[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 191 (Tuesday, October 2, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 60237-60276]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-23843]



[[Page 60237]]

Vol. 77

Tuesday,

No. 191

October 2, 2012

Part IV





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; Removal of the Valley 
Elderberry Longhorn Beetle From the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 191 / Tuesday, October 2, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2011-0063; FXES11130900000C6-123-FF09E32000]
RIN 1018-AV29


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the 
Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle From the Federal List of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; 12-month petition finding.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
remove the valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus 
dimorphus) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. 
This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and 
commercial data, which indicates that the subspecies no longer meets 
the definition of endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This proposed rule, if made final, would 
remove the valley elderberry longhorn beetle as a threatened species 
from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, and would remove 
the designation of critical habitat for the subspecies. This document 
also constitutes our 12-month finding on a petition to delist the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle.

DATES: We will accept comments until December 3, 2012. We must receive 
requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by November 16, 2012.

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 field, enter FWS-R8-ES-2011-0063, 
which is the docket number for this rulemaking. On the search results 
page, under the Comment Period heading in the menu on the left side of 
your screen, check the box next to ``Open'' to locate this document. 
Please ensure you have found the correct document before submitting 
your comments. 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.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0063; 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 Public Comments below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Moore, Field Supervisor, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, 
Sacramento, CA 95825; telephone 916-414-6600; facsimile 916-414-6712. 
If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Executive Summary

    This document contains: (1) A 12-month finding in response to a 
petition to delist the valley elderberry longhorn beetle (beetle); and 
(2) a proposed rule to remove the valley elderberry longhorn beetle as 
a threatened species from the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, and to remove the designation of critical habitat.
    Species addressed. The valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
(Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), is found within the Central Valley 
of California. At listing, it was known from 10 occurrence records at 3 
locations: Merced County, Sacramento County, and Yolo County. 
Currently, it is known from 201 occurrence records at 26 locations, 
including much of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys from Shasta 
County in the northern Sacramento Valley to Kern County in the southern 
San Joaquin Valley. This subspecies is a wood borer that is dependent 
on its host plant, the elderberry (Sambucus species), which is a common 
shrub component of riparian forests and adjacent upland vegetation 
along river corridors of the Central Valley.
    Purpose of the Regulatory Action. Under the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act), we may be petitioned to list, delist, or 
reclassify a species. In 2010, we received a petition from the Pacific 
Legal Foundation requesting that the Service remove the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle, which is currently listed as a threatened 
species under the Act, from the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife. In 2011, we published our 90-day finding on the 
petition, which concluded that the petition contained substantial 
information that delisting the beetle may be warranted. Therefore, we 
also announced that we were initiating a status review for this 
subspecies as required under the Act. As the result of that status 
review, we find that delisting the valley elderberry longhorn beetle is 
warranted, and we propose to remove the beetle from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, and remove designated critical 
habitat.
    Basis for the Regulatory Action. Under the Act, a species may be 
determined to be endangered or threatened based on any of five factors: 
(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 reviewed all available scientific and commercial information 
pertaining to the five threat factors in our status review of the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle. The results of our status review are 
summarized below.
     While there are minimal surveys to comprehensively 
evaluate current presence or population trends over time, we believe 
the available data are sufficient to conclude that the beetle persists 
in several more locations that were not known at the time of listing 
under the Act, some of which are either restored or protected, or both. 
Records since listing show the beetle may currently occupy most of the 
26 locations identified and continues to persist in these locations, as 
is expected for some period of time into the future.
     Notwithstanding data uncertainties and the absence of 
protections or enhancements at many locations, we believe sufficient 
habitat will remain within this range into the foreseeable future, and 
the subspecies no longer meets the definition of endangered or 
threatened under the Act. Varying levels of protections have been 
applied to 15 of the 23 locations discovered since listing (10 
locations contain well-protected lands and portions of 5 other 
locations are managed for natural and open space values), and 
management is being applied to occupied and unoccupied sites within 
these locations

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(including habitat restoration to increase the amount of suitable 
habitat for potential use by the beetle). Additionally, we believe the 
beetle will continue to persist based on: (1) The increase in number of 
beetle occurrence records; (2) increase in number of locations where 
the beetle is found, including over a larger range than what was known 
at the time of listing; (3) past and ongoing riparian vegetation 
restoration; and (4) persistence of elderberry shrubs in restored 
areas, as well as on a variety of public lands managed for natural 
values as open space.

Public Comments

    We intend any final action resulting from this proposal to be based 
on the best scientific and commercial data available, and be as 
accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments 
or information from other governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or other interested parties concerning this 
proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Location-specific information concerning the cause and extent 
of past, recent, and projected future losses of total riparian 
vegetation and elderberry shrubs within the 26 individual river or 
watershed systems (referred to hereafter as locations) considered in 
this document to be, or to have previously been, occupied by the 
beetle, including the north Central Valley (Sacramento River; Thomes, 
Stony, Big Chico, Butte, Putah, and Cache Creeks; Feather, Yuba, Bear, 
and lower American Rivers; and the upper American River vicinity and 
the Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks vicinity) and the south Central Valley 
(Cosumnes River and vicinity, including Laguna and Dry Creek; Mokelumne 
River and vicinity, including Bear River; the lower Stanislaus River; 
upper Stanislaus hills vicinity, including the foothill systems between 
and around New Melones and Don Pedro Reservoirs; the Calaveras, 
Tuolumne, Merced, Kings, Kaweah, Tule, Kern, and San Joaquin Rivers; 
and Caliente Creek).
    (2) Location-specific information (including Geographic Information 
System (GIS) data or tabular geographic coordinate data) on the range, 
distribution, population size, or population trends of the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle, with particular emphasis on data collected 
since, or not included in, our 2006 5-year review.
    (3) Location-specific information on protections in each of the 
above-mentioned locations (river systems or watersheds) with emphasis 
on discerning the geographic locations and extent of protected and 
unprotected areas, including, but not limited to: vegetative 
allowances, vegetative maintenance, monitoring programs with adaptive 
management actions, conservation easements, public land ownership and 
associated permanent protections, and any other form of location-
specific protection.
    (4) Location-specific information regarding male specimen 
observation and subspecies identification, with particular interest in 
recently reported locations in the eastern portion of the range in 
foothill elevations.
    (5) Location-specific information on future anticipated level of 
threat of additional habitat loss, and the source of such loss (such as 
agricultural and urban development, or flood control). Where threats 
are not yet elevated in the absence of formal protection, we seek 
information on rationales for why threats may or may not be elevated in 
the future. We also seek information on future reduction in threats of 
habitat loss, where appropriate.
    (6) Information, including geographic coordinates of the locations, 
about any additional populations of the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle in other locations not considered in this proposed rule, or 
regarding the loss of previously existing populations.
    (7) Information on all other threats, such as from scientific study 
of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, inferred from study of a 
similar species, or location-specific threats information, including 
potential impacts from predators such as the Argentine ant, effects of 
small population size, and pesticides.
    (8) New information and data on the projected and reasonably likely 
impacts to valley elderberry longhorn beetle associated with climate 
change.
    (9) Documentation of the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of current 
mitigation, habitat restoration, and other conservation measures, 
particularly those mentioned in Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 46-48, tables 
2.3.1.1-2.3.1.2 (available at http://www.regulations.gov and http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es/documents/VELB_5yr_review_Talley_etal.pdf); and, specifically, location-specific quantities of riparian 
vegetation (length, area, and proportion of the overall location 
conserved or restored), beetle habitat (elderberry shrubs) in 
particular, and occupancy of that habitat by the subspecies.
    (10) Information on the spatial extent of occupation within 
locations at which the beetle has been observed in relation to habitat 
and threats within these areas.
    (11) Location-specific information on the present quantity of 
riparian vegetation, elderberry within riparian vegetation, and 
elderberry within the watershed or vicinity, but not associated with 
riparian vegetation.
    (12) Information regarding how best to conduct post-delisting 
monitoring, should the proposed delisting lead to a final delisting 
rule (see Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan Overview section below, which 
briefly outlines the goals of the draft plan that is available for 
public comment concurrent with publication of this proposed rule). Such 
information might include suggestions regarding the draft objectives, 
monitoring procedures for establishing population and habitat 
baselines, or for detecting variations from those baselines over the 
course of at least 10 years.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule (and associated draft post-delisting monitoring (PDM) plan) by one 
of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We will not accept comments sent by 
email or fax or to an address not listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit a 
comment via http://www.regulations.gov, we will post your entire 
comment--including your personal identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. If your written comments provide personal 
identifying information, you may request at the top of your document 
that we withhold this information from public review. However, we 
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all 
hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov. Please include 
sufficient information with your comment to allow us to verify any 
scientific or commercial data you submit.
    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).

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. We must receive your request within 45 
days after the date of this Federal Register publication. Send your 
request to the address shown in 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

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well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal 
Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the hearing.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (50 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding this proposed rule and the draft PDM plan. The purpose of 
peer review is to ensure that decisions are based on scientifically 
sound data, assumptions, and analyses. A peer review panel will conduct 
an assessment of the proposed rule and draft PDM plan, and the specific 
assumptions and conclusions regarding the proposed delisting. This 
assessment will be completed during the public comment period.
    We will consider all comments and information we receive during the 
comment period on this proposed rule as we prepare the final 
determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this 
proposal.

Background

Previous Federal Actions

    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle was proposed as a threatened 
species with critical habitat on August 10, 1978 (43 FR 35636). A rule 
re-proposing critical habitat was issued on May 2, 1980 (45 FR 29373), 
to comply with amendments made to the Act. A final rule listing the 
beetle as threatened and designating critical habitat was published in 
the Federal Register on August 8, 1980 (45 FR 52803). A final Recovery 
Plan was approved for the beetle on June 28, 1984 (Service 1984, pp. 1-
62). On July 7, 2005, we announced in the Federal Register that we were 
initiating 5-year reviews for 31 listed species, including the beetle 
(70 FR 39327). Information from the public was accepted until September 
6, 2005. On November 3, 2005, we announced in the Federal Register an 
extension of the period for submitting information to be considered in 
the 5-year review to January 3, 2006 (70 FR 66842). The Service 
completed a 5-year review on September 26, 2006, that recommended the 
Service delist the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. The 5-year review 
is available to the public on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/cno/es/VELB%205-year%20review.FINAL.pdf.
Petition History
    On September 13, 2010, we received a petition dated September 9, 
2010, from the Pacific Legal Foundation, as representative for 
Reclamation District Number 108, et al., requesting that the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle be removed from the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Act. The petition clearly 
identified itself as such, and included the requisite identification 
information for the petitioners, as required by 50 CFR 424.14(a). The 
petition included the Service's 5-year review as supporting information 
(Service 2006a). On August 19, 2011, we published a 90-day finding in 
response to the Pacific Legal Foundation's petition stating that the 
petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information 
indicating that delisting the valley elderberry longhorn beetle may be 
warranted (76 FR 51929). This proposed rule also constitutes our 12-
month finding for the petition to delist the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle. As the result of our status review, we find that delisting the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle is warranted, and we propose to 
remove the beetle from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, 
and remove designated critical habitat.

Species Information

Description and Basic Biology
    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle (beetle) (Desmocerus 
californicus dimorphus) is a medium-sized red and dark green (to red 
and black) insect approximately 0.8 inch (in) (2 centimeters (cm)) 
long. It is endemic to the Central Valley of California (Fisher 1921, 
p. 207; Doane et al. 1936, p. 178; Linsley and Chemsak 1972, p. 7). The 
similar-looking California elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus 
californicus californicus) is primarily known from coastal regions of 
California (Collinge et al. 2001, p. 104). The two subspecies can be 
identified with certainty only by adult male coloration, where males of 
the listed subspecies have predominantly red elytra with four dark 
spots, whereas males of the common, unlisted subspecies (California 
elderberry longhorn beetle) have dark metallic green to black elytra 
with a red border. The ranges of the two subspecies may abut or overlap 
along the foothills of the eastern Coast Range and the southern San 
Joaquin Valley; dark males have also been noted in Placer and Yolo 
Counties (Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 5-6). Beetles meeting the 
description of the California elderberry longhorn beetle have also been 
recorded in the Sierra Nevada foothills as far north as Mariposa County 
(Halstead and Oldham 2000, pp. 74-75), suggesting that the ranges of 
the two subspecies may also abut or overlap in that area.
    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle is a wood borer, dependent on 
(and found only in association with) its host plant, the elderberry 
(Sambucus spp. of the Caprifoliaceae [honeysuckle] family) (Barr 1991, 
p. 4; Collinge et al. 2001, p. 104). The elderberry is a common shrub 
component of riparian forests and adjacent upland vegetation along 
river corridors of the Central Valley (Hickman 1993, pp. 474-475; 
Sawyer and Keeler-Wolf 1995, pp. 171, 229; Halstead and Oldham 2000, p. 
74). Adult beetles feed on elderberry nectar, flowers, and foliage, and 
are generally active from March through June (Eng 1984, p. 916; Barr 
1991, p. 4; Collinge et al. 2001, p. 105). They are uncommon (see 
``Occurrence Information and Population Size and Distribution'' below) 
and rarely observed, despite their relatively large size and 
conspicuous coloration.
    The females lay eggs, singly or in small groups, on the leaves or 
stems of living elderberry shrubs (Barr 1991, p. 4). The larvae hatch 
in a few days, and bore into living stems that are at least 1 in. (2.5 
cm) in diameter. The larvae remain within the elderberry stem, feeding 
on the pith (dead woody material) until they complete their 
development. Each larva creates its own gallery (set of tunnels) within 
the stem by feeding (Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 8-9). The larva 
eventually cuts an exit hole out of the stem, but plugs the hole up 
again from within using wood shavings. This allows the beetle to 
eventually exit the stem after it becomes an adult, as the adults are 
not wood borers. The larva remains within the stem, becomes a pupa, and 
finally emerges from its single exit hole as an adult between mid-March 
and mid-June (Lang et al. 1989, p. 242; Barr 1991, p. 5; Talley et al. 
2006a, p. 9). There is thus one exit hole per larva. The complete life 
cycle is thought to take either 1 or 2 years (depending on the amount 
of time the larva stays in the elderberry stem), with adults always 
emerging in the spring. Adults live from a few days to a few weeks 
after emerging, during which time they mate and lay their eggs (Talley 
et al. 2006a, p. 7). Shrub characteristics and other environmental 
factors appear to have an influence on use by the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle in some recent studies, with more exit holes in shrubs 
in riparian, than nonriparian, scrub habitat types (Talley et. al. 
2006a, p. 18), and increased beetle colonization of larger shrubs (and 
greater beetle extinction from smaller shrubs) (Zisook 2007, p. 1).

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Lost Historical Range
    Although there are insufficient valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
records to directly assess changes in distribution from historical 
times to the present, it is probable that beetle habitat distribution 
was coarsely related to the extent of riparian forests of which the 
host plant, elderberry, is often a component. However, we note that 
elderberry does not occur in all areas where riparian vegetation 
exists. Thus, we are unable to provide an accurate assessment of 
potential lost historical range of valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
habitat; rather, estimates are based on historical losses of riparian 
vegetation.
    Historically, California's Central Valley riparian forests have 
experienced extensive vegetation loss during the last 150 years due to 
expansive agricultural and urban development (Katibah 1984, p. 23). 
These Central Valley riparian forests include those along the 
Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys that comprise the north and south 
range, respectively, of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, as 
discussed in detail below in ``Occurrence Information and Population 
Size and Distribution.'' Since colonization, these forests have been 
``* * * modified with a rapidity and completeness matched in few parts 
of the United States'' (Thompson 1961, p. 294). As of 1849, the rivers 
and larger streams of the Central Valley were largely undisturbed 
(Thompson 1961, p. 305), supporting continuous bands of riparian 
woodland 4 to 5 mi (6.4 to 8 km) wide along some major drainages such 
as the lower Sacramento River, and generally about 2 mi (3.2 km) wide 
along the lesser streams (Thompson 1961, p. 307). Most of the riverine 
floodplains supported riparian vegetation to about the 100-year flood 
line (Katibah 1984, p. 25). A large human population influx occurred 
after 1849; however, much of the Central Valley riparian vegetation was 
rapidly converted to agriculture and used as a source of wood for fuel 
and construction to serve a wide area (Thompson 1961, p. 311). By as 
early as 1868, riparian woodland had been severely affected in the 
Central Valley, as evidenced by the following excerpt:

    This fine growth of timber which once graced our river 
[Sacramento], tempered the atmosphere, and gave protection to the 
adjoining plains from the sweeping winds, has entirely disappeared--
the woodchopper's axe has stripped the river farms of nearly all the 
hard wood timber, and the owners are now obliged to rely upon the 
growth of willows for firewood. (Cronise 1868 in Thompson 1961, p. 
312).

