May 21, 2010; Service 2009a, 
p. 31).
    Indian Knob mountainbalm was listed as endangered in 1994 (59 FR 
64613, December 15, 1994). Critical habitat has not been designated for 
this species. A recovery plan was published in 1998 (Service 1998b). A 
notice of review initiating a 5-year review was published in 2006 (71 
FR 14538, March 22, 2006), and a 5-year review completed in 2009 
recommended that Indian knob mountainbalm be reclassified to threatened 
(75 FR 28636, May 21, 2010; Service 2009b, p. 15).
    Lane Mountain milk-vetch was listed as endangered in 1998 (63 FR 
53596, October 6, 1998). In 2005, we completed a critical habitat 
rulemaking process that resulted in a decision to designate zero (0) 
acres of critical habitat for this species (70 FR 18220, April 8, 
2005). In 2011, we revised the critical habitat designation and 
designated 14,069 acres (76 FR 29108, May 19, 2011). No recovery plan 
has been completed for Lane Mountain milk-vetch. A notice initiating a 
5-year review was published for the species in 2006 (71 FR 14538, March 
22, 2006), and a 5-year review completed in 2008 recommended that Lane 
Mountain milk-vetch be reclassified to threatened (74 FR 12878, March 
25, 2009; Service 2008b, p. 20)).
    Modoc sucker was listed as endangered in 1985, and critical habitat 
was designated concurrent with the listing (50 FR 24526, June 11, 
1985). At the time of listing, the Service, the California Department 
of Fish and Game, and the U.S. Forest Service were developing an 
``Action Plan for the Recovery of the Modoc sucker.'' The April 27, 
1983, revision of this Plan was formally signed by all participants in 
1984 (Service 1984). We determined that the Action Plan and its 1989 
revisions adequately fulfilled the requirements of a recovery plan, and 
in a 1992 memorandum from the Regional Director (Region 1) to the 
Service's Director, we adopted it as the Recovery Plan for the Modoc 
sucker (Service 1992). A notice initiating a 5-year review was 
published for the Modoc sucker in 2006 (71 FR 14538, March 22, 2006), 
and a 5-year review completed in 2009 recommended that the Modoc sucker 
be reclassified to threatened (75 FR 28636, May 21, 2010; Service 
2009c, p. 38).
    Santa Cruz cypress was listed as endangered in 1987 (52 FR 675, 
January 8, 1987), and critical habitat has not been designated. A 
recovery plan was completed for the species in 1998 (Service 1998c). A 
notice initiating a 5-year review was published for Santa Cruz cypress 
in 2007 (72 FR 7064, February 14, 2007), and a 5-year review completed 
in 2009 recommended that Santa Cruz cypress be reclassified to 
threatened (75 FR 28636, May 21, 2010; Service 2009d, p. 18).

[[Page 32925]]



                                  Table 1--Previous Federal Actions for the Six Taxa Addressed in This Petition Finding
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                                                                Critical habitat                                         Most recent 5-year  review and
            Species name             Date listed and status        designated             Recovery plan  published               recommendation
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Inyo California towhee (Pipilo       August 3, 1987 (52 FR   August 3, 1987 (52 FR   April 10, 1998...................  September 30, 2008.
 crissalis eremophilus).              28780).                 28780).                                                   Delist.
                                     Threatened............
Arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus)  December 16, 1994 (59   February 9, 2011 (76    July 24, 1999....................  August 17, 2009.
                                      FR 64859).              FR 7246).                                                 Downlist.
                                     Endangered............
Eriodictyon altissimum (Indian Knob  December 15, 1994 (59   None..................  September 26, 1998...............  February 4, 2009.
 mountainbalm).                       FR 64613).                                                                        Downlist.
                                     Endangered............
Astragalus jaegerianus (Lane         October 6, 1998 (63 FR  May 19, 2011 (76 FR     None.............................  July 10, 2008.
 Mountain milk-vetch).                53596).                 29108).                                                   Downlist.
                                     Endangered............
Modoc sucker (Catostomus microps)..  June 11, 1985 (50 FR    June 11, 1985 (50 FR    February 28, 1992................  August 3, 2009.
                                      24526).                 24526).                                                   Downlist.
                                     Endangered............
Cupressus abramsiana (Santa Cruz     January 8, 1987 (52 FR  None..................  September 29, 1998...............  August 17, 2009.
 cypress).                            675).                                                                             Downlist.
                                     Endangered............
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Species Information

