[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 144 (Thursday, July 26, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 43799-43803]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-18200]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0051; 4500030113]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To List the Gila Mayfly as Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of petition finding and initiation of status review.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list the Gila mayfly (Lachlania 
dencyanna) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act), and to designate critical habitat. Based on our review, 
we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that listing the Gila mayfly may be warranted. 
Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a 
review of the status of the species to determine if listing the Gila 
mayfly is warranted. To ensure that this status review is 
comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and 
other information regarding this species. Based on the status review, 
we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address 
whether

[[Page 43800]]

the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) 
of the Act.

DATES: We request that we receive information on or before September 
24, 2012. The deadline for submitting an electronic comment using the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) is 11:59 p.m. 
Eastern Time on this date. After September 24, 2012, you must submit 
information directly to the Division of Policy and Directives 
Management (see ADDRESSES section below). Please note that we might not 
be able to address or incorporate information that we receive after the 
above requested date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information 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-R2-ES-
2012-0051, which is the docket number for this action. Then click on 
the Search button. 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-R2-ES-2012-0051; 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).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wally ``J'' Murphy, Field Supervisor, 
New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road NE., 
Albuquerque, NM 87113; by telephone at 505-346-2525; or by facsimile at 
505-3462542. 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 listing a species may be warranted, we are 
required to promptly review the status of the species (status review). 
For the status review to be complete and based on the best available 
scientific and commercial information, we request information on the 
Gila mayfly 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, its 
habitat or both.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing 
determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), which are:
    (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.
    (3) Information regarding surveys for the Gila mayfly.
    (4) Information regarding the effects of climate change on water 
temperature and water levels throughout the Gila mayfly's range.
    If, after the status review, we determine that listing the Gila 
mayfly is warranted, we will propose critical habitat (see definition 
in section 3(5)(A) of the Act) under section 4 of the Act, to the 
maximum extent prudent and determinable at the time we propose to list 
the species. Therefore, we also request data and information on:
    (1) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical range 
currently occupied by the species;
    (2) Where these features are currently found;
    (3) Whether any of these features may require special management 
considerations or protection;
    (4) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species that are ``essential for the conservation of the species''; and
    (5) What, if any, critical habitat you think we should propose for 
designation if the species is proposed for listing, and why such 
habitat meets the requirements of section 4 of the Act.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
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, will not 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 this status review 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 your submission is made via 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 on http://www.regulations.gov.
    Information and supporting documentation that we received and used 
in preparing this finding is available for you to review at http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, 
at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services 
Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act 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 43801]]

subsequently summarize in our 12-month finding.
    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. In a 12-month finding, we will announce our 
determination as to whether a petitioned action is warranted after we 
have completed a thorough status review of the species, which is 
conducted following a substantial 90-day finding. Because the Act's 
standards for 90-day and status review conducted for a 12-month finding 
on a petition are different, as described above, a substantial 90-day 
finding does not mean that our status review and resulting 
determination will result in a warranted finding.

Petition History

    On September 27, 2010, we received a petition dated September 21, 
2010, from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, WildEarth 
Guardians, and Dr. William Patrick McCafferty requesting that the Gila 
mayfly be listed as endangered and that critical habitat be designated 
under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as such and 
included the requisite identification information for the petitioners, 
required at 50 CFR 424.14(a). In a December 1, 2011, letter to the 
petitioners, we responded that we reviewed the information presented in 
the petition and determined that issuing an emergency regulation 
temporarily listing the species under section 4(b)(7) of the Act was 
not warranted. We also stated that due to court orders and judicially 
approved settlement agreements for other listing and critical habitat 
determinations under the Act that required nearly all of our listing 
and critical habitat funding for fiscal year 2011, we would not be able 
to further address the petition at that time but would complete the 
action when workload and funding allowed. This finding addresses the 
petition.