    Based on the historical riparian woodlands information summarized 
in the paragraph above, we conservatively estimate that over 90 percent 
of that riparian vegetation in the Central Valley has been converted to 
agriculture or urban development since the middle of the 1800s 
(Thompson 1961, pp. 310-311; Katibah et al. 1984, p. 314). We also note 
that estimates of historical riparian vegetation loss in the Central 
Valley and acreage of current riparian vegetation vary. Based on a 
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) riparian vegetation 
distribution map, about 102,000 ac (41,278 ha) out of an estimated 
922,000 ac (373,120 ha) of Central Valley riparian forest remained at 
the turn of the century (Katibah 1984, p. 28). This represents a 
decline in acreage of approximately 89 percent as of 1979 (Katibah 
1984, p. 28). Another source indicates that 132,586 ac (53,656 ha) of 
riparian vegetation remained across the Central Valley in 2003 
(Geographic Information Center 2003, p. 14), which represents a 50 
percent decline since 1960. More extreme figures are provided by Frayer 
et al. (1989, pp. ii), who reported that approximately 85 percent of 
all wetland acreage in the Central Valley was lost before 1939; and 
that from 1939 to the mid-1980s, the acreage of wetlands dominated by 
forests and other woody vegetation declined from 65,400 ac (26,466 ha) 
to 34,600 ac (14,002 ha). Differences in methodology may explain the 
differences between these estimates. In any case, the historical loss 
of riparian vegetation in the Central Valley strongly suggests that the 
range of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle has been reduced 
(because elderberry is a component of riparian vegetation), and its 
distribution has been fragmented.
    For the purposes of this analysis, we are utilizing what we believe 
is a reliable estimate for remaining riparian vegetation within the 
Central Valley (i.e., 132,586 ac (53,656 ha) as reported by Geographic 
Information Center (2003)); this value will be used as a reference 
point when discussing impacts to remaining riparian vegetation in this 
document. The causes of this lost historical riparian vegetation are 
described in the following paragraphs as background information for 
this discussion on valley elderberry longhorn beetle's lost historical 
range. Causes of ongoing and future loss of riparian vegetation within 
the range of the beetle are discussed below in Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species.
    The historical clearing of riparian forests for fuel and 
construction in the Central Valley made this land available for 
agriculture (Thompson 1961, p. 313). Natural levees bordering the 
rivers, which once supported vast tracts of riparian vegetation, became 
prime agricultural land (Thompson 1961, p. 313). As agriculture 
expanded in the Central Valley, needs for increased water supply and 
flood protection spurred water development and reclamation projects. 
Artificial levees, river channelization, dam building, water diversion, 
and heavy groundwater pumping have further reduced riparian vegetation 
to small, isolated fragments (Katibah 1984, p. 28). In recent decades, 
these riparian areas in the Central Valley have continued to decline as 
a result of ongoing agricultural conversion, urban development, and 
stream channelization. As of 1989, there were more than 100 dams within 
the Central Valley drainage basin, as well as thousands of miles of 
water delivery canals and stream bank flood control projects for 
irrigation, municipal and industrial water supplies, hydroelectric 
power, flood control, navigation, and recreation (Frayer et al. 1989, 
p. 5). Riparian forests in the Central Valley have dwindled to 
discontinuous strips of widths measurable in yards rather than miles.
    Between 1980 and 1995, the human population in the Central Valley 
grew by 50 percent, while the rest of California grew by 37 percent 
(American Farmland Trust 2011). The Central Valley's population was 4.7 
million in 1999, and it is expected to more than double by 2040 
(American Farmland Trust 2011). The American Farmland Trust estimates 
that by 2040, more than one million cultivated acres will be lost and 
2.5 million more put at risk (American Farmland Trust 2011). With this 
growing population in the Central Valley, increased development 
pressure could affect native vegetation communities.
    A number of studies have focused on riparian vegetation loss along 
the Sacramento River, which supports some of the densest known 
populations of the beetle. Approximately 98 percent of the middle 
Sacramento River's historical riparian vegetation was believed to have 
been extirpated by 1977 (DWR 1979, entire). The State Department of 
Water Resources estimated that native riparian vegetation along the 
Sacramento River from Redding to Colusa decreased 34 percent from 
27,720 ac (11,218 ha) to 18,360 ac (7,430 ha) between 1952 and 1972 
(Conard et al. 1977, p. 47). The average rate of riparian loss on the 
middle Sacramento River was 430 ac (174 ha) per year from 1952 to 1972, 
and 410 ac (166 ha) per year from 1972 to 1977 (Conard et al. 1977, p. 
47).

[[Page 60242]]

    There is no comparable information on the historical loss of beetle 
habitat (i.e., the component of riparian vegetation that contains 
elderberry, which includes elderberry savanna and other vegetation 
communities where elderberry occurs, such as oak or mix-chaparral 
woodland, or grasslands adjacent to riparian vegetation). However, all 
natural habitats throughout the Central Valley have been heavily 
impacted within the last 200 years (Thompson 1961, pp. 294-295), and it 
can, therefore, be concluded that beetle habitat also has declined. 
Accordingly, loss of beetle habitat (also described in literature as 
nonriparian vegetation where elderberry occurs), and of specific areas 
where the beetle has been recorded (Barr 1991, entire), further 
suggests reduction of the beetle's range and increased fragmentation of 
its upland habitat.
    We cannot conclude that the losses of riparian and aquatic 
vegetation described in this section are representative of the lost 
historical habitat for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, because 
we have no way of knowing which of these lost areas were actually 
historically occupied by the beetle.
Occurrence Information and Distribution
    Historically and currently, the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
is rarely observed (although we expect infrequent observations because 
there is infrequent survey data). For example, survey efforts conducted 
by Barr (1991, pp. 45-46), Collinge et al. (2001, p. 107), and Talley 
et al. (2006a, p. 11) have documented very few adult valley elderberry 
longhorn beetles. Consequently, the past and current presence of 
beetles in a given area is usually established based on the presence of 
recent or old exit holes in elderberry stems (Jones & Stokes 1987, p. 
2; Barr 1991, p. 12). Recent exit holes (made within the current year) 
are typically distinguishable from holes made in previous years by the 
presence of wood shavings and light-colored wood within the hole. Thus, 
trained surveyors are generally able to distinguish current beetle 
presence from presence of the beetle in previous years (Collinge et al. 
2001, p. 105). Trained surveyors are also typically able to distinguish 
between exit holes made by the beetle and exit holes made by other 
species of wood borers (Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 9-10; River Partners 
2007, p. 7). However, exit holes made by the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle are not distinguishable from exit holes made by the California 
elderberry longhorn beetle, except by inference, based on where the 
observation occurred within the range of either beetle (River Partners 
2007, p. 9).
    When the valley elderberry longhorn beetle was listed in 1980, it 
was known from 10 occurrence records at three locations: the Merced 
River (Merced County), the American River (Sacramento County), and 
Putah Creek (Yolo County) (45 FR 52805, August 8, 1980; Service 2006a, 
p. 5; Talley et al. 2006a, p. 23). Subsequent survey efforts have 
expanded our knowledge of the beetle's range to include much of the San 
Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, from Shasta County in the northern 
Sacramento Valley to Kern County in the southern San Joaquin Valley, 
California. Currently, 201 beetle occurrence records are identified in 
the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB), in addition to some 
other records not yet reported to CNDDB (CNDDB 2010, pp. 1-202; Table 
1). The CNDDB is an electronic inventory of observation records for 
California's rare plants, animals, and communities, managed by CDFG 
(CDFG 2009, p. 1).
    In Table 1, we present information for 201 occurrence records 
representing 26 locations that we believe represent the best available 
data regarding the distribution of this subspecies. These selected 
records include all of the major riparian systems within the Central 
Valley proper and a few foothill systems immediately above major 
reservoirs. We do not include 12 occurrence records from other riparian 
systems (i.e., they are not included in Table 1 nor are they discussed 
further in this rule), because we do not regard them as verified for 
various reasons, including that they: Are isolated records that contain 
extremely limited habitat; occur exclusively at higher elevations 
adjacent to the range of the California elderberry longhorn beetle 
(Oakhurst vicinity, Auberry vicinity, North Fork Willow Creek, Mariposa 
Creek, Los Banos Creek, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, North 
Fork Feather River); are extirpated (Middle River); represent a single 
shrub in rural development (Dixon); contain records from dead wood or 
old exit holes only (Honcutt Creek, Paynes Creek); or occur in a 
location within heavily maintained channels (Chowchilla). Additionally, 
there are also locations (Deer Creek, Battle Creek) that are 
represented by a single non-CNDDB report, and are not discussed.

   Table 1--Locations and Occurrence Records of the Valley Elderberry
 Longhorn Beetle in the North and South Central Valley of California \1\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Number of
  Locations (north to south) \2\      occurrence    Years of occurrences
                                      records \3\            \4\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.a. Sacramento River (SR),                     10  87, 89, 91, 03A,
 Redding-Red Bluff.                                  08A.
1.b. SR, Red Bluff-Chico..........           13(3)  85, 86, 87, 91,
                                                     (00A), 01A, (03),
                                                     (10).
1.c. SR, Chico-Colusa.............           18(1)  86, 87, 88, (03),
                                                     06.
1.d. SR, Colusa-American River                   7  85A.
 confluence.
1.e. SR, American River confluence            2(1)  05A, 06A, (08).
 south.
2. Thomes Creek...................               1  91, absent 97.
3. Stony Creek....................               1  91, absent 97.
4. Big Chico Creek................            2(1)  91, 97, (10).
5. Feather River..................            6(1)  85, 91, (07), 10A.
6. Butte Creek....................               4  93, absent 91, 95,
                                                     absent 97.
7. Yuba River.....................               7  98.
8. Bear River.....................            4(2)  91, 98, 03, (04A,
                                                     10A).
9. Lower American River...........           11(4)  84A, 85A, 90A, 95A,
                                                     96, 00, 08A, (02,
                                                     03, 04,10).
10. Upper American River vicinity                8  84, 91, 02, 10.
 (Miner and Secret Ravine, Coon,
 Anderson and Linda Creeks)
 (foothill location >1,000 ft
 elevation).
11. Putah Creek...................            4(2)  82A, 91A, 95, 00A,
                                                     (04, 10).
12. Cache Creek...................               7  91, 01A, 07A.

[[Page 60243]]

 
13. Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks....               6  91, 02, 04, (08).
14. Cosumnes-Laguna-Dry Creeks....            7(3)  64A, 84, 87, 91,
                                                     (02, 03, 04).
15. Mokelumne-Bear Rivers.........               6  84, 91A, 06.
16. Stanislaus River..............            4(1)  84A, 85, 89, 91,
                                                     (10).
17. Upper Stanislaus hills                       6  99, 00, 02A, 07A.
 (vicinity above and between New
 Melones and Don Pedro Reservoirs,
 including Sullivan Creek)
 (foothill location >1,000 ft
 elevation).
18. Calaveras River-Stockton                     5  84A, 91, 00.
 Diverting Canal.
19. Tuolumne River................               4  84, 91, 99.
20. Merced River..................            3(1)  85, 86, 90A, absent
                                                     91, (10).
21. Kings River...................              18  89A, 90A, 91, 94,
                                                     98A, absent 10.
22. Kaweah River..................               5  37, 86A, 91, 94.
23. Tule River-Deer Creek.........            5(1)  91A, 93, (10).
24. Kern River (excluding Caliente            1(2)  91, (08, 10).
 Creek).
25. Caliente Creek (foothill                     3  91.
 location >1,000 ft elevation).
26. San Joaquin River.............            3(1)  84, 89, 92, 04
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Non-CNDDB source information includes survey from review of a
  section 7 consultation, literature sources such as Holyoak and Graves
  2010, River Partners 2007, Collinge et al. 2001, and Talley 2005, and
  other verified sources (such as information from scientific experts or
  Service biologists who have evaluated data for accuracy) compiled in a
  GIS database by the Service's Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office.
\2\ The locations presented in this table are based on available data
  that provide detailed information about valley elderberry longhorn
  beetle presence. Additional locations were not included in this table
  due to a lack of sufficient information that provides certainty on
  valley elderberry longhorn beetle presence (see preceding text for
  explanation).
\3\ Occurrence records are a combination of CNDDB source data and non-
  CNDDB source data, the latter of which is presented as a value between
  parentheses. For example, the Big Chico Creek location has a total of
  three occurrence records, including two from CNDDB source data and one
  from non-CNDDB source data.
\4\ Data provided in this column show: (1) Years when surveys were
  conducted and beetles were found (e.g., ``99'' indicates that beetle
  evidence was observed in the year 1999, or ``90A'' indicates adult
  beetles were observed in 1990), and (2) years when surveys were
  conducted and beetles or evidence of beetles were not found (e.g.,
  ``absent 91'' indicates that a survey was conducted in 1991 but no
  beetles or evidence of beetles were observed). Additionally, there
  could be existing known locations, or new locations (in addition to
  the 26 locations listed in this table) where valley elderberry
  longhorn beetles occur today, but it is uncertain because we know of
  no recent surveys that have been conducted.

    An occurrence (or ``element occurrence'') is a term used in the 
CNDDB to refer to an observation at a location where a species has been 
documented to occur, such as a sighting of a valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle, or of an exit hole (recent or otherwise), that indicates 
possible presence of the subspecies. CNDDB data do not represent the 
results of a systematic survey, but rather reflect a compilation of 
observations from multiple contributors and studies over time. 
Depending on information provided by contributors, many beetle 
occurrence records are merely points on the map, whereas others include 
information regarding the size of the occupied area. Beetle occurrences 
are distributed across the Central Valley, generally occurring singly 
and in small, relatively isolated clusters along river corridors. 
Noticeably larger clusters of beetle records occur along the northern 
portions of the Sacramento River (around Tehama, Glenn, and Butte 
Counties), along the lower American River (primarily in Sacramento 
County), and along the Kings River (in Fresno County). One hundred and 
twenty-five beetle occurrences have been recorded in the northern 
portion of the Central Valley (north of the line formed by the southern 
boundaries of Sacramento and Amador Counties), as compared with 76 
south of that line. CNDDB presumes all 201 occurrences in the Central 
Valley are currently extant (CDFG 2007, p. 4). Based on this 
information, we understand these occurrences to be currently extant.
    This rule uses the term ``occurrence'' to refer to the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle observations reported in CNDDB records. We 
use the terms ``site'' and ``survey site'' to refer to a specific local 
area that is surveyed for evidence of beetle presence (Barr 1991, pp. 
9, 19; Collinge et al. 2001, p. 105). We use the term ``location'' to 
refer to the river system, major river reach, or watershed vicinity in 
which several records in general proximity to one another may occur.
    The number and area of occurrences do not necessarily indicate the 
number and size of interbreeding populations (defined as groups of 
interbreeding valley elderberry longhorn beetles). This is because 
CNDDB generally groups sightings of beetles or exit holes within 0.25 
mi (0.4 km) of each other into the same occurrence (CDFG 2009, pp. 2-
3). In addition, while beetle movement is restricted, dispersal is 
believed to occur over a scale of around 12 mi (20 km), and 
metapopulations (a set of partially isolated subpopulations between 
which dispersal is limited) form at a scale of 25 mi (40 km) or less, 
within which there can be many occurrences (Collinge et al., 2001, p. 
108; Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 10-11). Beetles may, or may not, persist 
in any given elderberry shrub within an occurrence, or may inhabit more 
or fewer elderberry shrubs over time, but there is rarely documentation 
of these temporal changes to an occurrence. Although CNDDB presumes all 
occurrences in the Central Valley are extant, CNDDB generally does not 
identify an occurrence as extirpated, or possibly extirpated, unless it 
receives positive information (such as complete loss of habitat) to 
indicate the population is no longer at the site (CDFG 2007, p. 4). 
Occurrence records are thus primarily useful for demonstrating the 
extent of a species' range, and the general distribution within that 
range, as well as for noting information such as the date the species 
was last seen at a given location.
    The infrequency of sampling data, and particularly the lack of 
recent sampling, makes it difficult to precisely determine population 
size and distribution of this subspecies. Dates last seen range from 
1937 to 2008, with the vast majority occurring in the late 1980s and 
early 1990s (Service 2007, p. 11). For most of these sites, the date 
the subspecies was last seen and the date

[[Page 60244]]