    The Inyo California towhee is a subspecies of the California towhee 
(Pipilo crissalis) found in the southern Argus Mountains of the Mojave 
Desert in Inyo County, California. This subspecies requires areas of 
dense riparian vegetation to provide nesting substrate, protection from 
predators, and shade from the desert sun. It also uses upland creosote 
vegetation for nesting and foraging. For more information on the life 
history, biology, and distribution of Inyo California towhee, see the 
2008 5-year review of the species at http://www.regulations.gov or 
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
    The arroyo toad is a small, dark-spotted toad that occurs in the 
headwaters of coastal drainages in southern California. Its breeding 
habitat consists of slow-moving streams with shallow pools, nearby 
sandbars, and adjacent stream terraces. The arroyo toad breeds and 
deposits egg masses in shallow sandy pools that are usually bordered by 
sand and gravel flood terraces. Outside of the breeding season, arroyo 
toads are essentially terrestrial and are known to use a variety of 
upland habitats. For more information on the life history, biology, and 
distribution of the arroyo toad, see the 2009 5-year review of the 
species at http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
    Indian Knob mountainbalm is a perennial plant species endemic to 
southwestern San Luis Obispo County, California. It is a diffusely 
branched evergreen shrub that can reach heights of 6 to 13 feet (2 to 4 
meters). New growth occurs primarily from rhizomatous suckers (shoots 
extending from a root-like subterranean stem), but flowers can also 
produce numerous tiny seeds. Indian Knob mountainbalm occurs within 
coastal dune scrub and coastal chaparral plant communities where it 
grows on tar sand or sandy loam soils. For more information on the life 
history, biology, and distribution of Indian Knob mountainbalm, see the 
2009 5-year review of the species at http://www.regulations.gov or 
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
    Lane Mountain milk-vetch is a perennial plant species found in the 
west Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California. It typically 
twines up through a host shrub that it uses for structural support. 
Although the taproot is perennial, the aboveground portion of the plant 
is herbaceous and resprouts from the taproot or old stems with the 
first winter rains, dying back during the drier summer months. In years 
with little rainfall, taproots may remain dormant and few plants will 
be visible. In years with more rainfall, individuals may grow 
vegetatively and produce seed. For more information on the life 
history, biology, and distribution of Lane Mountain milk-vetch, see the 
2008 5-year review of the species at http://www.regulations.gov or 
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
    The Modoc sucker is a relatively small member of the sucker family 
(Catasomidae), usually reaching only 7 inches (17.8 cm) in total length 
when mature. It is known from three stream drainages in the Pit River 
Basin, including the Goose Lake subbasin in northeastern California 
(Modoc and Lassen Counties) and south-central Oregon (Lake County). 
Modoc suckers typically occupy small, moderate-gradient streams with 
low summer flow. They are most abundant in pools, especially those 
deeper than 1 foot (0.3 m), where they graze on algae and small benthic 
invertebrates. For more information on the life history, biology, and 
distribution of the Modoc sucker, see the 2009 5-year review of the 
species at http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
    Santa Cruz cypress is a small-statured tree in the cypress family 
(Cupressaceae), with mature trees reaching 82 feet (25 meters) in 
height. This species occurs as patches within a mosaic of coastal 
chaparral and mixed evergreen forests located on dry ridges inland from 
the coastal fog belt. At an average of 11 years of age, trees begin 
producing cones that slowly release seeds throughout the life of the 
tree. However, fire can accelerate seed release, and areas that have 
been recently disturbed by fire or mechanical means can produce a high 
number of saplings. This species is known from five populations in the 
Santa Cruz Mountains in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties, California. 
For more information on the life history, biology, and distribution of 
Santa Cruz cypress, see the 2009 5-year review of the species at http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

Evaluation of Information for This Finding

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424 set forth the procedures for adding a 
species to, or removing a species from, the Federal Lists of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife

[[Page 32926]]

and Plants. A species may be determined to be an endangered or 
threatened species due to one or more of the five factors described in 
section 4(a)(1) of the Act:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    We must consider these same five factors in delisting a species. We 
may delist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best 
available scientific and commercial data indicate that the species is 
neither endangered nor threatened for the following reasons:
    (1) The species is extinct;
    (2) The species has recovered and is no longer endangered or 
threatened; or
    (3) The original scientific data used at the time the species was 
classified were in error.
    In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information 
regarding threats to Inyo California towhee, arroyo toad, Indian Knob 
mountainbalm, Lane Mountain milk-vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz 
cypress, as presented in the petition and other information available 
in our files, is substantial, thereby indicating that the petitioned 
actions may be warranted. Our evaluation of this information is 
presented below.

Information Provided in the Petition

    The petitioner requested that the Service delist the Inyo 
California towhee, and reclassify the arroyo toad, Indian Knob 
mountainbalm, Lane Mountain milk-vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz 
cypress based on the analysis and recommendations contained in the most 
recent 5-year reviews of these taxa. The petitioner cited the 5-year 
reviews for each of these species as supporting information for the 
petition.

Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in 
Service Files

    On March 25, 2009, we published a notice of completion of 42 5-year 
reviews (74 FR 12878), including the recommendation of status changes 
for the Inyo California towhee and Lane Mountain milk-vetch. On May 21, 
2010, we published a notice of completion of 96 5-year reviews (75 FR 
28636), including the recommendation of status changes for the arroyo 
toad, Indian Knob mountainbalm, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz cypress. 
Status change recommendations for these species are shown in Table 1. 
Each 5-year review contains general background and life-history 
information, overview of recovery criteria, an analysis of threats 
specific to each taxon based on the five listing factors in section 4 
the Act, and recommendation of status change, if appropriate. The 
petitioner cited the 5-year reviews for each of these species as 
supporting information for the petition, but provided no other 
information. We hereby cite and incorporate the data and 
recommendations in the 5-year reviews for each of these species. 
Accordingly, we have already evaluated information regarding threats as 
presented in the petition (see the 5-year reviews of the species at 
http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.).
    The primary rationale for the recommendation in the 2008 5-year 
review to delist the Inyo California towhee was the substantial 
increase in population numbers and expansion of the species' range 
(Service 2008a, p. 19). Additionally, the primary threats identified at 
the time of listing (habitat loss due to grazing, recreation, water 
diversion, and mining) have been significantly reduced. Approximately 
94 percent of the species' range is federally owned and measures are 
being implemented to conserve the species (Service 2008a, p. 19). The 
best available information indicated that the species no longer met the 
definition of endangered or threatened.
    The primary rationale for the recommendation in the 2009 5-year 
review to downlist the arroyo toad was the achievement of the recovery 
plan downlisting criterion of establishing 20 self-sustaining 
populations of arroyo toads (Service 2009a, p. 19). Since listing the 
arroyo toad in 1994, new locations in areas not previously known to be 
occupied by arroyo toads have been discovered as a result of site-
specific surveys. In addition, a new population was discovered in 
Monterey County, and the area known to be occupied by the original 22 
populations has expanded as a result of the discovery of new arroyo 
toad localities. Threats to the arroyo toad identified at the time it 
was listed in 1994 are still present. However, many of these threats 
have been reduced as a result of various conservation measures 
undertaken for the species and management plans that include the 
species (Service 2009a, p. 19). The best available information 
indicated that the species was no longer in imminent danger of 
extinction and best met the definition of threatened.
    The primary reason for the recommendation in the 2009 5-year review 
to downlist Indian Knob mountainbalm was the removal of the threat of 
development throughout the species' range (Service 2009b, p. 11). The 
best available information indicated that occurrences of Indian Knob 
mountainbalm were self-sustaining and stable, were no longer in 
imminent danger of extinction, and that the species best met the 
definition of threatened.
    The primary reason for the recommendation in the 2008 5-year review 
to downlist Lane Mountain milk-vetch was the increased abundance and 
range of the species (Service 2008b, p. 14) compared to that at the 
time of listing. Additionally, information available at the time 
indicated that, while 20 percent of the species' range was at risk of 
extirpation from military exercises, most of the remaining habitat had 
been placed under various conservation designations. Based on this new 
understanding of abundance and range and the planned conservation 
measures, the best available information indicated that Lane Mountain 
milk-vetch was no longer in imminent danger of extinction and best met 
the definition of threatened (Service 2008b, p. 14). Since the 5-year 
review, new information has become available indicating that the number 
of individuals has declined between 2001 and 2011. The information 
provided with the petition, as well as new information contained in our 
files, will be evaluated in the 12-month finding.
    The primary rationale for the 2009 5-year review recommendation to 
downlist the Modoc sucker was the substantial reduction in the threats 
of habitat modification, range reduction, and hybridization (Service 
2009c, p. 26). Habitat conditions on both public and private lands have 
shown substantial improvement. The distribution of known populations 
has remained stable or expanded over the past 20 years. A greater 
understanding of genetic relationships and natural gene flow between 
the Modoc and Sacramento sucker has reduced concerns about 
hybridization between the species. The principal remaining threat is 
predation by nonnative fishes, in particularly brown trout (Salmo 
trutta) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Based on the 
increased range and reduction of threats, the best available 
information indicated that the Modoc sucker was no longer in imminent 
danger of extinction and best met the definition of threatened (Service 
2009c, p. 26).