Previous Federal Action(s)

    On June 25, 2007, we received a formal petition dated June 18, 
2007, from Forest Guardians (now WildEarth Guardians), requesting that 
we: (1) Consider all full species in our Southwest Region ranked as G1 
or G2 by the organization NatureServe, except those that are currently 
listed, proposed for listing, or candidates for listing; and (2) List 
each species as either endangered or threatened with critical habitat. 
The petitioned group of species included the Gila mayfly. The petition 
incorporated all analyses, references, and documentation provided by 
NatureServe in its online database at http://www.natureserve.org/ into 
the petition. We sent a letter dated July 11, 2007, to Forest Guardians 
acknowledging receipt of the petition and stating that the petition was 
under review by staff in our Southwest Regional Office. On December 16, 
2009 (74 FR 66866), we published a partial 90-day finding on the 
petition, which included the Gila mayfly. In that finding, we found 
that the petition did not present substantial information indicating 
that listing the Gila mayfly may be warranted.

Species Information

    The following information is from the 2010 petition and information 
readily available in our files.
    Mayflies are elongate, soft-bodied insects in the order 
Ephemeroptera. The aquatic nymphs (larvae) have many of the same 
features as the terrestrial adults, differing mainly in the lack of 
wings and by the presence of gills on the abdomen (Edmunds and Waltz 
1996, p. 127). Mayfly adults generally have two pairs of wings: 
somewhat triangular forewings and much smaller hind wings.
    The Gila mayfly is a member of the family Oligoneuriidae, commonly 
known as the brush-legged mayflies. The presence of mid-dorsal 
abdominal tubercles (small projections on the mid-back) is unique to 
Gila mayfly nymphs and will readily distinguish this species from all 
other known nymphs in the genus Lachlania. Gila mayfly nymphs are 15-17 
millimeters (mm) (0.6-0.7 inches (in)) in body length (Koss and Edmunds 
1970, p. 55). Gila mayfly adults are distinguished from other Lachlania 
species by the pattern of veins on the wings. In particular, this 
species differs from another mayfly, L. saskatchewanensis, by the 
greater number of crossveins in the forewing of the Gila mayfly. We 
accept the characterization of the Gila mayfly as a species because it 
was properly described in peer-reviewed literature (Koss and Edmunds 
1970, pp. 55-65).
    The Gila mayfly is the only mayfly species endemic to New Mexico, 
where it is known from two sites (an unnamed tributary and the East 
Fork of the Gila River), in the upper Gila River drainage (Koss and 
Edmunds 1970, p. 59; McCafferty et al. 1997, pp. 303-304). Nine other 
species of mayflies co-occur in the Gila River system, but they have 
larger ranges and are found in Arizona as well as New Mexico 
(McCafferty et al. 1997, p. 308). The Gila mayfly was first documented 
in July 1967, when one nymph was collected in Grant County, New Mexico, 
in an unnamed tributary to the Gila River, 1.6 kilometers (km) (1 mile 
(mi)) south of Cliff, New Mexico (Koss and Edmunds 1970, pp. 59-60). 
Sixty-three adults and 223 nymphs were subsequently collected in 1967, 
at the type locality, approximately 64 km (40 mi) upstream from the 
first locality, in the East Fork of the Gila River (Koss and Edmunds 
1970, pp. 59-60). Unfortunately, no population estimates were conducted 
at the time of these collections.
    The petitioners claim that 2 adults and 10 nymphs were collected in 
1969, but because no literature is cited to verify this claim, we are 
not sure that this information is reliable. We were unable to verify 
this information, and therefore, we cannot substantiate that the 
species was collected in 1969. We have no information in our files, nor 
was there any in the petition, of additional surveys being made until 
1987. Between 1987 and 1999, 12 surveys were conducted at previously 
known Gila mayfly locations, but no Gila mayflies were found despite 
targeted collection of mayflies. Also, these 12 surveys were conducted 
during the summer months when nymphs could be found (New Mexico 
Environment Department (NMED) 2002, p. 7). Likewise, the petition 
states that extensive benthic macroinvertebrate (invertebrates living 
on the bottom of the stream that are large enough to see without the 
aid of a microscope) monitoring work in other portions of the watershed 
has not revealed this species, although we do not have information to 
verify this claim. According to the petition, the Gila mayfly is not 
known to have been observed or collected since 1969.
    Gila mayfly habitat is largely unknown, but nymphs have been found 
clinging to sticks and other vegetation caught in crevices among rocks 
in rivers and streams (Koss and Edmunds 1970, p. 61). At the time of 
first collection, the East Fork of the Gila River was described as 
being warm, turbid, rapid, and 0.15 to 1.8 meters (0.5 to 2 feet) deep 
(Koss and Edmunds 1970, p. 61).
    In general, mayfly eggs are deposited into water (Edmunds and Waltz 
1996, p. 126). The time it takes for eggs to hatch varies between 
mayfly species, and it may range from several weeks to nearly a year 
(Edmunds and Waltz 1996, p. 126). Mayflies emerge from the eggs as 
aquatic nymphs, which is the stage at which they spend the majority of 
their life cycle. Some species of mayflies remain as nymphs for 
approximately 2