the site was last visited are the same, possibly because of the 
infrequency with which sites are resurveyed. Only 26 of the CNDDB 
occurrence records are from 2000 or later. Regardless, data collected 
have shown a larger distributional range and a greater number of known 
occurrences when compared to the time of listing. We considered all 
information in the CNDDB and other sources not yet reported to the 
CNDDB to evaluate the subspecies' range and occurrences.
    Although the majority of valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
occurrence records are those recorded in CNDDB, other occurrence 
records (not necessarily reported to the CNDDB) originate from projects 
reviewed under section 7 or section 10 of the Act, monitoring of 
elderberry plantings, and a few location-specific surveys (see below, 
this section). There are not a large number of records from any of 
these other sources. The most extensive of these other records are from 
National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) units along the Sacramento River north 
of Colusa. For example, in 2003, while monitoring elderberry shrubs 
planted at five Sacramento River NWR units, surveyors found 449 beetle 
exit holes in 299 (3.8 percent) of the 7,793 shrubs surveyed (River 
Partners 2004a, pp. 2-3; Talley et al. 2006a, p. 51), which were 
represented across all 5 refuge units surveyed. A greater percentage of 
beetle exit holes were found at sites with older elderberry plantings 
or near existing riparian vegetation (River Partners 2004a, pp. 4-5). 
Another example of beetle information beyond CNDDB records includes 
section 7 consultations. A total of 500 section 7 consultations dating 
since 2000 have been conducted because project sites contained riparian 
vegetation that may support the beetle (and potentially beetle 
habitat); 13 were reported to contain exit holes. Only 1 of these 13 
observations was in the south Central Valley (Kern River). Outside of 
CNDDB, adult beetles have been observed six times at monitoring, 
restoration, or mitigation sites in the north Central Valley (Feather, 
Bear, and Sacramento River areas).
    Within the range of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, local 
beetle populations tend to be sporadic, small, and clustered, 
independent of the availability of larger areas of mature elderberry. 
For example, a study conducted in 1985-1987 focused on areas of native 
riparian vegetation along 183 mi (295 km) of the Sacramento River 
floodplain north of Sacramento. Researchers found that 95 percent of 
surveyed sites contained elderberries, while exit holes (old and 
recent) occurred in 64 percent of surveyed sites (Lang et al. 1989, pp. 
243, 246). Lang et al. (1989, pp. 243-245) also found that habitat 
occupancy was substantially higher at the northern end of the study 
area, which is consistent with the pattern of distribution in the 
occurrence records. In the 48 river miles north of Chico Landing, 94 
percent of study sites were occupied, while occupancy declined to 28 
percent for the 85-mi (137-km) reach between Colusa and Sacramento. The 
authors noted that this pattern reflected the fact that riparian 
vegetation below Colusa was confined by levees to narrow strips, 
whereas between Colusa and Chico Landing setback levees allowed wider 
areas of riparian vegetation, and above Chico Landing habitat was 
unconstrained by levees.
    Barr (1991) conducted an extensive study of riparian vegetation in 
1991 along major rivers and streams in both the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin Valleys, and the adjacent foothills. Barr (1991, pp. 15, 42) 
found evidence of valley elderberry longhorn beetle occupancy (recent 
and old exit holes) in 28 percent of surveyed sites (64 of 230 sites), 
and in about 20 percent of the 504 groups of elderberry shrubs examined 
at those sites (each site had one to several shrub groups). The author 
noted general observations (such as rarity of the beetle and clustered 
nature of occurrences (Barr 1991, p. 49)), and specific results that 
include recent exit holes occurring at only 14 percent of sites 
surveyed (33 of 230 sites). In 1997, Collinge et al. (2001, p. 105) 
resurveyed 65 of the 79 sites that Barr (1991) had surveyed (25 of 
which showed evidence of occupancy) in the Sacramento Valley portion of 
the 1991 study. Collinge et al. (2001, p. 105) found that 20 percent of 
surveyed sites (13 of 65 sites) had recent exit holes, while 46 percent 
(30 of 65 sites) had either recent or old holes (Collinge et al. 2001, 
p. 107). The repetition of the earlier study further supported the 
relatively rare and clustered nature of beetle presence. Because the 
two surveys were completed using the same methods, the study also 
allowed a limited assessment of temporal changes in beetle presence or 
absence (Collinge et al. 2001, p. 105), which is further discussed 
below under the ``Population Status and Trends'' section.
    Evaluating available data on old and recent valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle exit holes to aid in the determination of current 
occupancy of locations and current distribution across the subspecies' 
range has proven difficult. For example, in the San Joaquin Valley 
surveyors for two recent studies along the Stanislaus and San Joaquin 
Rivers found relatively recent beetle exit holes at six sites (Kucera 
et al. 2006, pp. 7-10, 12; River Partners 2007, pp. 9-11). 
Unfortunately, the two studies did not define ``recent'' the same way. 
One study (River Partners 2007, p. 8) included ``old'' recent holes 
with worn margins, while the other (Kucera et al. 2006, p. 4) followed 
the sampling methodology of Talley (2005, p. 14), which identifies 
``recent'' holes as having crisp margins and minimal evidence of 
healing.
    Beetle occupancy appears to be lower in the south Central Valley as 
compared to the north Central Valley. In the south Central Valley, 
Kucera et al. (2006, pp. 4-9) surveyed approximately 153 mi (246 km) of 
the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the confluence with the Merced 
River, and found 1 shrub with 6 recent exit holes and 16 shrubs with a 
total of 122 nonrecent holes. The recent holes, and all but three of 
the nonrecent holes, were located within 22 mi (35 km) of Friant dam 
(Kucera et al. 2006, pp. 8-9). Also in the south Central Valley, River 
Partners (2007, p. 1) surveyed 59 mi (95 km) of the Stanislaus River 
from Goodwin Dam to the confluence with the San Joaquin River, as well 
as 12 mi (19 km) of the San Joaquin River from the confluence with the 
Stanislaus River up to the confluence with the Tuolumne River. River 
Partners (2007, pp. 10, 26, 28, 38, 40, 42, 49) found one site with 
recent exit holes, four sites with both recent and nonrecent holes, and 
one site with nonrecent holes. However, two of the five sites with 
recent exit holes were high enough in elevation in the Sierra foothills 
that the surveyors considered it possible that the exit holes had been 
made by either valley elderberry longhorn beetles or California 
elderberry longhorn beetles (River Partners 2007, pp. 9, 26, 28). 
Numbers of recent exit holes at each site in the two studies ranged 
from 0 to 6 (Kucera et al. 2006, pp. 4, 8, 9) and 0 to 44 (River 
Partners 2007, pp. 10, 26, 28, 38, 40-43), showing the difficulty of 
comparing results across nonstandardized surveys.
    In summary, multiple factors limit our ability to draw direct 
comparisons between all studies and over time, but, taken together, 
these studies consistently indicate a patchy distribution of the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle throughout its range. As discussed above, 
the earliest study (Lang et al. 1989, pp. 242, 246) did not distinguish 
between old and new exit holes in determining that a site was actively 
occupied by beetles, while most of the later studies relied on the

[[Page 60245]]

presence of recent holes in determining occupancy of extant populations 
(Barr 1991, pp. 46, 47; Collinge et al. 2001, p. 107; Kucera et al. 
2006, pp. 7-11; River Partners 2007, pp. 8, 11, 16). Additionally, 
survey timing varied between studies and often overlapped the beetle's 
emergence period. Despite these differences in survey methodology, 
species experts have determined that the beetle is patchily distributed 
throughout its range, even where suitable habitat is present (Barr 
1991, p. 49; Collinge et al. 2001, p. 107; River Partners 2007, p. 23). 
The beetle occurs in clusters (Barr 1991, p. 49), with small 
populations everywhere that it occurs (Collinge et al. 2001, p. 107). 
Most occupied sites are located in the northern portion of the range 
along the Sacramento River (Collinge et al. 2001, p. 111). Site 
occupancy by the beetle appears to be higher in the northern Central 
Valley and lower in the south Central Valley (Kucera et al. 2006, pp. 
ii, 10). The reasons for patchy beetle distribution patterns and the 
low occupancy in the south Central Valley generally remain unclear, but 
appear to go beyond what may be explained by the simple presence or 
absence of elderberry shrubs. Thus, population characteristics such as 
patchy distribution and low occupancy in the south Central Valley, 
coupled with the infrequency of sampling data and, particularly, the 
lack of recent sampling, make it difficult to precisely determine 
population size and distribution of this subspecies.
Population Status and Trends
    There are no long-term population data available for the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle; rather, the only available data are the 
CNDDB occurrence records and limited records from other sources (Table 
1). The Collinge et al. (2001) study attempted to provide information 
relevant to population trends by surveying and comparing the same sites 
within the Sacramento Valley as had been surveyed 6 years earlier by 
Barr (1991), using the same survey methods. They found fewer occupied 
groups of elderberry shrubs at each site (on average) because the 
average density of elderberry shrubs had decreased (Collinge et al. 
2001, pp. 108, 109; Talley et al. 2006a, p. 13). The authors did not 
offer reasons for the observed decrease of elderberry bush density.
    For comparisons regarding valley elderberry longhorn beetle site 
occupancy, Collinge et al. (2001, pp. 106-107) identified four types of 
changes evident from comparison of the 1991 and 1997 surveys: short-
term extinctions (recent exit holes in 1991, no recent exit holes in 
1997), short-term colonizations (no recent holes in 1991, recent holes 
in 1997), long-term extinctions (holes of any age in 1991, no holes in 
1997), and long-term colonizations (no holes in 1991, holes of any age 
in 1997). Collinge et al. (2001, pp. 106-107) related findings on both 
short- and long-term changes because they felt that the long-term 
values tended to underestimate actual numbers of extinctions and 
colonizations, whereas the short-term values tended to overestimate 
them. For instance, they noted that a local extinction would not 
register as a long-term extinction if old holes remained in the area. 
Similarly, because the beetle can remain as a larva in an elderberry 
stem for up to 2 years, a survey for exit holes during a given year 
might miss its presence and thus register as a short-term extinction. 
We also note that the number of short-term extinctions and 
colonizations is subject to additional error based on timing of 
surveys, because the Barr (1991) and Collinge et al. (2001) surveys 
were conducted from April to July (Barr 1991) or April to June 
(Collinge et al. 2001, p. 105), while the adult beetles emerge (and 
thus create new exit holes) from mid-March to mid-June (Talley et al. 
2006a, p. 9). In other words, an error documenting beetle presence 
could occur in a given year because (for example) beetles could 
potentially emerge in June after a survey is conducted in April.
    The overall trend of valley elderberry longhorn beetle occupancy 
was moderately downward when comparing the 1991 and 1997 survey data 
(described above), as indicated by both short- and long-term 
extinctions and colonization sites with elderberry shrubs and by 
occupied shrub groups within each site (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 13). 
Collinge et al. (2001, pp. 107-108) reported that of 65 sites with 
mature elderberry visited in both surveys, 9 sites suffered short-term 
extinctions while 6 underwent short-term colonizations. They also 
related two long-term extinctions, as compared to four long-term 
colonizations. However, as Talley et al. (2006a, p. 13) noted, there 
were actually 9 long-term extinctions out of 72 sites that Barr had 
surveyed in 1991, because 7 of those sites had lost all their 
elderberry shrubs between studies (Collinge et al. 2001, p. 105), and 
so were not included in the statistics reported by Collinge et al. 
(2001, p. 107). According to Collinge et al. (2001, p. 110), the 
location discussed in this rule that exhibited no recent holes at any 
site in 1997, but did so in 1991, is Stony Creek. Several other entire 
watersheds with multiple elderberry sites examined revealed no beetles 
in either 1991 or 1997 (Paynes, Deer, and Butte Creeks). Collinge et 
al. (2001) did not identify the sites (or systems) lacking elderberry; 
however, Barr (1991, pp. 20-21, 25) did identify drainages without 
elderberries at any site examined (Cow, Battle, Cottonwood Creeks; 
Colusa and Sutter Basins). Barr (1991, p. 47) also noted eight 
localities where there was no sign of the beetle (exit holes or adults) 
where it had been previously reported.
    Collinge et al. (2001) suggested that each drainage surveyed 
functions as a relatively isolated valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
metapopulation, separated from other such metapopulations by distances 
of 25 mi (40 km) or more (Collinge et al. 2001, pp. 108-110; Talley et 
al. 2006a, p. 10). Occupied sites within each metapopulation were found 
to be subject to extirpation, and also to recolonization from other 
occupied sites in the drainage within 12 mi (20 km) (Collinge et al., 
2001, p. 108). Accordingly, Collinge et al. (2001, p. 112) recommended 
that a proportion of occupied sites within a 12-mi (20-km) distance be 
considered in decisions regarding loss of riparian vegetation and 
placement of newly restored habitat for the beetle. Collinge et al. 
(2001, p. 110) concluded that, due to limited dispersal among 
metapopulations, when all the beetles in an entire drainage are 
extirpated, the drainage is unlikely to be naturally recolonized.
    Of the 14 drainages surveyed by both Barr (1991) and Collinge et 
al. (2001), 7 were occupied by valley elderberry longhorn beetles in 
1991. Six of those seven were found to still be occupied in 1997 
(Collinge et al. 2001, pp. 106, 108; Talley et al. 2006a, p. 11). We 
note however that rather than surveying every elderberry shrub and 
branch, Collinge et al. (2001, p. 105) randomly selected distinct 
groups of elderberry shrubs to survey at each site.
    In summary, minimal trend information exists related to valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle's rangewide population status. Collinge et 
al. (2001, pp. 106-107) identified four types of changes evident from 
comparison of the 1991 and 1997 surveys that included both short- and 
long-term extinctions and colonizations. Available survey data from 
Collinge et al. (2001) indicate that some river or watershed systems 
continue to harbor the beetle while others may not. However, because 
Collinge et al. (2001) did not survey all potential beetle habitat at 
each location, the beetle could still be present at

[[Page 60246]]

locations where it appears to be absent. Holyoak and Graves (2010, p. 
20) found that because the beetle's local population levels and 
densities are typically very low, sampling levels must be very high in 
order to detect large population declines within a watershed. 
Regardless of extinctions or colonizations, each watershed system that 
is occupied by the beetle may serve as an isolated metapopulation with 
limited dispersal capabilities; thus the ability for natural 
recolonization (following an extirpation event) within an individual 
watershed system may be unlikely (Collinge et al. 2001, p. 110).

Recovery Planning and Implementation

    Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement 
recovery plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and 
threatened species unless we determine that such a plan will not 
promote the conservation of the species. The Act directs that, to the 
maximum extent practicable, we incorporate into each plan:
    (1) Site-specific management actions that may be necessary to 
achieve the plan's goals for conservation and survival of the species;
    (2) Objective, measurable criteria, which when met, would result in 
a determination, in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of the 
Act, that the species be removed from the list; and
    (3) Estimates of the time required and cost to carry out the plan.
    Revisions to the list (adding, removing, or reclassifying a 
species) must reflect determinations made in accordance with sections 
4(a)(1) and 4(b) of the Act. Section 4(a)(1) that requires that the 
Secretary determine whether a species is endangered or threatened (or 
not) because of one or more of five threat factors. Objective, 
measurable criteria, or recovery criteria contained in recovery plans, 
must indicate when we would anticipate an analysis of the five threat 
factors under 4(a)(1) would result in a determination that a species is 
no longer endangered or threatened. Section 4(b) of the Act requires 
the determination made be ``solely on the basis of the best scientific 
and commercial data available.''
    While recovery plans are intended to provide guidance to the 
Service, States, and other partners on methods of minimizing threats to 
listed species and on criteria that may be used to determine when 
recovery is achieved, they are not regulatory documents and cannot 
substitute for the determinations and promulgation of regulations 
required under section 4(a)(1) of the Act. Determinations to remove a 
species from the list made under section 4(a)(1) of the Act must be 
based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time 
of the determination, regardless of whether that information differs 
from the recovery plan.
    In the course of implementing conservation actions for a species, 
new information is often gained that requires recovery efforts to be 
modified accordingly. There are many paths to accomplishing recovery of 
a species, and recovery may be achieved without all criteria being 
fully met. For example, one or more recovery criteria may have been 
exceeded while other criteria may not have been accomplished, yet the 
Service may judge that, overall, the threats have been minimized 
sufficiently, and the species is robust enough, that the Service may 
reclassify the species from endangered to threatened or perhaps delist 
the species. In other cases, recovery opportunities may have been 
recognized that were not known at the time the recovery plan was 
finalized. These opportunities may be used instead of methods 
identified in the recovery plan.
    Likewise, information on the species may be learned that was not 
known at the time the recovery plan was finalized. The new information 
may change the extent that recovery criteria need to be met for 
recognizing recovery of the species. Overall, recovery of species is a 
dynamic process requiring adaptive management, planning, implementing, 
and evaluating the degree of recovery of a species that may, or may 
not, fully follow the guidance provided in a recovery plan.
    Thus, while the recovery plan provides important guidance on the 
direction and strategy for recovery, and indicates when a rulemaking 
process may be initiated, the determination to remove a species from 
the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife is ultimately 
based on an analysis of whether a species is no longer endangered or 
threatened.
    When the Service completed the final Valley Elderberry Longhorn 
Beetle Recovery Plan (Recovery Plan) in 1984 (Service 1984, pp. 1-62), 
there was little information regarding the beetle's life history, 
distribution, and habitat requirements to develop specific recovery 
objectives (Service 1984, p. 21). The development of these objectives 
was left for a later date (Service 1984, p. 39), and the Recovery Plan 
instead described four primary interim objectives (Service 1984, pp. 
22). This was followed by an outline and narrative (referred to as the 
Step-Down Outline that includes many discrete recovery actions), 
including three of the four primary interim objectives, and four 
additional objectives that are interpreted as recovery actions (these 
latter four additional objectives are further described below in the 
section titled ``Additional Recovery Objectives.'') The determination 
of delisting criteria is considered a discrete action within the 
Recovery Plan's narrative, Step 3--Determine ecological requirements 
and management needs of VELB (Service 1984, pp. 35-39). The four 
primary interim objectives were (Service 1984, p. 22):
    (1) Protect the three known locations of the beetle;
    (2) Survey riparian vegetation along certain Central Valley rivers 
for the beetle and habitat;
    (3) Protect remaining beetle habitat within its suspected 
historical range; and
    (4) Determine the number of sites and populations necessary to 
eventually delist the species.
    In the following paragraphs, we address the extent to which the 
four primary interim objectives (criteria) have been accomplished.
Primary Interim Objective 1--Protect the Three Localities of Valley 
Elderberry Longhorn Beetles
    The intent of this primary interim objective was to ensure that the 
three localities of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle known at the 
time the Recovery Plan was written in 1984 (American River in 
Sacramento County, Putah Creek in Yolo and Solano Counties, and Merced 
River in Merced County) would continue to sustain the subspecies and 
the necessary habitat components on which the subspecies depends at 
those locations.
    The Recovery Plan states that the American River sites may be 
adequately protected through provisions of the American River Parkway 
Plan (Service 1984, p. 32). The River Corridor Management Plan for the 
Lower American River (Lower American River Task Force 2002, p. 94) 
refers to a future funded action to develop a valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle management plan that would include mapping, 
identification of stressors, and management protocols to avoid impacts. 
More recently, the American River Parkway Plan (County of Sacramento 
2008) refers to an Integrated Vegetation and Wildlife Management Plan 
as pending, and references the 2002 Lower American River Corridor Plan 
for interim guidance. It includes generalized measures to maintain the 
beetle and its habitat into the foreseeable future (Talley et al. 
2006a, p.