[[Page 32927]]

    The primary reasons for the 2009 5-year review recommendation to 
downlist Santa Cruz cypress were the reduction in threats and survey 
information indicating there are a substantially greater number of 
individuals than were known at the time of listing (Service 2009d, p. 
12). The threats of residential development, agricultural conversion, 
and logging have decreased since the time of listing, primarily as a 
result of land acquisition for conservation purposes. The species still 
faces threats to its long-term persistence due to a low level of 
regeneration. Based on the reduced threats and increased abundance, the 
best available information indicated that Santa Cruz cypress was no 
longer in imminent danger of extinction and best met the definition of 
threatened (Service 2009d, p. 12).
    Any additional information we receive in response to this finding 
will be incorporated into our status review.

Finding

    On the basis of our determination under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the 
Act, we have determined that the petition and information in our files 
present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating 
that delisting the Inyo California towhee and reclassifying from 
endangered to threatened the arroyo toad, Indian Knob mountainbalm, 
Lane Mountain milk-vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz cypress may be 
warranted. This finding is based on information provided in our 
analyses of the threats to each taxon contained in the most recent 5-
year reviews for each of these taxa.
    Because we have found that the petition presents substantial 
information indicating that delisting the Inyo California towhee, and 
reclassifying the arroyo toad, Indian Knob mountainbalm, Lane Mountain 
milk-vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz cypress may be warranted, we 
are initiating status reviews for the taxa to determine whether the 
petitioned actions of delisting or reclassifying are warranted.
    The ``substantial information'' standard for a 90-day finding 
differs from the Act's ``best scientific and commercial data'' standard 
that applies to a status review to determine whether a petitioned 
action is warranted. A 90-day finding does not constitute a status 
review under the Act. We will complete a thorough status review of each 
species following a substantial 90-day finding. In the resulting 12-
month finding, we will determine whether a petitioned action is 
warranted. Because the Act's standards for 90-day and 12-month findings 
are different, as described above, a substantial 90-day finding does 
not mean that the 12-month finding will result in a warranted finding.

5-Year Reviews

    Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of 
listed species at least once every 5 years. We are then, under section 
4(c)(2)(B), to determine on the basis of such a review whether or not 
any species should be removed from the List (delisted), or reclassified 
from endangered to threatened, or threatened to endangered. Our 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing those species currently under active 
review. This notice announces our active review of the Inyo California 
towhee, arroyo toad, Indian Knob mountainbalm, Lane Mountain milk-
vetch, Modoc sucker, and Santa Cruz cypress.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Klamath Falls or 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Offices (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office in 
Sacramento, California.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: May 17, 2012.
Gregory E. Siekaniec,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-13425 Filed 6-1-12; 8:45 am]
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