[[Page 43802]]

weeks, while others may remain nymphs for up to 2 years (Edmunds and 
Waltz 1996, p. 126). In general, the length of time they remain at the 
nymph stage appears to depend on water temperature (Edmunds and Waltz 
1996, p. 126). Koss and Edmunds (1970, p. 61) observed that in July, 
most Gila mayfly nymphs appeared to be 1 to 2 weeks from emergence. 
Once mayfly nymphs do emerge and become terrestrial, most adults live 
for 2 hours to 3 days (Edmunds and Waltz 1996, p. 127). However, Koss 
and Edmunds (1970, pp. 61-62) also noted that Gila mayfly adults were 
collected in September, indicating that nymphs could possibly be found 
from July through September.
    Commonly, mayfly nymphs are collectors or scrapers feeding on a 
variety of water particles and algae, as well as some large plants and 
animal material (Edmunds and Waltz 1996, p. 126). Mayfly feeding habits 
vary throughout their life cycle. Newly hatched nymphs feed primarily 
on fine particles of detritus (undissolved organic material), while 
larger individuals frequently feed on algae (Edmunds and Waltz 1996, p. 
126). Adult mayflies have nonfunctioning mouthparts and do not feed 
(Edmunds and Waltz 1996, p. 127).
    In conclusion, the current distribution, abundance, and status of 
the Gila mayfly are largely unknown. Given that the species has not 
been verified in the wild since 1967 despite multiple surveys, it is 
possible that the Gila mayfly may be extinct or that the survey efforts 
were not adequate to detect any remaining individuals. As part of this 
finding, we are requesting additional information on the species' 
status and distribution.

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 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.
    In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look 
beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine 
whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual 
impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no 
response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If 
there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may 
be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat 
it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the 
risk of extinction of the species such that the species may warrant 
listing as endangered or threatened as those terms are defined by the 
Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The 
combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the 
species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of 
factors that could impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to 
compel a finding that listing may be warranted. The information shall 
contain evidence sufficient to suggest that these factors may be 
operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species 
may meet the definition of endangered or threatened under the Act.
    In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information 
regarding threats to the Gila mayfly, as presented in the petition and 
other information readily available in our files, is substantial, 
thereby indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Our 
evaluation of this information is presented below.
    The petition presented information regarding the following factors 
as potential threats to the Gila mayfly: Impaired water quality and 
siltation from grazing and recreational activities, small population 
size, and climate change. We present a discussion of these factors.
    Regarding factor A (the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range), the petition 
asserts that habitat alterations through impaired water quality and 
siltation from grazing and recreational activities are threats to the 
Gila mayfly. To support the petition's claim that impaired water 
quality may impact the species, they cite the Environmental Protection 
Agency's (EPA) water quality impairment report (EPA 2010, pp. 1-2), 
which states that aluminum levels are above the total maximum daily 
load (TMDL) designated for the East Fork Gila River, and cites the 
probable cause of this impairment as being from off-road vehicles and 
forestry practices. Further, the report states that the East Fork of 
the Gila River is unlikely to support a coldwater fishery due to these 
levels of aluminum (EPA 2010, p. 2). The petition states that aluminum 
is toxic to aquatic insects and cite several papers in support of this 
(Tabak and Gibbs 1991, pp. 157-166; Regerand et al. 2005, pp. 192-198; 
Kegley et al. 2009, p. 1).
    Regarding siltation, the petition cites a report by Jacobi (2000), 
which states that silt constituted nearly 75 percent of the substrate 
in known Gila mayfly locations. Because the Gila mayfly uses crevices 
and other small spaces in the substrate, siltation may result in the 
filling in of these crevices and, therefore, less habitat available. 
Increased siltation may be due to historical overgrazing and intense 
recreation. To support the petition's claim that grazing may affect the 
Gila mayfly, they cite several personal communications regarding the 
health of the riparian area along the East Fork of the Gila River, as 
well as a U.S. Forest Service report regarding the two grazing 
allotments in the area (U.S. Forest Service 2009, pp. 1-3). Also, the 
petition cites the New Mexico Environment Department's (NMED) TMDL 
designation for the East Fork of the Gila River, which discusses 
grazing as a source of impairment for the river (NMED 2002, p. 8). 
Information in our files supports the petition's claims that habitat 
destruction and modification may impact the species.
    To support the petition's claim that recreation contributes to 
siltation in the East Fork of the Gila River, they cite several 
personal communications regarding the use of the Grapevine Campground, 
which is directly adjacent to the type locality of the Gila mayfly and 
where all but one specimen has been found. The petition states that 
recreation results in increased erosion and sedimentation from foot, 
bike, car, and off-highway vehicle traffic, as well as runoff of 
pollutants from roads and off-road vehicle trails, introduction of 
bacteria and excess nutrients from dog and horse waste, manipulation 
and alteration of streamflow by swimmers, and the trampling of 
streamside riparian habitat by campers, hikers, rafters, and fishermen. 
The petition suggests that siltation and other habitat impairments also 
create a barrier to Gila mayfly dispersal by limiting survival of 
nymphs that drift downstream.
    After reviewing the petition, information presented by the 
petitioner, and information readily available in our files, we have 
determined that there is substantial information to indicate the Gila 
mayfly may warrant listing as a