[[Page 60247]]

61; County of Sacramento 2008, pp. 9, 17, 52). Habitat supporting the 
American River beetle population is intended by respective local 
jurisdictions to remain as open space in which natural values are 
maintained and enhanced. These areas are important public recreational 
areas, and so, are not without localized manmade disturbances such as 
trail maintenance and trampling, but overall are not presently at risk 
of loss to agricultural or urban development. However, the 2002 Lower 
American River Corridor Plan does not identify specific monitoring or 
reporting requirements, remedial actions to address remaining threats, 
or the mechanism by which the plan goals are to be funded and 
implemented over the long term.
    Similar guiding documents have been developed for Putah Creek, 
which may (if implemented) maintain the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle at publicly accessible locations, where management focuses on 
maintaining natural habitat rather than protecting the beetle 
specifically (University of California at Davis 2005, pp. 24-33, App. 
A, p. 1; Gates and Associates 2006, pp. 13-15; Talley et al. 2006a, p. 
61; University of California at Davis 2009, pp. 24-29). Portions of 
Putah Creek are in parkland while the remaining privately owned areas 
are not currently developed. Similar to the American River Parkway 
Plan, the Putah Creek Management Plan lacks specificity on monitoring, 
reporting, and funding.
    The Recovery Plan states that the beetle location on the Merced 
River is from the McConnell State Recreation Area (Service 1984, p. 
31). Evidence of the beetle (exit holes) was not observed by Barr 
(1991), but was noted in a 2010 non-CNDDB record (Table 1). We are 
unaware of the status of management of beetle habitat at this site.
Primary Interim Objective 1--Achievement Evaluation and Summary
    Completion of Primary Interim Objective 1, with respect to the 
original intent of the Recovery Plan, would be represented by three 
locations that are preserved or protected with a reduction of threats 
to the valley elderberry longhorn beetle and its habitat. Threats would 
be addressed through ongoing management actions outlined in respective 
management plans. The Recovery Plan describes long-term administrative 
actions appropriate to protect and secure known colonies, to include 
coordinated long-term agreements (such as cooperative agreements, 
memoranda of understanding, or conservation easements) among primary 
resource management agencies (such as California Department of Water 
Resources, California Water Resources Control Board, U.S. Bureau of 
Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, County governments, and 
private landowners) (Service 1984, p. 30).
    This objective is partially met by management planning efforts 
along the American River and Putah Creek; we are uncertain of the 
status of protection and management planning and implementation at the 
Merced River location. The development of management plans that 
emphasize open space and natural values for riparian areas that support 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle along the American River Parkway 
and Putah Creek are considered beneficial to the beetle and its habitat 
into the future. As we discuss in further detail below, parklands such 
as these are facing increased pressures from human use as population 
centers have expanded since listing, and management plans lack 
sufficient specificity with respect to the subspecies or its host plant 
to ensure long-term persistence. We are unaware of regular monitoring 
of beetles or elderberry shrubs in these areas, from which recovery 
might be assessed. While there is no monitoring of beetles or 
elderberry shrubs in these areas, nor funding targeted on restoration 
or enhancement specifically for the beetle and its habitat, the beetle 
derives long-term benefit and prospects for persistence at these sites 
from management emphasis on maintaining riparian vegetation on the 
American River and Putah Creek.
Primary Interim Objective 2--Survey Riparian Vegetation Along Certain 
Central Valley Rivers for Additional Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle 
Colonies and Habitat
    As discussed throughout this document, the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle was known at the time of listing from only three 
locations. Since listing, observations of the beetle have been recorded 
at 26 locations throughout the Central Valley (Table 1). The occurrence 
of additional populations was anticipated in both our listing rule and 
Recovery Plan (Service 1980, p. 52804; Service 1984, p. 32). The 
Recovery Plan recommended surveys within the suspected range of the 
beetle along portions of the Sacramento, Feather, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, 
Mokelumne, Calaveras, Cosumnes, and San Joaquin Rivers (Service 1984, 
pp. 23, 32-35). The intent of this interim objective was to document 
the existence of additional populations so that they could then be 
protected as described in Primary Interim Objective 3.
Primary Interim Objective 2--Achievement Evaluation and Summary
    Achievement of this objective with respect to the original intent 
of the Recovery Plan is represented by completion of surveys in the 
above-named locations that resulted in the reporting of 23 additional 
locations of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle throughout the 
Central Valley. Many of these surveys are old, and the subspecies would 
benefit from further survey information throughout the Central Valley 
to update information and provide guidance for additional protection 
and restoration actions, as was originally contemplated in the Recovery 
Plan. The subspecies is more widespread than had been documented at the 
time of listing. The cumulative increase in beetle occurrences and 
increase in the known range of the subspecies in the Central Valley is 
considered sufficient to meet the original intent of Primary Interim 
Objective 2.
Primary Interim Objective 3--Protect Remaining Beetle Habitat Within 
Its Suspected Historical Range
    The intent of this recovery criterion was to ensure that newly 
discovered valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat would be 
protected. The Recovery Plan (Service 1984, p. 40) describes 
administrative actions to protect newly discovered habitat, including a 
cooperative agreement or memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers (Corps) to conduct surveys for valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle for activities they permit in riparian areas, as well 
the interagency consultation requirements of section 7 of the Act.
    Of the 23 locations discovered since the Recovery Plan was 
prepared, 10 contain well-protected lands such as State or Federal 
wildlife areas, or areas with conservation easements (Bear River, 
Cosumnes River, Feather River, Sacramento River, Stony Creek, Big Chico 
Creek, Butte Creek, Tuolumne River, Kaweah River, and San Joaquin 
River). Portions of five locations are managed for natural and open 
space values, are partially on city parks or Forest Service lands, and 
have current protections against urban development, but no specific 
protections for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or elderberry 
shrubs (Big Chico Creek, Lower Stanislaus River, Kings River, Upper 
Stanislaus Hills, and a portion of the Kaweah River upstream of Lake 
Isabella). The remaining locations, or

[[Page 60248]]

portions of locations, are on lands without protections, some of which 
are private lands or designated floodways that experience activities 
that may adversely affect the beetle (primarily vegetation suppression 
from bank protection and vegetation removal on levees and within 
floodway channels), or protections are unknown. This includes some 
sections of the Sacramento River from Colusa to the American River 
confluence, Thomes Creek, Yuba River, Upper American River, Cache 
Creek, Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks, Upper Stanislaus Hills, Calaveras 
River-Stockton Diverting Canal, Mokelumne-Bear Rivers, Kings River, 
Tule River-Deer Creek, Kern River, and Caliente Creek.
Primary Interim Objective 3--Achievement Evaluation and Summary
    Achievement of criterion 3 with respect to the original intent of 
the Recovery Plan would be represented by protection of the remaining 
suitable habitat at newly discovered occupied beetle locations. This 
criterion is considered partially met because the protections discussed 
in our Recovery Plan have been applied to all or portions of 13 of the 
23 newly discovered locations. Protections at all or portions of 12 
locations described above are either lacking or unknown. Some locations 
have varying degrees of protection in different areas and have been 
counted in more than one category. Several of the newly discovered 
localities are now preserved and managed for at least the conservation 
of natural values associated with riparian vegetation, including, if 
not specifically for, the beetle. Such management is being applied to 
occupied and unoccupied sites within these locations. Management 
activities at these locations include habitat restoration to increase 
the amount of suitable habitat for potential use by the beetle. We 
consider Primary Interim Objective 3 to be partially met.
Primary Interim Objective 4--Determine the Number of Sites and 
Populations Necessary To Eventually Delist the Species
    The intent of this primary interim objective was to utilize the 
results of surveys and other information to determine the areal extent 
and number of populations of valley elderberry longhorn beetle that 
would be needed to delist the subspecies. Our 1984 Recovery Plan stated 
that this would be determined (Service 1984, p. 39) ``in part * * * by 
the remaining habitat and beetles found during survey work.'' Thus, the 
delisting criteria would not be solely based on survey information, but 
also based on information derived from other actions described in the 
step-down narrative, including but not limited to, life history, 
population structure, limiting factors, adult behavior, site-specific 
management needs, tests of the effectiveness of various management 
practices, and other factors. To date, specific delisting recovery 
criteria have not been developed.
Primary Interim Objective 4--Achievement Evaluation and Summary
    A greater number of beetle occurrences have been discovered than we 
previously anticipated, which has resulted in a total of 26 locations 
known today compared to 3 locations known at the time of listing. The 
new detections of the beetle in riparian vegetation throughout the 
Central Valley (as compared to only Sacramento, Yolo, Solano, and 
Merced Counties at the time the Recovery Plan was written) have altered 
our understanding of the subspecies' range and distribution. This 
improved understanding, together with restoration, habitat management, 
and protection implemented at various locations to date, have led us to 
determine that the beetle can persist without the protections of the 
Act. The status review and five-factor analysis contained in this 
proposed rule provide the information on which our delisting proposal 
is based.
Additional Recovery Objectives
    As discussed above in this section, the Recovery Plan described 
four primary interim objectives (Service 1984, p. 22). The Recovery 
Plan also includes an outline and narrative (referred to as the Step-
Down Outline), which contains four additional recovery objectives that 
are interpreted as recovery actions. These four additional recovery 
objectives (hereafter referred to as additional recovery actions) are a 
sample of the actions outlined in the narrative of the Recovery Plan 
that have been implemented for the benefit of the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle. The four additional recovery actions summarized here 
are directly related to the primary interim objectives and include: (1) 
Determining the beetle's ecological requirements and management needs, 
(2) reestablishing the beetle at rehabilitated sites, (3) increasing 
public awareness of the beetle, and (4) enforcing existing laws and 
regulations protecting the beetle (Service 1984, pp. 22-26). A summary 
of our evaluation of these additional recovery actions is shown in the 
following four paragraphs, thus providing information for the public on 
the extent to which we have implemented and completed these actions.
    1. Determine the valley elderberry longhorn beetle's ecological 
requirements and management needs. Significant progress has been made 
in our understanding of the beetle's autecology, life history, and 
habitat restoration, but aspects of the beetle's population dynamics 
and dispersal remain less well understood (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 62). 
The draft PDM Plan includes monitoring that will help address 
deficiencies.
    2. Reestablish the valley elderberry longhorn beetle at 
rehabilitated sites. Rehabilitated sites can be divided into those 
established in conjunction with incidental take of existing habitat 
under section 7 of the Act, and those established without associated 
incidental take. Approximately 400 to 1,900 ac (162 to 769 ha) of land 
fall into the first category (i.e., rehabilitated sites associated with 
section 7 consultation incidental take permits), based on a review of 
110 out of 526 section 7 consultations involving the beetle (Service 
2006a, p. 7). Of that restored habitat, about 43 to 53 percent (172 to 
1,007 ac; 70 to 408 ha) has successfully been colonized by the beetle 
(Holyoak and Koch-Munz 2008, p. 1; Holyoak et al. 2010, p. 50). 
Approximately 4,000 ac (1,619 ha) of land fall into the second category 
of rehabilitated sites (i.e., rehabilitated sites that are not 
associated with incidental take permits) (see Factor A, 
``Conservation--Habitat Restoration and Protection'' section below for 
additional information on restored beetle habitat). The extent of that 
restored habitat that has been colonized by the beetle remains unknown 
at this time (Talley 2006a, p. 50).
    3. Increase public awareness of the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle. We maintain information on the beetle at http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es_species/Accounts/Invertebrates/es_species-accounts_invertebrates.htm, and the University of California at Berkeley 
maintains an informational Web site on the beetle (http://essig.berkeley.edu/endins/desmocer.htm). Additionally, organizations 
involved in habitat restoration for the beetle have occasionally 
published relevant information in newsletters, press releases, and Web 
sites (Community Business Bank 2008, p. 1; Environmental Defense 2010, 
pp. 1-2; River Partners 2010, p. 2).
    4. Enforce existing laws and regulations protecting the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle. As discussed below for current estimates 
under the

[[Page 60249]]

Factor A, ``Conservation--Habitat Restoration and Protection'' section, 
approximately 21,536 ac (8,715 ha) of riparian vegetation have been 
protected through either a conservation easement, riparian fee land 
managed by CDFG, or public land known to be managed for conservation 
values (such as Cosumnes River Preserve). Additionally, approximately 
13,000 ac (5,261 ha) of riparian vegetation has been restored on 
predominantly Federal and State lands, and other areas have had beetle 
habitat restored, totaling approximately 12,400 ac (5,018 ha). Note, 
however, that there is significant, albeit incomplete, overlap among 
these vegetation estimates as further described in the current 
estimates section under Factor A, ``Conservation--Habitat Restoration 
and Protection.'' Regardless, these areas are subject to various laws 
or regulations. For example, conservation easements are held by 
qualified environmental protection organizations, and will be enforced 
under the terms of California Civil Code sections 815 through 816. 
Another example includes protection to riparian vegetation and beetle 
habitat on NWR lands as a result of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act of 1997 (see ``Federal Protections'' section under 
Factor D below). This refuge system legislation supports various 
management actions that benefit valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
through the mandatory development and implementation of Comprehensive 
Conservation Plans.
Results of Recovery Plan Review
    The Recovery Plan did not include recovery criteria, but did 
include four primary interim objectives that were to be addressed 
initially and used to develop recovery criteria. Our review indicates 
that interim objective 1 is partially met by management and planning 
efforts at two of the three originally known locations of the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle. Interim objective 2 is met because surveys 
were conducted throughout the range of the subspecies and identified 23 
additional locations at which the valley elderberry longhorn beetle was 
present. However, much of this information is old, and additional 
surveys should be conducted at these locations and others. Interim 
objective 3 is considered partially met because the protections 
discussed in the Recovery Plan have been applied to all or portions of 
13 of the 23 locations discovered since listing (or since the Recovery 
Plan was finalized). Interim objective 4 is considered partially met, 
noting that recovery of species is a dynamic process requiring adaptive 
management, planning, implementing, and evaluating the degree of 
recovery of a species that may, or may not, fully follow the guidance 
provided in a recovery plan. Notwithstanding data uncertainties and the 
absence of protections or enhancements at some locations, there are a 
significantly greater number of known occurrences and locations of the 
beetle (resulting in a significantly greater range size as compared to 
the time of listing) across the Central Valley. Based on our review of 
the Recovery Plan for the subspecies and our review of the beetle's 
status under section 4(a)(1) of the Act presented below, we are 
proposing to remove the valley elderberry longhorn beetle from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for adding 
species to, reclassifying species on, or removing species from the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List). We may 
determine a species 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. The five listing factors 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; and (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 (as is the case 
with the valley elderberry longhorn beetle); or (3) the original 
scientific data used at the time the species was classified were in 
error.
    We took the following steps in order to examine the scale of 
threats and potential for extinction for the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle within the 26 known beetle locations and as a whole:
    (1) We compiled a rangewide GIS spatial database that included all 
available information on beetle records, riparian vegetation, section 7 
consultations, mitigation actions, conservation and other protection 
actions (including specific plantings of elderberry shrubs), current 
(year 2010) aerial imagery, roadways, and near-term population growth 
(i.e., through the year 2020).
    (2) We used the database (described in step 1 above) and supporting 
information to synthesize a best professional opinion of the prospectus 
for persistence with delisting at those locations, considering current 
habitat; occupation records by location (presented previously in Table 
1); threats; protections and recovery actions; and studies needed to 
address uncertainties in species data, protections, threats, and 
prospectus for persistence.
    The five factors listed under section 4(a)(1) of the Act and their 
analysis in relation to the beetle are presented below (additional 
discussion is presented in the Finding section below regarding these 
threats within the context of the north Central Valley, south Central 
Valley, and the subspecies as a whole across its range). This analysis 
of threats requires an evaluation of both the threats currently facing 
the subspecies and the threats that could potentially affect it in the 
foreseeable future, following the delisting and the removal of the 
Act's protections. The Act defines an endangered species as a species 
that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range (16 U.S.C. 1632(6)). A threatened species is one that is 
likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 
1632(20)).
    In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look 
beyond the exposure of the species to a particular factor to evaluate 
whether the species may respond to the factor in a way that causes 
actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor and the 
species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat, and during the 
status review, we attempt to determine how significant a threat it is. 
The threat is significant if it drives or contributes to the risk of 
extinction of the species, such that the species warrants listing as 
endangered or threatened as those terms are defined by the Act. 
However, the identification of factors that could impact a species 
negatively may not be sufficient to compel a finding that the species 
warrants listing. The information must include evidence sufficient to 
suggest that the potential threat is likely to materialize and that it 
has the capacity (i.e., it should be of sufficient magnitude and 
extent) to affect the species' status such that it meets the definition 
of endangered or threatened under the Act.

[[Page 60250]]

Factor A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range

    At the time of listing, habitat destruction was identified as one 
of the most significant threats to the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle (45 FR 52805, August 8, 1980; Eng 1984, pp. 916-917). This 
section analyzes four threats that have been identified to impact, or 
potentially impact, the valley elderberry longhorn beetle under Factor 
A:
    (1) Agricultural and urban development;
    (2) Levees and flood protection;
    (3) Road maintenance and dust; and
    (4) Climate change.

We also include a discussion on the habitat restoration and protection 
efforts afforded the subspecies in response to Factor A threats (see 
``Conservation--Habitat Restoration and Protection'' below). Finally, 
we note that Talley et al. (2006, pp. 44-46) also mentions pollution, 
competition with invasives, and grazing as potential factors affecting 
elderberry shrubs, which are both Factor A and E threats within the 
context of this five factor analysis; however, none of these appear to 
be well studied and are not identified as widespread threats.
Agricultural and Urban Development
    As discussed above (``Lost Historical Range'' section), a 
significant amount of riparian vegetation (of which a portion contained 
elderberry shrubs) has been converted to agriculture and urban 
development since the mid-1800s according to estimates by Thompson 1961 
(pp. 310-311) and Katibah et al. 1984 (p. 314). For example, Lang et 
al. (1989, p. 243) observed less riparian vegetation (as well as 
significantly fewer sites occupied by the beetle) in the lower reach of 
the Sacramento River (between Sacramento and Colusa), than in the 
northern reach (Chico to Red Bluff). This decrease in riparian 
vegetation was attributed to extensive flood control activities (which 
are directly related to agricultural and urban development, and further 
discussed in the Factor A, ``Threats--Levees and Flood Protection'' 
section below), predominantly carried out prior to the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle's listing, but some such activities have 
occurred since listing and continue to occur today (CVFMPP 2010).
    Although riparian vegetation in the Central Valley has been lost 
over time, a number of areas have been restored to accommodate the 
habitat needs and recovery of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
(riparian vegetation that specifically contains elderberry shrubs), as 
described in detail in Factor A, ``Conservation--Habitat Restoration 
and Protection'' below. To provide an indication of the amount of 
beetle habitat lost and restored since the beetle's listing in 1980, we 
reviewed Federal projects for which we conducted consultations for the 
beetle under section 7 of the Act. As part of these consultations, 
incidental take for the beetle was measured in terms of acres of 
habitat impacted, because incidental take of beetles themselves could 
not be determined due to the biology of the subspecies and difficulty 
in monitoring it. From 1983 to 2006, the incidental take we authorized 
amounted to roughly 10,000 to 20,000 ac (4,047 to 8,094 ha) of 
potential beetle habitat (both occupied and suitable; suitable is 
defined as habitat that contains mature elderberry shrubs with stems of 
at least 1 in. (2.5 cm) in diameter), primarily for projects associated 
with urbanization, transportation, water management, and flood control 
(Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 31-34). See the Factor A, ``Levees and Flood 
Protection'' section below for discussion of water management and flood 
control activities.
    Although incidental take authorized by section 7 consultations has 
occurred throughout the current range of the subspecies, it has been 
concentrated in areas predominantly developed prior to the subspecies' 
listing under the Act. Additionally, not all of the incidental take 
authorized by those section 7 consultations has been carried out, so 
the number of actual acres of habitat lost is some unknown degree less 
than the number of acres of habitat we anticipated (Talley et al. 
2006a, p. 34). Incidental take authorized through the section 7 
consultation process would have included elderberries associated with 
both riparian and upland vegetation, as well as stems with, and 
without, exit holes. Stems without exit holes are included because 
absence of the beetle in a specific shrub cannot be determined with 100 
percent certainty due to the fact that use of the elderberry by the 
beetle is not always apparent (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 10).
    In addition to evaluating section 7 Federal projects to provide an 
indication of the amount of elderberry shrubs lost or restored since 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle's listing, we reviewed the 20 
incidental take permits issued to non-Federal entities (undertaking 
otherwise lawful projects that might result in the take of an 
endangered or threatened species) under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. 
The majority of these permits minimally impacted the beetle or its 
habitat (elderberry shrubs), and only eight of those permits are still 
active. We issue these permits only upon our approval of a habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) that is developed, funded, and implemented by 
the permittee, and that adequately minimizes and mitigates the effects 
of incidental take associated with the proposed activity. Incidental 
take associated with the 12 expired permits is estimated at less than 
100 ac (40 ha) of beetle habitat. For the eight active permits, 4,808 
ac (1,946 ha) of take is permitted, and all of the corresponding HCPs 
contain elderberry shrubs and evidence of at least past occupancy (exit 
holes) of the beetle within their boundaries (noting that at least one 
known beetle location is addressed by each HCP). Section 
10(a)(2)(B)(ii) of the Act requires HCP applicants to agree to mitigate 
takings of identified species ``to the maximum extent practicable.'' 
These mitigation requirements are built into each HCP implementing 
agreement, so even if the beetle is delisted they will continue to 
apply within the bounds of the HCPs.
    Unauthorized impacts to the beetle or elderberry host plant are 
likely to have occurred, and the Service is aware of examples. Talley 
et al. (2006, p. 34) report that most of this unauthorized activity is 
unmonitored; some settlements have occurred, and none of these has been 
pursued to the point of penalties or prosecution under the Act.
    Conversion of agricultural lands to urban areas and direct 
urbanization of natural areas that include riparian vegetation continue 
to impact the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, because elderberry is 
a minor component of the vegetation that grows (in some areas) along 
existing irrigation channels, on hedgerows, and on, and adjacent to, 
levees that provide flood control to this agriculture. Existing 
agriculture continues to affect beetle habitat through suppression of 
vegetation in, what are now, channelized tributaries and split channels 
that function for drainage and irrigation. For example, vegetation 
suppression occurs in channelized tributaries or split channels at 
approximately two locations in the north Central Valley (Sacramento 
River-Chico to Colusa and the Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks locations) and 
more frequently at approximately six locations in the south Central 
Valley (Lower Stanislaus hills, Calaveras River-Stockton Diverting 
Channel, Merced River, Kings River, Kaweah River, and Caliente Creek). 
Agricultural lands provide the additional benefit of buffering natural 
lands, whereas urban land uses most often do not. Agricultural 
development has probably reached close to its maximum extent in