[[Page 43803]]

result of impaired water quality due to possible increased aluminum 
levels and siltation.
    Regarding factors B (overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes), C (disease or predation), and D 
(the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms), the petition did 
not provide any information that these factors may threaten the Gila 
mayfly. Regarding factor E (other natural or manmade factors affecting 
its continued existence), the petition suggests that climate change and 
the Gila mayfly's small population size threaten its continued 
existence. We will further evaluate these factors, along with any other 
potential factors, during our status review and will report our 
findings in the subsequent 12-month finding.

Finding

    Because habitat degradation, such as possible increased aluminum 
levels and documented substrate siltation and turbidity, may have 
occurred in the East Fork of the Gila River where the majority of 
individuals were once found, we find that the petition presents 
substantial information indicating that the petitioned action may be 
warranted. The petition states that aluminum is toxic to aquatic 
insects and cite several papers in support of this (Tabak and Gibbs 
1991, pp. 157-166; Regerand et al. 2005, pp. 192-198; Kegley et al. 
2009, p. 1). Also, the petition cites a report by Jacobi (2000), which 
states that silt constituted nearly 75 percent of the substrate in 
known Gila mayfly locations. Because the Gila mayfly uses crevices and 
other small spaces in the substrate, siltation may result in the 
filling in of these crevices and, therefore, result in less habitat 
availability. Additionally, information in the petition and readily 
available in our files indicates that the Gila mayfly has not been 
observed or collected in the last 50 years. Between 1987 and 1999, 12 
surveys were conducted at the known Gila mayfly locations, but no Gila 
mayflies were found despite targeted collection of mayflies. Given that 
the species has not been verified in the wild since 1967 despite 
multiple surveys, it is possible that the Gila mayfly may be extinct or 
that the survey efforts were not adequate enough to detect any 
remaining individuals. Hence, the information presented by the petition 
and readily available in our files contains evidence sufficient to 
suggest that these stresssors may be operative threats that act on the 
species to the point that the species may meet the definition of 
endangered or threatened under the Act. Therefore, on the basis of our 
determination under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we determine that 
the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information 
indicating that listing the Gila mayfly throughout its entire range may 
be warranted as a result of impaired water quality due to possible 
increased aluminum levels and siltation.
    This finding was made primarily based on information provided under 
factor A, and we will evaluate all information under the five factors 
during the status review under section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act. We will 
fully evaluate these potential threats during our status review, 
pursuant to the Act's requirement to review the best available 
scientific information when making our 12-month finding. Accordingly, 
we encourage the public to consider and submit information related to 
these and any other threats that may be operating on the Gila mayfly 
(see ``Request for Information'').

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the New Mexico 
Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office.

Authority

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

    Dated: July 16, 2012.
Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-18200 Filed 7-25-12; 8:45 am]
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