[[Page 60251]]

the Central Valley. However, conversion of agricultural lands into 
urban development continues at a significant rate (American Farmland 
Trust 2011), and as a consequence, continues to affect beetle habitat 
by eliminating elderberries along irrigation channels and hedgerows, 
eliminating the buffering effect, and precluding the potential to 
restore riparian forest vegetation (discussed further below). Current 
conversion of agricultural lands (and subsequent elimination of 
riparian vegetation and in some cases elderberry) is evident in the 
north Central Valley (such as along the Sacramento River between Red 
Bluff and Chico and the Yuba River) and south Central Valley (such as 
the Calaveras River-Stockton Diverting Channel and the Kaweah River).
    During the 1990s, the Central Valley experienced a decline of about 
223,000 ac (90,245 ha) of high-quality farmland (American Farmland 
Trust 2011). Although some of this is due to reclassification, about 
100,000 ac (40,469 ha) is considered to have been urbanized (homes, 
businesses, impervious surfaces) (American Farmland Trust 2011). 
Between 2000 and 2002, 27,000 ac (10,926 ha) of farmland were urbanized 
(American Farmland Trust 2011). Examples of light residential or rural 
ranchette development since listing (most recent) are evident in areas 
along as the Consumnes River (in the vicinity of the towns of Wilton 
and Rancho Murieta), Bear River (east of Lodi, with documented 1984 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle record), Cache Creek (north and 
adjacent to the city of Woodland), the Kern River (expansion of 
Bakersfield), and many other locations throughout the State. Most of 
these developments have resulted in some direct loss of beetle habitat, 
as evidenced by consultation actions.
    In sum, losses of valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat 
associated with agricultural activities through conversion to urban 
uses is likely to occur to some extent because elderberry is a minor 
component of vegetation along irrigation channels, levees, and 
hedgerows, and agriculture is a major land use adjacent to the 
Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their tributaries. Many of the 26 
locations in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, as well as to 
areas outside of the 26 locations are affected by this activity. 
However, compared to the past loss of beetle habitat that resulted from 
flood control and agricultural development, future losses are likely to 
result from progressive conversion of agriculture into urban growth.
    The range of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle is now known to 
be greater than at the time of listing, and it is known from 26 
locations throughout the Central Valley. The bulk of habitat protection 
and restoration activities have occurred in the northern Central Valley 
locations. In the south Central Valley, where historical habitat losses 
are believed to have been greater, a more limited quantity of protected 
and restored beetle habitat exists. Even with consideration of the 
restoration activities that have occurred in the subspecies' range (see 
the Factor A, ``Conservation--Habitat Restoration and Protection'' 
section below), the threat posed by agricultural and urban development 
(including activities that impact the vegetation that grows along 
existing irrigation channels, levees, etc.) may continue into the 
future in both the north and south Central Valley as urban growth 
places agricultural lands and associated riparian vegetation at further 
risk.
Levees and Flood Protection
    The flood protection system in California's Central Valley includes 
about 1,600 mi (2,575 km) of Federal project levees, 1,200 mi (1,931 
km) of designated floodways, 26 project channels covering several 
thousand acres, and 56 other major flood protection works. Projects 
that may have impacted, or could impact, valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle habitat include: levee construction; bank protection; 
channelization; facility improvements or ongoing maintenance 
activities, including clearing and snagging; construction of bypasses; 
and construction of ancillary features (such as overflow weirs and 
outfall gates). Some of these projects or facilities predate Federal 
authorization, and either meet, or are modified to meet (through 
current or future activities), Federal standards. Many predate listing, 
although some facilities have been constructed since listing, and 
additional projects are proposed for imminent construction.
    Construction and maintenance of these flood protection systems and 
associated reservoir flood control facilities have resulted in direct 
losses of riparian vegetation within project impact areas, and indirect 
impacts in surrounding riparian vegetation due to agricultural and 
urban development that resulted from flood protection (see Factor A, 
``Agricultural and Urban Development'' above). Flood control facilities 
are also subject to vegetative removal activities to maintain flood 
capacity or alleviate perceived levee risks (see below).
    Examples of past major activities in the north Central Valley 
include the Sacramento River Flood Control Project (980 mi (1,577 km) 
of levees); Sacramento River Major and Minor Tributaries (channel 
enlargement of portions of Chico, Mud, Dandy Gulch, Butte, Little 
Chico, Elder, and Deer Creeks); American River Flood Control Project 
(18 mi (29 km) of levee); Sacramento River Chico Landing to Red Bluff 
(increased bank protection); Lake Oroville-New Bullards Bar (reservoir 
footprints); and the Sacramento River Bank Protection Project (915,000 
linear feet (ft) (279 km) of bank protection in Phases I and II with 
Phase III not yet specified). Examples of past major activities in the 
south Central Valley include the Lower San Joaquin-River and 
Tributaries project (major flood control activities) and the Mormon 
Slough Project (levees, channel improvements, pumping plants). With the 
exception of the Cosumnes River, major multi-purpose dams exist on both 
north and south Central Valley mainstems and all major tributaries, 
including those at the following locations: Lake Shasta, Black Butte 
Lake, Folsom Lake, Lake Oroville, New Bullards Bar Reservoir, Lake 
McClure, Don Pedro Reservoir, New Melones Lake, Pardee Reservoir, 
Camanche Reservoir, New Hogan Lake, Bear River Reservoir, Owens 
Reservoir, Mariposa Reservoir, H.V. Eastman Lake, Hensley Lake, and 
Millerton Lake. Smaller dams exist in other locations within the range 
of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Tributaries in the southern 
portion of the south Central Valley (within the range of the beetle) 
have also been affected by major dams on the Kings River (Pine Flat 
Dam), Lake Success on the Tule River (Success Dam), and Kern River 
(Isabella Dam).
    Flood control activities are evident as current threats and appear 
more frequently in the north Central Valley (such as the Lower American 
River and Cache Creek locations) and less frequently in the south 
Central Valley (such as Tule River-Deer Creek and San Joaquin River 
locations). Information presented in the following paragraphs is a more 
detailed account of potential impacts to remaining riparian vegetation 
(that may or may not contain elderberry shrubs) at existing facilities, 
including along levees, channels, etc., as previously introduced in the 
section above (Factor A, ``Agricultural and Urban Development'').
    Currently, the State Plan of Flood Control (SPFC) in California's 
Central Valley is composed of 20 major projects along the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin Rivers and tributaries (CVFMPP 2010).

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Projects within the Sacramento River basin include the following: 
Sacramento River Flood Control Project, Sacramento River and Major and 
Minor Tributaries Project, American River Flood Control Project, 
Sacramento River-Chico Landing to Red Bluff, Adin Project, Middle Creek 
Project, McClure Creek Project, Salt Creek Project, Lake Oroville 
Project, Sacramento River Bank Protection Project, and North Fork 
Feather River Project. Projects within the San Joaquin River basin 
include the following: Lower San Joaquin River and Tributaries Project, 
Buchanan Reservoir and Channel Improvement on Chowchilla River, Hidden 
and Hensley Lake Project, Merced County Streams Project, Bear Creek 
Project, Littlejohn Creek and Calaveras River Stream Group Project, 
Farmington Reservoir Project, and Mormon Slough Project. In addition to 
routine as-needed maintenance or improvements of the completed projects 
outlined above, other major activities or projects within the range of 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle are expected, including:
    (1) Ongoing projects, such as the American River Watershed 
Investigation, the Natomas Levee Improvement, and the West Sacramento 
Levee Improvement Project;
    (2) Projects under other Corps authorities, such as RD 17 Phase III 
(San Joaquin River, north of Lathrop);
    (3) Projects in the planning phase, such as the Feather River West 
Levee Project (44 mi (71 km)) from Thermolito Afterbay to the Sutter 
Bypass; and
    (4) Projects under investigation but not yet authorized, such as 
the Sacramento River Bank Protection Project (SRBPP) Phase III.
    Riparian vegetation losses from development projects have been 
compensated through a variety of restoration activities or protections 
of land, as described in various places throughout this document (for 
example, see the Recovery Planning and Implementation section (primary 
Interim Objective 3) above, or ``Conservation--Habitat Restoration and 
Protection'' below). It is likely that these activities have benefitted 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle and its habitat.
    We also anticipate that future actions will be implemented within 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle's range to treat areas for flood 
damage under emergency authority (Pub. L. 84-99) on an as-needed basis, 
such as flood damage repairs made in 1997 and 1999. Past emergency 
actions (often involving placement of rock revetment) and continued 
maintenance since construction (which precludes or suppresses future 
vegetation growth) have affected hundreds of sites and many miles of 
river systems (such as the recent emergency levee repair conducted 
along the Sacramento River (American River confluence south). 
Maintenance practices are relatively frequent to achieve compliance 
with the Corp's standard operating procedures (for processing 
Department of the Army permit applications) and vary with location, 
ranging from twice a year to once every 5 years, or more, depending on 
specific site characteristics and need. These activities can damage or 
remove vegetation that could potentially provide beetle habitat.
    Trees and shrubs grow to a variable extent on most of the State-
Federal levees in the Central Valley; this vegetation (which in some 
instances may include elderberry shrubs) provides an important remnant 
of the riparian forest that once lined the Sacramento and San Joaquin 
Rivers and tributaries. Currently, there is no estimate of the acreage 
of riparian vegetation on Central Valley levees and other flood 
facility lands, nor of what portion of the riparian vegetation contains 
elderberry shrubs. The California Department of Water Resources is in 
the process of determining the acreage of woody vegetation on levees 
using recent aerial photography of the entire flood control system. 
This information was not available to us for analysis and consideration 
in this proposed rule.
    Ongoing and future maintenance of levees, channels, and other 
facilities for purposes of flood control and agriculture may result in 
future losses of riparian vegetation and associated valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle habitat, or at least prevent establishment of 
additional beetle habitat on, and immediately adjacent to, levees or 
within channels that otherwise could benefit the beetle. The effect of 
flood control and associated maintenance on riparian vegetation varies 
somewhat with the extent of setback (if present) of the levee from the 
water's edge, and the magnitude of maintenance activities within the 
designated floodway. Although some locations do have vegetated areas on 
or adjacent to the floodway (such as the American River, unleveed 
portions of the Sacramento River from Red Bluff to Chico, Feather River 
portions of east bank), many do not. Flood control activities, combined 
with associated agricultural and urban development, are considered 
largely responsible for the loss of riparian vegetation throughout the 
beetle's range before and since listing, and also for the presence of 
less riparian vegetation along the lower Sacramento River compared to 
the upper Sacramento River. Specifically, the lower Sacramento River, 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and San Joaquin River contain areas that 
are constrained by flood control levees and areas of urban and 
agricultural development, thereby limiting future restoration 
opportunities in those areas.
    The California Central Valley Flood Protection Board (Flood 
Protection Board; previously known as the Reclamation Board) oversees 
the Central Valley's flood control system, and has jurisdiction over 
the floodplains and levees on both sides of the waterways. For more 
than a decade, the Flood Protection Board has generally denied permits 
for projects that involve planting elderberry shrubs in floodplain 
areas between levees, because the Board is concerned that additional 
beetle habitat could interfere with, or delay, flood prevention 
measures (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 46). The Flood Protection Board is 
also concerned that flood prevention measures might damage valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle habitat and thereby lead to costly impact 
minimization requirements, such as habitat restoration. To date, 
restoration of beetle habitat has not been allowed within their 
facilities (River Partners 2003, p. 4; 2004b, p. 4); however, 
restoration or other minimization measures for vegetation loss has 
occurred at other locations within the range of the beetle.
    Since listing, there have been nationwide changes to Corps flood 
control system maintenance requirements. Specifically, on April 10, 
2009, the Corps issued Engineering Technical Letter (ETL) 1110-2-571 
(Guidelines For Landscape Planting and Vegetation Management at Levees, 
Floodwalls, Embankment Dams, and Appurtenant Structures). This ETL 
standard establishes a vegetation-free zone for the top of all levees 
and levee slopes, and 15 ft (4.5 m) on both the water and land sides of 
levees (which could potentially eliminate occupied or unoccupied 
elderberry shrubs that may be present). Currently, and in specific 
cases, the Corps provides for the potential issuance of variances from 
the standard vegetation guidelines in the ETL, which in turn provides 
opportunities to maintain or improve valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
habitat throughout its range. Variances may be issued to further 
enhance environmental values or meet State and Federal laws and 
regulations. The variance must be shown to be necessary, and to be the 
only feasible means to: (1) Preserve, protect, and enhance natural 
resources; or (2) protect the rights of Native

[[Page 60253]]

Americans, pursuant to treaty and statute. In major portions of some 
levee systems where vegetation is already limited or absent (such as 
the Sacramento River between Sacramento and Colusa), the variance 
process is a possible means by which some increment of beetle habitat 
may be restored. Following the Corps' recent proposal to revise the 
current process for requesting variances from the ETL (75 FR 6364; 
February 9, 2010), the Service has continued to work with the Corps and 
others to seek a collaborative solution where a vegetation variance, 
tailored to regional conditions, can be issued. This cooperative 
partnership regarding the specifics of granting variances remains 
valuable for the long-term conservation of the beetle and its habitat 
because granting a variance would allow some woody vegetation, 
including elderberry shrubs, to remain in place or be planted on 
levees.
    We are not presently able to determine how many levee segments may 
be eligible for a variance. At the time of this proposal, the Service 
does not consider the variance process to be a reliable and consistent 
means of assuring the protection and persistence of beetle habitat 
where it is at risk of loss from flood control activities. We conclude 
this because a variance has been granted only once in the past. The 
Corps is currently preparing to issue a public draft of a new policy 
guidance letter for the variance process; thus, we do not know the 
extent to which the Corps may be willing to accommodate variances for 
woody vegetation that may include elderberry shrubs in the future 
variance process.
    In addition to ongoing work with the Corps regarding the variances, 
some parts of the State-Federal flood protection system in the Central 
Valley currently meet the ETL standards for vegetation, and the State 
will enforce the standards in those areas in the future. New levees 
being added to a flood protection system (such as setback levees, 
backup levees, and ring levees) will also be designed, constructed, and 
maintained to ETL standards. This means the type and stature of 
vegetation that provides valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat will 
continue to be suppressed, although additional habitat would be 
available off the levees within new levee areas. The older and original 
levees built immediately adjacent to California's major riverine 
systems present unique challenges that may require regional variances 
or other engineered alternatives if vegetation is to remain, or else 
they too may be required to establish and maintain the vegetation-free 
zones required by the ETL (as described in the preceding paragraph).
    The Sacramento Area Flood Control Association sponsored a symposium 
to discuss issues related to levees and vegetation in August 2007. The 
symposium led to formation of the California Levees Roundtable, a 
collaborative partnership of Federal, State, and local officials. A 
product of the Roundtable was the release of the California's Central 
Valley Flood System Improvement Framework document (Framework). 
Included in the Framework document are interim criteria for vegetation 
management on levees, which will be followed while the Central Valley 
Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) is being developed. The CVFPP is a 
system-wide strategic plan for flood risk reduction in the Central 
Valley (scheduled for completion in July 2012) that would occur over 
several decades as funding allows.
    The Framework has interim criteria that are currently being 
implemented for vegetation control on levees, which include 
requirements for tree branches (but not trunks) to be trimmed up to 5 
ft (1.52 m) above the base and sides of the levee, and up to 12 ft (3.6 
m) above the top of the levee. The interim criteria also call for 
enough thinning of vegetation to allow visibility and access to the 
levee. Thus, the interim criteria and the Framework allow properly 
trimmed elderberry shrubs to grow on and around levees, whereas the 
Corps' ETL standard vegetation guidelines (assuming no variance) 
currently do not.
    The Framework interim criteria are in effect until the CVFPP plan 
is completed in 2012. It is not clear at this point whether the CVFPP 
will incorporate the ETL standards, the Framework interim criteria, or 
some other set of standards collaboratively developed by the agencies 
involved. Accordingly, the effect of the Framework document is to allow 
more vegetation to remain in place than would the ETL guidelines. 
Neither the Framework nor the ETL guidelines are currently structured 
to accommodate extensive riparian restoration that potentially could 
enable the valley elderberry longhorn beetle to be restored to river 
reaches from which it currently is absent due to lack of habitat. 
Therefore, where such additional vegetation may be deemed appropriate 
to benefit the beetle, a variance would be required.
    The Framework identified a deadline of November 1, 2010, for Local 
Maintaining Agencies (LMAs) to be in compliance with the Framework 
interim criteria. The Department of Water Resources conducts levee 
inspections twice a year, and reported that 86 of the 106 LMAs (81 
percent) were in compliance with the interim criteria by the deadline 
(Eckman 2010, pers. comm.). Thirteen LMAs report they will not comply, 
and seven report they may comply. The most common reasons for not 
complying and for uncertainty about complying include cost, impact 
minimization requirements, and inconsistencies between agencies and 
issues relating to presence of elderberry shrubs. Thus, elderberry 
shrubs may persist in a portion of the 9 percent of LMAs where 
compliance is uncertain for a temporary and undetermined time period in 
part because some landowners or agencies think permits to cut or remove 
elderberries are difficult to obtain and they will be required to 
compensate for loss and damage. Additionally, landowners view the 
process of obtaining a permit to cut and remove elderberry as time-
consuming. Currently, compliance with the interim criteria would result 
in impact minimization or compensation measures for any elderberry 
branches or shrubs removed, in accordance with the Service's 
conservation and mitigation guidelines (Service 1996, pp. 3, 4; Service 
1999a, pp. 3, 4). These beneficial measures would no longer be required 
if the beetle is delisted.
    Based on data compiled by the Department of Water Resources during 
their levee inspections (Eckman 2010, pers. comm.), about 91 mi (146 
km) of the total 1,600 mi (2,575 km) of levees (6 percent) do not meet 
the Framework interim criteria requiring trimming of branches and 
thinning of brush. About 111 elderberry shrubs were estimated to be 
present on 2.5 miles (4 km) of those 91 miles (146 km), which is less 
than one percent of the total length of the levees (Eckman 2010, pers. 
comm.). Most, if not all, of the levee system locations are within the 
26 locations described in Tables 1 and 2 of this proposed rule. Near-
term impacts to remaining beetle habitat as a result of maintenance 
needed to comply with the Framework and interim criteria are considered 
relatively small compared to the suppression of vegetation from 
maintenance throughout the entire flood control system.
    In summary, maintenance of the existing levee and flood protection 
facilities, ongoing projects, and potential future flood control 
activities or projects may include direct impacts in the form of 
temporary or permanent losses of existing riparian vegetation 
(including any associated elderberry shrubs and valley elderberry 
longhorn beetles). In some cases, there may also be permanent loss of 
riparian vegetation

[[Page 60254]]

from placement of hard rock bank protection that also precludes future 
restoration of beetle habitat. However, various interim measures are 
currently in place (i.e., the Framework document and its associated 
criteria) that limit further losses of riparian vegetation across the 
subspecies' range until the CVFPP is completed in 2012.
    Flood control elements dominate the river systems that encompass 
most of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle's range in the Central 
Valley proper, measuring in the hundreds of miles and millions of 
linear feet of river bank. It is our judgment that the effect of flood 
control and associated land-uses resulting from this flood control on 
the beetle has been significant at certain localities in terms of 
habitat quantity, spatial distribution, and connectivity. Despite the 
increased number of occurrences of the subspecies and its larger range 
than was previously known, this range encompasses a number of other 
maintained floodways for which protections of beetle habitat have not 
been established. Levee and flood protection activities (both 
maintenance and new construction) remain an ongoing threat at some of 
the largest beetle locations or major portions thereof (such as the 
Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers). Maintenance of these floodways can 
conflict with the recovery need to establish or protect riparian 
vegetation. Further, this maintenance can preclude opportunities to 
establish greater connectivity between beetle populations. Finalization 
of the CVFPP, the PGL, and implementation of the ETL will influence the 
nature and magnitude of impacts to riparian vegetation from flood 
control activities and the locations and size of potential riparian 
restoration throughout Central Valley streams and floodways.
Road Maintenance and Dust
    The Recovery Plan for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, 
section 7 biological opinions, and research results have identified 
roads and trail maintenance, and potentially dust, as threats capable 
of lowering the quality of valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat 
(Service 1984, p. 41; Service 2002, p. 3; Huxel et al. 2003, p. 458). 
Machinery used in road maintenance activities can crush nearby 
elderberry shrubs, or stress them by compacting soil and raising dust. 
When dust is at moderate levels (defined as the amount occurring as a 
result of heavy vehicle traffic), it does not directly or indirectly 
affect the occupancy of shrubs by the beetle, although research results 
show a weak correlation with elderberry shrub stress symptoms (Talley 
et al. 2006b, p. 653). In contrast to this weak correlation, Talley et 
al. (2006b, p. 647) also found that the distribution of elderberry 
shrubs along the American River Parkway was not negatively affected by 
the proximity to dirt surfaces, and that the presence of the beetle was 
neither positively nor negatively affected by the low amount of dust 
produced by normal parkway use. Currently available data indicate that 
road and trail maintenance activities are evident at only five 
locations in the north and south Central Valleys (including the Feather 
River, Lower American River, Upper American River vicinity, Kern River, 
and Caliente Creek).
    There is no evidence to suggest that the proximity of conservation 
sites adjacent to dirt or paved trails and low-traffic roadways results 
in detrimental effects to the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or its 
habitat, as long as dust levels do not exceed the low levels found in 
the study (Talley et al. 2006b, p. 655). Although a rangewide study on 
the effects of dust has not been conducted, the amount of dust-causing 
traffic adjacent to beetle habitat elsewhere in the range of the beetle 
is expected to be low and occur only intermittently.
Climate Change
    Consideration of climate change is a component of our analyses 
under the Act. In general terms, ``climate'' refers to the mean and 
variability of various weather conditions such as temperature or 
precipitation, over a long period of time (e.g. decades, centuries, or 
thousands of years). The term ``climate change'' thus refers to a 
change in the state of the climate (whether due to natural variability, 
human activity, or both) that can be identified by changes in the mean 
or variability of its properties and that persists for an extended 
period--typically decades or longer (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change (IPCC) 2007a, p. 78).
    Changes in climate are occurring. The global mean surface air 
temperature is the most widely used measure of climate change, and 
based on extensive analyses, the IPCC concluded that warming of the 
global climate system over the past several decades is ``unequivocal'' 
(IPCC 2007a, p. 2). Other examples of climate change include 
substantial increases in precipitation in some regions of the world and 
decreases in other regions (for these and other examples, see IPCC 
2007a, p. 30; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35-54, 82-85). Various 
environmental changes are occurring in association with changes in 
climate (for global and regional examples, see IPCC 2007a, pp. 2-4, 30-
33; for U.S. examples, see Global Climate Change Impacts in the United 
States by Karl et al. 2009, pp. 27, 79-88).
    Most of the observed increase in global average temperature since 
the mid-20th century cannot be explained by natural variability in 
climate, and is very likely due to the observed increase in greenhouse 
gas concentrations in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, 
particularly emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use (IPCC 
2007a, p. 5 and Figure SPM.3; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 21-35). 
Therefore, to project future changes in temperature and other climate 
conditions, scientists use a variety of climate models (which include 
consideration of natural processes and variability) in conjunction with 
various scenarios of potential levels and timing of greenhouse gas 
emissions (such as Meehl et al. 2007 entire; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 
11555, 15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 529).
    The projected magnitude of average global warming for this century 
is very similar under all combinations of models and emissions 
scenarios until about 2030. Thereafter, the projections show greater 
divergence across scenarios. Despite these differences in projected 
magnitude, however, the overall trajectory is one of increased warming 
throughout this century under all scenarios, including those which 
assume a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (Meehl et al. 2007, pp. 
760-764; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 15555-15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 
527, 529). Some of the IPCC's other key global climate projections, 
which they expressed using a framework for treatment of uncertainties 
(such as ``very likely'' is greater than 90 percent probability; see 
Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 22-23) include the following: (1) It is 
virtually certain there will be warmer and more frequent hot days and 
nights over most of the earth's land areas; (2) it is very likely there 
will be increased frequency of warm spells and heat waves over most 
land areas; (3) it is very likely that the frequency of heavy 
precipitation events, or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy 
falls, will increase over most areas; and (4) it is likely the area 
affected by droughts will increase, that intense tropical cyclone 
activity will increase, and that there will be increased incidence of 
extreme high sea level (IPCC 2007b, p. 8, Table SPM.2).
    Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect 
effects on species, and these may be positive or

[[Page 60255]]

negative depending on the species and other relevant considerations, 
including interacting effects with habitat fragmentation or other non-
climate variables (such as Franco et al. 2006; Forister et al. 2010; 
Galbraith et al. 2010; Chen et al. 2011). Scientists are projecting 
possible impacts and responses of ecological systems, habitat 
conditions, groups of species, and individual species related to 
changes in climate (such as Deutsch et al. 2008; Berg et al. 2009; 
Euskirchen et al. 2009; McKechnie and Wolf 2009; Sinervo et al. 2010; 
Beaumont et al. 2011). These and many other studies generally entail 
consideration of information regarding the following three main 
components of vulnerability to climate change: exposure to changes in 
climate, sensitivity to such changes, and adaptive capacity (IPCC 2007, 
p. 89; Glick et al. 2011, pp. 19-22). Because aspects of these 
components can vary by species and situation, as can interactions among 
climate and non-climate conditions, there is no single way to conduct 
our analyses. We use the best scientific and commercial data available 
to identify potential impacts and responses by species that may arise 
in association with different components of climate change, including 
interactions with non-climate conditions as appropriate.
    Projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary 
substantially across and within different regions of the world (such as 
IPCC 2007a, pp. 8-12). Thus, although global climate projections are 
informative and in some cases are the only or the best scientific 
information available, to the extent possible we use ``downscaled'' 
climate projections, which provide higher-resolution information that 
is more relevant to the spatial scales used to assess impacts to a 
given species (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61 for a discussion of 
downscaling). With regard to our analysis for the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle, downscaled projections of climate in California are 
available.
    Global climate change may have significant effects on plant species 
distributions in California over the next 100 years (Loarie et al. 
2008, pp. 1, 3-5), and thus has the potential to negatively impact the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Likely direct impacts of climate 
change in the region over that timeframe include an increase in annual 
mean temperatures ranging from 3.1 to 4.3 degrees Centigrade (C) (5.5 
to 7.8 degrees Fahrenheit (F)) under assumptions geared to produce 
medium-level warming scenarios (Cayan et al. 2006, p. 38). However, one 
of the elderberry species on which the beetle depends (Sambucus 
mexicana) is well adapted to warm temperatures, and extends its range 
into southern California and northern Mexico (Crane 1989, p. 2; 
Dempster 1993, p. 3). Higher temperatures are also not expected to 
produce large changes in total precipitation in California (Cayan et 
al. 2006, p. 39), although more precipitation is expected to fall in 
the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains as rain rather than snow, thereby 
lessening summer water availability in snowpack-dominated watersheds 
(Kapnick and Hall 2010, pp. 3446, 3448, 3454; van Mantgem et al. 2009, 
p. 523). Effects of climate change on the beetle, other than on habitat 
and plant species distribution, are mentioned below (Factor E).
    Average temperatures have been rising in the Central Valley of 
California, and this trend will likely continue because of climate 
change. Climate change may also affect precipitation and the severity, 
duration, or periodicity of drought. However, there is a great deal of 
uncertainty as to the rate at which the average temperature may 
increase, and the effect of climate change on both precipitation and 
drought. In addition to the uncertainty associated with how the overall 
climate of the Central Valley may change, the impact of climate change 
on the valley elderberry longhorn beetle will depend on a complex array 
of other factors, including how the subspecies and its habitat respond 
to climate change. We know that one of the elderberry species on which 
the beetle depends is well adapted to warm temperatures, and extends 
its range into southern California and northern Mexico. We are not 
aware of information that would allow us to make a meaningful 
prediction that potential changes in temperature and precipitation 
patterns would significantly affect elderberry growth, or whether such 
changes may cause shifts in the timing of elderberry flowering relative 
to beetle emergence, or affect the relationship of these two species in 
any other way.
Conservation--Habitat Restoration and Protection

Estimates of Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle Conserved Areas

Former Estimate
    The amount of riparian vegetation and associated beetle habitat 
considered conserved has been revised since our 5-year review (Service 
2006a). According to the estimate used in our 5-year review, since the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle was listed in 1980, approximately 
45,000 ac (18,211 ha) of existing riparian vegetation had been acquired 
or protected (Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 46-47), which is approximately 
34 percent of the 132,586 ac (53,656 ha) of riparian vegetation 
estimated to remain in the Central Valley in 2003 (Geographic 
Information Center 2003). This estimate did not include the American 
River Parkway, much of which was considered protected at the time of 
listing, nor does it include protected areas established in accordance 
with the Service's guidelines under section 7 consultations (Service 
1996, pp. 3, 4; Service 1999a, pp. 3, 4).
    The estimate of 45,000 ac (18,211 ha) of acquired or protected 
habitat includes 6,600 ac (2,671 ha) of land in the San Joaquin River 
NWR, and assumes these lands could support the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle under favorable management (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 
47). However, most of the Refuge acreage is low in elevation and 
subject to flooding for longer periods than elderberry shrubs can 
survive (Griggs 2007, pers. comm.). As discussed below, numerous 
recently planted elderberry shrubs within this portion of the San 
Joaquin River NWR died due to flooding in 2006. Only about 120 ac (49 
ha) of the 6,600 ac (2,671 ha) of the San Joaquin River NWR mentioned 
by Talley et al. (2006a, p. 47) are likely capable of supporting the 
beetle.
    Some existing areas that are protected and currently provide a 
benefit to the valley elderberry longhorn beetle were not yet 
established at the time that Talley et al. (2006a, Table 2.3.1.1, p. 
47) conducted an analysis of acquired or protected beetle habitat. For 
example, the Kern River Preserve (1,000 ac (405 ha)) was not yet 
established. Additionally, other currently protected areas acquired 
prior to listing were outside the known range of the beetle at the time 
of listing, such as the Bobelaine, Feather River Wildlife Area (2,900 
ac (1,174 ha)). Other significant areas mentioned in Table 2.3.1.1 of 
Talley et al. (2006a, p. 47) could have some benefit to the beetle in a 
portion of the sites due to the mosaic of habitat types that are known 
to occur between wetland and upland areas (such as at the Consumnes 
River Preserve, 5,500 ac (2,226 ha)). Finally, the table did not 
specify areas where the beetle would benefit from conservation 
easements of 23+ mi (37+ km) of river frontage. In its proper context, 
Table 2.3.1.1 in Talley et al. (2006a, p. 47) was never intended as an 
estimate of protected beetle habitat, but rather, a list of some of the 
major habitat acquisition and protection efforts in the Central Valley 
that

[[Page 60256]]

contained some component of riparian vegetation with potential to 
benefit the beetle (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 46). Based on this 
interpretation, we do not use--or discuss--the 45,000-ac (18,211-ha) 
figure further in this proposed rule.
Current Estimate
    For this proposed rule, we constructed a GIS database from several 
sources to provide a range of estimates of the current amount and 
distribution of protected riparian vegetation (which may or may not 
contain elderberry shrubs) in the range of the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle, and the amount of beetle habitat restored or created. 
For reference and as stated previously in the ``Lost Historical Range'' 
section, 132,586 ac (53,656 ha) of riparian vegetation remained across 
the Central Valley in 2003 (Geographic Information Center 2003). 
Current range estimates are as follows:
    (1) Protected Riparian Vegetation--Areas of land within the range 
of the beetle that is either subject to a conservation easement, is 
riparian land managed and held in fee by CDFG, or public land known to 
be managed for conservation (such as Cosumnes River Preserve). The 
amount of such protected riparian vegetation is 21,536 ac (8,715 ha). 
We used a GIS-layer of riparian vegetation from the Department of Water 
Resources to obtain this estimate.
    (2) Restored Riparian Vegetation--Areas of predominantly Federal 
and State lands of any riparian type, including both beetle habitat and 
general riparian combined (approximately 13,000 ac (5,261 ha)).
    (3) Restored Beetle Habitat--Areas with elderberry plantings and 
partially overlapping restoration lands where these have been planted, 
including various mitigation banks and excluding approximately 1,600 ac 
(648 ha) not yet planted. This estimate is approximately 12,400 ac 
(5,018 ha).
    Each of these estimates should be interpreted with caution. The 
riparian vegetation GIS layer may include areas too wet for elderberry 
to grow, and may exclude small fragments, or some adjacent lands, where 
elderberry or other riparian could potentially grow. For the elderberry 
plantings total (with the exception of transplantings and plantings 
near occurrences), some elderberry has been planted too recently to 
expect the plants to be occupied by the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle because occupancy increases as a function of time, particularly 
after 7 years (River Partners 2004a, p. 4). Some restoration has not 
been successful as noted above, and some is within mitigation banks 
intended to offset losses of beetle habitat elsewhere. Finally, there 
is significant, albeit incomplete, overlap among these riparian 
vegetation estimates.

Discussion of Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle Conserved Areas

    Eight agencies and private organizations have completed 26 projects 
to enhance or restore 4,950 ac (2,003 ha) by planting elderberry 
(Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 46-49). Most of these elderberry-specific 
restoration efforts are located within already protected riparian 
vegetation discussed above.
    The largest effort to protect and restore beetle habitat (through 
elderberry plantings) is that at the Sacramento River NWR. Valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle habitat on this refuge currently totals more 
than 2,400 ac (974 ha). The Sacramento River NWR was established in 
1989, with a focus on conserving the beetle as well as other native 
riparian species (Service 2006a, p. 9). Over 100,000 elderberry 
seedlings or transplanted shrubs have been planted at the refuge 
(Talley et al. 2006a, p. 51). If any significant number of elderberry 
shrubs were lost at this Refuge, they would be replanted as described 
in the Sacramento River NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP), 
which identifies conservation of the beetle as one of its management 
goals (Service 2005, pp. 1-37). These areas are considered fully 
protected.
    Unfortunately, in 2006, elderberry shrubs that had been planted on 
approximately 765 ac (310 ha) in the San Joaquin River NWR and 35 ac 
(14 ha) in the Mohler Tract of the Stanislaus River died due to 
flooding (Griggs 2007, pers. comm.; River Partners 2007, p. 47). The 
San Joaquin River NWR responded by planting elderberry on about 120 ac 
(49 ha) of higher elevation land. Additionally, drought at the San Luis 
and Merced National Wildlife Refuges killed all but about 100 
elderberry shrubs out of the 250 ac (101 ha) planted at those sites 
(Woolington 2007, pers. comm.). The remaining total areas of restored 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat (roughly 4,000 ac (1,619 ha), 
or the total restored acreage (4,950 ac) (2,003 ha)), less the 765 ac 
(310 ha) on San Joaquin NWR and 250 ac (101 ha) at San Luis/Merced NWR, 
are likely to remain viable for the beetle into the foreseeable future, 
as evidenced by the fact that the elderberry shrubs survived the 
flooding and droughts discussed above.
    Seven agencies and private organizations have completed, or are 
completing, 19 projects restoring or enhancing riparian vegetation 
totaling approximately 1,592 ac (644 ha), but no elderberry are being 
planted at these sites (Talley et al. 2006a, pp. 48-51). Over time, 
elderberry shrubs should naturally colonize riparian sites, as 
elderberry seeds are dispersed by many bird species that nest, forage, 
or transit riparian areas. A number of these restoration and 
enhancement projects (River Partners 2003, p. 4; 2004b, p. 4) may 
provide incidental benefits to the valley elderberry longhorn beetle by 
encouraging natural elderberry colonization of restored areas (Howe and 
Smallwood 1982, p. 216; NRCS 2006, p. 4).
    Currently, of the 26 known locations of valley elderberry longhorn 
beetles, 4 include a significant component of well-protected lands with 
known beetle habitat mainly as State or Federal wildlife areas (Bear 
River, Cosumnes River, Feather River, Sacramento River), and portions 
of 6 others contain some well-protected lands (Stony Creek, Big Chico 
Creek, Butte Creek, Tuolumne River, Kaweah River, and San Joaquin 
River). The extent of protection and success as beetle habitat along 
the San Joaquin River is somewhat less than the others. Seven locations 
(Lower American River, Big Chico Creek, Putah Creek, Lower Stanislaus 
River, Kings River, Upper Stanislaus Hills, and portion of the Kaweah 
River upstream of Lake Isabella) are managed for natural and open space 
values, or are partially on city parks and Forest Service lands, where 
the land and management status protects against urban development, but 
with no specific protections for the beetle or elderberry shrubs in 
particular. The remaining locations or portions of the remaining 
locations are on lands without protections or are not known to have 
protections, some of which are private lands or designated floodways 
that may experience activities that affect elderberries (primarily 
through vegetation suppression from bank protection and vegetation 
removal on levees and within floodway channels). This includes (but is 
not limited to) some sections of the Sacramento River from Colusa to 
the American River confluence, portions of Big Chico and Butte Creeks, 
parts of the Feather, American, and Bear Rivers, Thomes Creek, Yuba 
River, former portions of Ulatis Creek (now a flood channel), Cache 
Creek, Upper Stanislaus Hills, the Calaveras River-Stockton Diverting 
Canal, Mokelumne-Bear Rivers, Merced River, Kings River, Tule River-
Deer Creek, Kern River, and Caliente Creek.
    Some locations (or portions thereof) on private lands throughout 
the Central Valley, despite lack of formal protections, are deemed less 
likely to be impacted due to the remote or rural

[[Page 60257]]

nature of the locations, or sometimes topography, that currently limits 
the threats of agriculture and urban development. The potential of 
future threat at these private ownership locations is unknown. These 
less threatened private areas include: Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks, 
Cache and Putah Creeks, portions of the Mokelumne and Calaveras Rivers, 
the Kaweah River upstream of Lake Isabella, Upper Stanislaus Hills, 
portions of the upper American River vicinity (i.e., between the north 
and south forks, but not northwest), and Caliente Creek. Of these, the 
Mokelumne location has a safe harbor agreement with limited 
participation at this time. It should be noted that the threat of 
habitat loss from development in these areas, while reduced, is not 
necessarily eliminated, and it is reasonable to anticipate some future 
loss. Some habitat losses have occurred in some of these remote sites, 
such as Upper Stanislaus Hills, and Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks, due to 
recent light residential or ranchette development.
    In the south Central Valley, the occupied locations immediately 
south of Sacramento to Stanislaus County have a good potential to 
support populations of valley elderberry longhorn beetles; however, 
there are limited protections for this existing habitat. For example, 
the Cosumnes River Preserve covers only a portion (perhaps 20 percent 
of its length) of the Cosumnes River, but beetle records and habitat 
are largely outside of the Preserve. Much of the riparian area along 
the Cosumnes, Mokelumne, and Stanislaus Rivers, which appears on aerial 
photos as intact riparian vegetation, is privately owned and to our 
knowledge does not have protection. Additionally, most locations in the 
southern portion of the subspecies' range (as compared to the north 
Central Valley) harbor fewer occurrences in general, and display lower 
quality riparian vegetation (both major rivers and tributaries, 
particularly on the valley floor). Therefore, persistence and 
conservation of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle in the central 
and especially the northern portion of its range may provide more 
consistent support of the subspecies as a whole, both currently and in 
the foreseeable future. The likelihood of persistence of the subspecies 
is considered fair, average, or good at all south Central Valley 
locations with the exception of three locations that are uncertain due 
to lower quality beetle habitat and absence of protections as compared 
to the north Central Valley. Additionally, in some south Central Valley 
areas where there is protected beetle habitat (Kings and San Joaquin 
Rivers), the subspecies has not been observed despite recent surveys.
    Examples of protected lands in the southern Central Valley include 
about 5,500 ac (2,226 ha) of floodplain habitat suitable for the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle in the Cosumnes River Preserve (Talley et 
al. 2006a, p. 47) and the San Joaquin River Parkway, which is being 
built in Fresno and Madera Counties as a result of Federal, State, and 
local efforts, including efforts at the San Joaquin NWR. As of May 
2008, the San Joaquin River Parkway project has protected approximately 
2,218 ac (898 ha) of riparian lands from future development (San 
Joaquin River Conservancy 2008, p. 1). Protected parkway land currently 
includes the entirety of one known beetle occurrence and overlaps the 
southern edge of a second (Greeninfo Trust 2007, p. 1; CNDDB 2010a, pp. 
118, 119).

Conservation Through Section 7 Consultations and Section 10 Habitat 
Conservation Plans

    The Service has developed conservation guidelines to promote 
restoration and protection of valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat 
(USFWS 1996, 1999a). Subsequent to the development of these guidelines, 
proponents of projects resulting in authorized habitat loss often 
conduct habitat restoration for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
as an impact minimization measure (Service 1996 pp. 3, 4; Service 
1999a, pp. 3, 4). Since the 1996 and revised 1999 guidelines were 
implemented, the number of restoration and protection actions for 
beetle habitat has dramatically increased. As described above under the 
``Agricultural and Urban Development'' section, we reviewed Federal 
projects for which we conducted section 7 consultations for the beetle 
between 1983 and 2006. We determined that the total amount of 
incidental take authorized amounted to roughly 10,000 to 20,000 ac 
(4,047 to 8,094 ha) of riparian vegetation, with actual acres lost an 
unknown amount less due to projects that were not implemented, and 
thus, for which habitat loss did not occur (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 
34); however, this acreage range does not account for the conservation 
(such as restoration or protection of beetle habitat) that occurred as 
a result of these projects. Our files indicate that as a result of the 
conservation guidelines, project proponents established agreements to 
restore and protect (through conservation easements in perpetuity) 
approximately 400 to 1,900 ac (162 to 769 ha) of beetle habitat 
(estimated based on extrapolations of relatively limited data) (Service 
2006a, p. 7) in association with section 7 consultation activities. 
This habitat restoration and protection is in addition to conservation 
efforts unassociated with incidental take (see following paragraphs in 
this section).
    The habitat restoration and protection agreements established under 
the guidelines require planting and maintenance of roughly 3.5 new 
elderberry shoots on protected land for every elderberry stem 1 in. 
(2.5 cm) in diameter or greater that is removed (Talley et al. 2006a, 
p. 29). They also include requirements that would result in 
approximately 76 percent of elderberry shrubs being transplanted rather 
than destroyed by a project. Elderberry shrub transplants have resulted 
in successful colonizations at 88 percent of the sites to which shrubs 
potentially containing beetle larvae were transplanted (Holyoak et al. 
2010, p. 49).
    The degree of success of the conservation guidelines (as discussed 
above) has been difficult to measure because many of the required 
monitoring reports were unavailable to the Service and Talley et al. 
(2006a, p. 29). However, based on best estimates from available 
reports, the conservation measures agreed to by project proponents may 
have offset the loss of elderberry shrubs caused by their projects, and 
even resulted in a net gain of shrubs (Holyoak et al. 2010, p. 51). 
Valley elderberry longhorn beetles were present at approximately 47 
percent of pre-impact sites (based on recent exit holes), and have 
colonized approximately 43 percent of the restored and protected sites 
established as a result of consultations under section 7 of the Act 
(Holyoak et al. 2010, pp. 49, 50). Establishment of additional sites 
specifically designed to compensate for take of the beetle would cease 
if the beetle is delisted, but existing protected sites established 
under these agreements would continue to remain in place following 
delisting of the beetle, and compensation for riparian vegetation 
losses could likely continue in some circumstances.
    Valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat has also been protected 
or restored through the provisions of section 10 of the Act. Habitat 
conservation plans prepared for the beetle to offset the effects of a 
project, through some combination of habitat restoration and protection 
transplanting of occupied elderberry shrubs to a protected location, 
are accompanied by

[[Page 60258]]

a management plan that benefits the beetle. Twenty incidental take 
permits have been issued, totaling roughly 5,353 ac (2,166 ha) of 
incidental take authorized; the majority of these minimally impacted 
the beetle or its habitat.
    Five conservation banks containing protected beetle habitat have 
been authorized to sell credits for the beetle as needed for project 
impacts associated with either section 7 or 10 of the Act. These banks 
protect approximately 242 ac (98 ha) of existing, restored, or created 
habitat for the beetle in Placer, Shasta, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and 
Yolo Counties (Talley 2006a, p. 55). A sixth bank in Yolo County 
supports some elderberry shrubs, but is not authorized to sell credits 
for the beetle.
    Since 1996, our conservation and mitigation guidelines under 
sections 7 and 10 of the Act have required project proponents to 
establish preserves and conservation easements for the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle to minimize the impacts of projects that may 
incidentally take beetles (Service 1996, p. 6; Service 1999a, p. 6). 
These protected areas of habitat total approximately 642 to 1,900 ac 
(260 to 769 ha), which are in addition to areas that have been restored 
for the beetle, all of which is described in further detail under the 
``Current Estimate'' section above.
Summary of Factor A
    Since the mid-1800s, riparian vegetation has been impacted 
throughout the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys as a result of 
agricultural and urban development, and associated flood control 
activities. At the time of listing, habitat loss was identified as one 
of the most significant threats to the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle (45 FR 52805, August 8, 1980; Eng 1984, pp. 916-917). These 
impacts are expected to continue to affect the beetle as a result of 
some additional riparian vegetation (and specifically beetle habitat) 
loss across the subspecies' range. Cumulatively, this riparian 
vegetation loss and associated beetle habitat loss may limit the 
overall amount of beetle habitat, and in some cases cause the loss of 
connectivity between beetle locations. However, when examining the 
potential rangewide impacts across the subspecies' known current range 
that is now known to be greater in size than at the time of listing, we 
believe that those impacts are of a lower magnitude to the subspecies 
as a whole due to there being significantly more locations known today 
(26 locations), including protected areas, as compared to the level of 
impacts affecting the 3 locations known at the time of listing.
    Agricultural and urban development (including activities that 
impact vegetation that grows along existing irrigation channels, 
levees, etc.) throughout much of the range of the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle is likely to continue to have some effect on the 
subspecies and its habitat.
    The flood protection system throughout the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle's range is fairly extensive, impacting most of the 
rivers or creeks where beetle occurrences are known. Many dams or other 
flood protection facilities (such as levees) predate listing of the 
beetle, but require ongoing maintenance or improvements currently and 
into the future, such as improvement projects completed through the 
Corps. Construction and maintenance of these flood protection and 
associated reservoir flood control facilities have resulted in direct 
losses of riparian vegetation within project impact areas, and indirect 
impacts in surrounding riparian vegetation areas, due to agricultural 
and urban development resulting from flood protection.
    Although ongoing and future maintenance of levees, channels, and 
other facilities will likely result in future losses of valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle habitat at some locations, these impacts are 
currently limited by interim protection measures. The Corps has 
established a procedure for seeking a variance from the ETL (which can 
result in vegetation-free zones within riparian areas when 
implemented). Variances may be issued to provide opportunities for 
beetle habitat to remain. Also, the California's Central Valley Flood 
System Improvement Framework document is under development. Until this 
is finalized in 2012, interim criteria are being implemented that 
provide protection measures for beetle habitat. As a result of the 
Framework document and interim criteria, impacts to remaining beetle 
habitat along the majority of levees throughout the subspecies' range 
are likely to be insignificant in the near term. However, long-term 
effects are unknown as implementation of the ETL and variance process 
have not yet been finalized.
    The Recovery Plan for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, 
section 7 biological opinions, and research results have identified 
road or trail maintenance, and potentially dust, as threats capable of 
lowering the quality of valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat 
(Service 1984, p. 41; Service 2002, p. 3; Huxel et al. 2003, p. 458). 
However, recent studies have determined that as long as dust levels 
remain low, neither road maintenance, trail maintenance, nor dust 
appear to harm beetle populations or elderberry shrubs.
    Although an unknown amount of habitat for the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle has been lost since the time of listing, we now know 
that the range of the beetle is larger than was previously known. About 
21,536 ac (8,715 ha) of lands containing riparian vegetation have been 
preserved, enhanced, or restored by many agencies and organizations 
across the subspecies' current range. This is a fraction of the roughly 
132,586 ac (53,656 ha) of riparian vegetation (not necessarily all 
containing elderberry shrubs) estimated to remain in the Central Valley 
in 2003 (our most recent estimate) (Geographic Information Center 2003, 
p. 14). These estimates include approximately 18,000 ac (7,284 ha) of 
Central Valley Joint Venture conservation easements, approximately 
13,000 ac (5,261 ha) of restoration lands predominantly on Federal and 
State areas, and approximately 12,400 ac (5,018 ha) of lands with 
elderberry plantings (the latter of which partially overlaps 
restoration lands, such as mitigation banks, and excludes approximately 
1,600 ac (648 ha) that has not yet been planted). We note that each of 
these estimates should be interpreted with caution; only a portion of 
these conservation easements or restoration lands actually support 
riparian vegetation that could contain elderberry, or are dedicated 
specifically to elderberry plantings.
    Habitat and valley elderberry longhorn beetle protection measures 
are also associated with section 7 consultations and mitigation 
occurring as a result of section 10 habitat conservation plans. Since 
the 1996 and revised 1999 guidelines were implemented, the number of 
restoration and protection actions that have occurred to benefit the 
beetle have dramatically increased. To date, project proponents have 
restored and protected (through conservation easements in perpetuity) 
approximately 642 to 1,900 ac (260 to 769 ha) of beetle habitat.
    Finally, another large protected riparian area that provides 
habitat for the beetle is the 4,600-ac (1,862-ha) American River 
Parkway (Parkway) in Sacramento County, which includes important 
habitat for the beetle, part of which was designated critical habitat 
(45 FR 52803; August 8, 1980) (see Recovery Planning and 
Implementation, ``Primary Interim Objective 1'' above).

[[Page 60259]]

    There is uncertainty as to the effect of climate change on 
precipitation and the severity, duration, or periodicity of drought in 
the Central Valley. The impact of climate change on the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle will depend on many factors, including how 
the subspecies and its habitat respond to such change. We are not aware 
of information that would allow us to make a meaningful prediction that 
potential changes in temperature and precipitation patterns would 
significantly affect elderberry growth.
    Overall, we consider the current and future impacts of habitat loss 
on the valley elderberry longhorn beetle to be different today than at 
the time of listing. There are a greater number of locations within the 
range of the subspecies (26 locations) known now compared to the time 
of listing (3 locations), and there have been conservation actions and 
protections at portions of those additional locations. Of the 26 known 
locations, all or portions of 10 are on State or Federal wildlife areas 
or other areas under conservation easement, and all or portions of 6 
are partially on city parks or Forest Service lands, where the 
particular threat of habitat loss is reduced, but other threats from 
human use remain. All or portions of 7 other locations throughout the 
Central Valley include private lands where (despite lack of formal 
protections) threats are presently reduced due to their remote or rural 
nature, or due to topography that limits the more pervasive threats of 
agricultural and urban development. The majority of locations contain 
some lands without protections, some of which are private or designated 
as floodways that could experience activities that affect beetle 
habitat. These unprotected locations encompass most of the range of the 
subspecies, including riparian zones in major drainages. Therefore, we 
conclude that agricultural and urban development, levees, and flood 
control protection remain threats to the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle now, and likely into the future, although these threats are not 
considered significant when taken within the context of the increased 
number of occurrences known today as compared to the time of listing.

Factor B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Collecting all species of longhorn beetles is popular among amateur 
entomologists. However, we are not aware of any evidence that 
commercial use or private trade of the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle has been, or is, a threat. We did not identify collecting or 
overutilization for any purpose as a threat to the beetle in the final 
listing rule or the Recovery Plan. Therefore, based on our review of 
the available scientific and commercial information, overutilization 
for any purpose is not currently considered a threat, and is not 
anticipated to emerge as a threat in the future.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    At the time of listing in 1980, we did not consider disease or 
predation as significant threats to the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle. Given the available scientific and commercial information on 
the beetle, disease is not considered a threat. Since listing, however, 
several insect predators have been identified as potential threats to 
the beetle.
Predation
    The invasive, nonnative Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) has been 
identified as a potential threat to the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle (Huxel 2000, pp. 83-84). This ant is both an aggressive 
competitor with, and predator on, several species of native fauna, and 
is spreading throughout California riparian areas and displacing 
assemblages of native arthropods (Ward 1987, pp. 10-15; Holway 1995, 
pp. 1634-1637; Human and Gordon 1997, pp. 1243-1247; Holway 1998, pp. 
254-257). The best available data indicate that Argentine ants are 
evident at approximately five locations in the north Central Valley 
(i.e., Sacramento River-Redding to Red Bluff, Sacramento River Red 
Bluff to Chico, Feather River, Lower American River, and Putah Creek) 
and 3 locations in the south Central Valley (i.e., Lower Stanislaus 
River, Merced River, and Tule River-Deer Creek).
    The Argentine ant requires moisture, and may thrive in riparian or 
irrigated areas (Holway and Suarez 2006, p. 321). A negative 
association between the presence of the ant and valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle exit holes was observed along Putah Creek in Yolo and 
Solano Counties in 1997, causing the author to conclude that the spread 
of Argentine ants along permanent streams would likely have a 
significant impact on the long-term persistence of the beetle (Huxel 
2000, pp. 83-84). Although Huxel's (2000) survey did not distinguish 
whether the observed negative association is due to direct effects of 
the ant on the beetle, or simply a result of different habitat 
preferences between the two species, a follow-up study (Klasson et al. 
2005, pp. 7, 8) found that Argentine ants tend to co-occur with the 
beetle on elderberry shrubs, and noted this was likely because both are 
attracted to the habitat provided by the shrub. The authors concluded 
that there were likely to be threshold densities of Argentine ants 
below which beetle populations could remain relatively unaffected, but 
they did not suggest what those densities might be. However, they did 
note that impact minimization and mitigation sites established for the 
beetle tended to have the highest densities of Argentine ants. It is 
possible that the ants may be imported on seedlings from nurseries, 
with irrigation of these impact minimization or mitigation areas 
potentially providing a dependable moisture source for the ant 
colonies.
    A recently submitted preliminary report for a survey conducted 12 
years after the survey reported by Huxel (2000) found that the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle does continue to occupy at least three of 
six locations along Putah Creek (Holyoak and Graves 2010, p. 23). The 
same preliminary report suggests that the average number of recent 
beetle exit holes per elderberry shrub is lower for shrubs with 
Argentine ants (Holyoak and Graves 2010, p. 17). The authors did not 
conclude that this apparent difference was statistically significant, 
however, and noted that because the beetle is found at such low 
densities, sampling must be extensive to statistically confirm 
population declines as serious as 50 percent or higher (Holyoak and 
Graves 2010, p. 20). The study found Argentine ants to be present on 13 
percent of shrubs overall, and present in 7 of 10 watersheds sampled 
from across the range of the beetle (Putah Creek, and American, 
Feather, Sacramento, Merced, Stanislaus, and Tule Rivers; Holyoak and 
Graves 2010, p. 16). This aggressive ant may potentially interfere with 
adult mating or feeding behavior, or prey on larvae (Way et al. 1992, 
pp. 427-431), but predation on eggs would be the most likely impact 
(Huxel et al. 2003, p. 459). In Portugal, Argentine ants have become 
significant predators on the eggs of another cerambycid beetle, the 
eucalyptus borer (Phoracantha semipunctata), which has a similar life 
history to the valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Huxel et al. 2003, p. 
459).
    Invasive ants, including the argentine ants specifically, can cause 
severe ecological impacts, including documented threats to many other 
listed invertebrate species in the United States (Wagner and van 
Driesche 2010, p. 555). It is possible that the lack of demonstrated 
predation impact on the valley elderberry longhorn beetle could be due 
to small sample size, and similar

[[Page 60260]]

effects of nonnative ants on other species indicate that some effect on 
the beetle cannot be ruled out. However, based on our review of the 
best available information, particularly the co-occurrence of Argentine 
ants (and other ant species) and the beetle, we do not have sufficient 
information to demonstrate that such predation, if it occurs at all, 
constitutes a significant threat to the beetle.
    The European earwig (Forficula auricularia) is a scavenger and 
omnivore that is often found on elderberry shrubs, and may feed 
opportunistically on exposed valley elderberry longhorn beetle larvae 
(Klasson et al. 2005, p. 8). Earwigs require moisture, and Klasson et 
al. (2005, p. 8) considered their densities to be higher in impact 
minimization or mitigation sites, due to irrigation. However, this 
hypothesis was not tested statistically. Klasson et al. (2005, p. 8) 
suggested that elevated earwig densities at impact minimization or 
mitigation sites could contribute directly to increased predation on 
the beetle in those areas, and could also attract lizards that could 
further increase predation pressure; they noted that such ideas need to 
be tested further. Thus, we have no information to suggest that earwig 
predation or presence constitutes a specific threat to the beetle.
    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle is also likely prey of 
insectivorous birds. One study noted holes in elderberry stems created 
by foraging birds at nearly every site where beetle exit holes were 
found, suggesting that birds had been excavating holes to forage for 
beetle larvae in the pith (Lang et al. 1989, p. 246). The study also 
noted that beetle populations appeared to be limited at any one site by 
factors other than habitat availability, suggesting that predation by 
birds could be one such additional limiting factor (Lang et al. 1989, 
p. 246). However, we have no further information to indicate what level 
of impact, if any, bird predation imposes on beetle population levels.
Summary of Factor C
    We have no information to indicate that the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle is threatened by disease. The best available 
information indicates birds, lizards, European earwigs, and Argentine 
ants are potential predators of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. 
Although predation likely causes some mortality of individual eggs, 
larvae, or adult beetles, we have no data that support the premise that 
predation is adversely affecting the subspecies as a whole. Beetles 
have coexisted with Argentine ants at Putah Creek and the American 
River Parkway for over 10 years (Huxel 2000, p. 82; Holyoak and Graves 
2010, pp. 16, 17, 30), although possibly not without some decrease in 
average adult beetle population size, as measured by recent exit holes 
(Holyoak and Graves 2010, p. 17). The question of the extent to which 
predation by Argentine ants could be lowering adult beetle populations 
is potentially important because Argentine ants have been found in 7 of 
the 26 beetle locations, but existing evidence suggests that ants need 
to be present above some as yet unknown density threshold. Based on 
review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we 
do not consider disease or predation to be of such significance that it 
could threaten the continued existence of the beetle currently or in 
the future.

Factor D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    State and Federal laws provide some degree of protection for 
riparian vegetation and valley elderberry longhorn beetles, as 
discussed below. We did not research the extent to which county or city 
ordinances or regulations provide direct protection for the beetle, 
although the subspecies may benefit from some city and county open 
space designations that harbor beetle habitat. The beetle may also 
benefit from local impact minimization or mitigation plans for special 
status species that have been developed as part of city or county 
general plans. Conversely, other types of local zoning or changes in 
open space designations in the future could affect the beetle. For the 
purposes of this discussion, we assume that there are no local laws 
that provide protection for the subspecies.
State Laws
    The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) does not provide 
protection to insects (sections 2062, 2067, and 2068, California Fish 
and Game Code). The Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni) and bank swallow 
(Riparia riparia) are migratory birds listed as threatened under CESA 
that are known to seasonally inhabit riparian areas within the beetle's 
range. The CESA listing of these two bird species likely affords 
limited incidental protection to the beetle in instances where project 
proponents are encouraged to minimize habitat alteration associated 
with development activities. However, in general, neither the 
Swainson's hawk nor the bank swallow inhabit the Central Valley year 
round. Because the CESA prohibition against take does not generally 
include effects to a species resulting from loss of its habitat (there 
is no prohibition against ``harm'' under CESA as there is under the 
Act), project proponents may destroy the hawk's and swallow's habitat 
once the birds have migrated south for the winter. In this sense, 
protections afforded the valley elderberry longhorn beetle by the CESA 
listing of these two bird species are limited and temporary.
    The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires review of 
any project that is undertaken, funded, or permitted by the State or a 
local governmental agency. If significant effects are identified, the 
lead agency has the option of requiring mitigation through changes in 
the project or deciding that overriding considerations make mitigation 
infeasible (CEQA Sec. 21002). In the latter case, projects may be 
approved that cause significant environmental damage, such as 
destruction of wildlife species or their habitat. Species protection, 
including the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, through CEQA is 
therefore dependent upon the discretion of the lead agency.
    Section 1600 of the California Fish and Game Code authorizes CDFG 
to regulate streambed alteration. CDFG must be notified of, and 
approve, any work that substantially diverts, alters, or obstructs the 
natural flow or substantially changes the bed, channel, or banks of any 
river, stream, or lake. If an existing fish or wildlife resource could 
be substantially adversely affected by a project, CDFG must provide the 
project applicant with a draft agreement within 60 days to protect the 
species (section 1602 of the California Fish and Game Code). However, 
if CDFG does not submit such a draft agreement within the required 
time, the applicant may proceed with the work. Mitigation under a 
streambed alteration agreement is entirely voluntary by a project 
applicant; thus, such agreements are typically only provided to 
applicants when the mitigation activities they identify are compatible 
with other mitigation activities required by another type of permit.
    Section 815 of the California Civil Code establishes conservation 
easements as enforceable and perpetual interests in real property for 
purposes of retaining land in its natural state (Cal Civ Code, sections 
815-815.3). Conservation easements can only be held by nonprofit 
environmental organizations, State or local governmental entities, or 
Native American tribes (Cal Civ Code, section 815.3). Conservation 
easements have been used to protect land for the beetle in mitigation 
banks and under the terms of permits granted under sections 7 and 10 of 
the Act. Although sections 7 and

[[Page 60261]]

10 would no longer protect the valley elderberry longhorn beetle if the 
subspecies were to be delisted, those conservation easements currently 
in existence would continue in perpetuity.
Federal Protections
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.) may provide some protection for the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle to the degree its procedural requirements inform Federal agency 
decision-making. For activities undertaken, authorized, or funded by 
Federal agencies (activities with a Federal nexus), NEPA requires the 
lead agency to analyze the project for potential impacts to the human 
environment prior to implementation. If that analysis reveals 
significant environmental effects, the Federal agency includes a 
discussion of mitigation measures that could help offset those effects 
(40 CFR 1502.16). However, the agency need not actually implement the 
mitigation measures discussed. Agency actions potentially affecting the 
beetle and subject to NEPA review would include, but not be limited to, 
any Corps levee repair or restoration projects; activities affecting 
riparian vegetation conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau 
of Land Management, or the Environmental Protection Agency; and 
activities conducted by the Service within National Wildlife Refuges. 
In the event that the beetle is delisted, we do not anticipate 
substantial differences in NEPA review by Federal agencies.
    Under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA; 33 U.S.C. 1251 et 
seq.), the Corps regulates the discharge of dredge and fill material 
into waters of the United States, which include navigable waters and 
adjacent wetlands (33 U.S.C. 1344). In general, the term ``wetland'' 
refers to areas meeting the Corps criteria regarding soils, hydrology, 
and vegetation. Any action within the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle's habitat that has the potential to impact waters of the United 
States is reviewed by the Corps under the CWA for a permit 
determination. These reviews may require consideration of impacts to 
riparian species (including the valley elderberry longhorn beetle), as 
well as mitigation of significant impacts to fish and wildlife 
resources. To the extent riparian vegetation and consequently beetle 
habitat are associated with a CWA section 404 permitting action, 
mitigation for those effects could be provided.
    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (Pub. 
L. 105-57) establishes the protection of biodiversity as the primary 
purpose of the Service's National Wildlife Refuge System. This 
legislation lends support to various management actions to benefit the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle in refuges in the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin Valleys, as discussed under Factor A (see ``Conservation--
Habitat Restoration and Protection'' above). The Sacramento River NWR 
was established to conserve and manage up to 18,000 ac (7,284 ha) of 
riparian or floodplain vegetation from Red Bluff to Colusa in Tehama, 
Glenn, and Colusa Counties. The Sacramento River NWR CCP identifies 
conservation of the beetle as one of its management goals (Service 
2005, pp. 1-37). CCPs for the San Luis and Merced National Wildlife 
Refuges are not yet complete. The CCP for the San Joaquin River NWR 
calls for surveys for the beetle, but does not call for a management 
plan unless ``deemed necessary'' (Service 2006b, p. 64); however, the 
refuge is proceeding with conservation efforts for the beetle, as 
discussed under the Factor A, ``Conservation--Habitat Restoration and 
Protection'' above. We expect conservation efforts being developed by 
National Wildlife Refuges in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley to 
continue to assist in conservation of the beetle.

Federally Funded Restoration Programs

    The Federal Government administers a variety of programs involving 
grants and loans through the Natural Resources Conservation Service 
(NRCS) and the Service for the express purpose of promoting habitat 
enhancement. Some of the actions within these programs could 
potentially benefit the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
    The Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) Program works 
directly with private landowners to restore and enhance habitat for 
federally listed species on their lands through the use of small 
grants. However, private landowners contacted by the Service have 
expressed a preference not to have elderberry shrubs planted on their 
property (in spite of the value these shrubs provide for birds and 
other wildlife) due to a fear of restrictive regulations and impacts to 
their economic livelihood. NRCS reports that 22 of 210 easements held 
under its Wetland Reserve and Emergency Watershed Protection Programs 
support elderberries (NRCS 2011, p. 1). NRCS (2011, p. 2) indicates 
that elderberry plantings in its Hedgerow Planting Program are 
restricted to San Joaquin and Yolo Counties where safe harbor 
agreements are in place. Based on responses from landowners, NRCS 
believes that more elderberries would be planted on easements if the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle were delisted. The extent that such 
plantings have contributed to beetle recovery could not be assessed 
because no spatial data or other information are available for us to 
assess.
Summary of Factor D
    If the valley elderberry longhorn beetle is delisted as a 
threatened species under the Act and removed from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, the greatest impact to the beetle 
would be loss of the protections provided by sections 4(d) and 7(a)(2) 
of the Act. Under regulations established under the authority of 
section 4(d), the Service has prohibited the take of the beetle (50 CFR 
17.31(a)). Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires all Federal agencies to 
insure that any action that it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or 
cause the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical 
habitat. No other Federal or State law explicitly protects the beetle 
or its habitat. The Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy 
Act may continue to provide incidental benefits to the beetle when 
riparian vegetation is impacted, but mitigation can meet the 
requirements of these laws without necessarily benefitting the beetle. 
State laws such as CESA and CEQA may continue to provide incidental 
protection as described above should the beetle be delisted. On the 
other hand, private landowners throughout the range of the beetle who 
participate in Federal or State riparian and other vegetation 
enhancement programs may be more inclined to plant elderberries on 
their properties.
    As discussed above (Factor A), there are a number of ongoing and 
projected flood control actions, and vegetative maintenance of the 
existing flood control system, that may continue to affect valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle habitat, and hence the subspecies, if the 
beetle is removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. 
However, this relative lack of regulatory protection should be judged 
in light of the remaining presence of this threat.
    Absent continued protection of the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle under the Act, long-term protection would be most certain in 
areas where the subspecies currently receives some form of protection. 
As discussed above (see Estimates of Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle 
Conserved Areas section), 4 of the 26 locations of the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle include a significant component of well-
protected lands with

[[Page 60262]]

known beetle habitat, and portions of 6 others contain some well-
protected lands. Seven locations (mostly in the north Central Valley) 
are managed for natural and open space values or are partially on city 
parks and Forest Service lands, where the land and management status 
protects against urban development, but with no specific protections 
for the beetle or elderberry shrubs in particular. These latter seven 
locations vary in extent from large sections of current habitat (such 
as the American River Parkway) to minor portions in parks or on Forest 
Service land. If the beetle were delisted, we consider the existing 
regulations for the beetle, coupled with the overall extent of habitat 
protection and restoration efforts discussed above, to sufficiently 
protect the beetle (i.e., ameliorate the threats) into the future in 
these areas. Elsewhere within the beetle's range where protections are 
less, the beetle's persistence ranges from fair to good (depending on 
the circumstances (see Table 2)), as well as uncertain at four 
locations (see Finding section below).

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Continued 
Existence of the Species

    The final rule to list the valley elderberry longhorn beetle did 
not include any threats under Factor E. Since listing, we have learned 
that the following other factors may impact the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle: climate change, pesticides, human uses other than 
those discussed under Factor B, small population size, and loss of 
beetle populations due to habitat fragmentation, which is a synergistic 
threat when combined with small population size (and thus a Factor E 
threat discussed in this section).
Climate Change
    Climate change could affect the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
in other ways besides the amount and distribution of habitat (see 
Factor A discussion on climate change above). Changes in temperature 
and precipitation patterns may cause shifts in the timing of elderberry 
flowering relative to beetle emergence, or affect the relationship of 
the host plant species or beetle subspecies in other ways. Talley et 
al. (2006, p. 6) believed that differences in seasonal climate between 
the Central Valley and coastal range encourage asynchronization of the 
phenology of the listed subspecies and the common subspecies. Talley et 
al. (2006, p. 15) also noted that the species (and variety) of 
elderberry varies with respect to drought tolerance and elevation. 
Therefore, it is possible that climate change could affect the beetle. 
The magnitude of threat of climate change to the beetle in the future 
cannot be assessed further at this time due to taxonomic uncertainties 
within the host plant genus (Sambucus) and lack of genetic information 
about the two beetle subspecies (Talley et al., 2006, pp. 7, 15). 
Therefore, based on the best available scientific and commercial info 
at this time, and absent any confirming information, we conclude that 
climate change is not a significant factor affecting the persistence of 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
Pesticides
    Since listing, we have learned that many pesticides are commonly 
used within the valley elderberry longhorn beetle's range. These 
pesticides include insecticides (most of which are broad-spectrum and 
likely toxic to the beetle) and herbicides (which may harm or kill its 
elderberry host plants). The California Department of Pesticide 
Regulation (CDPR) in 1997 listed 239 pesticide active ingredients 
applied in proximity to locations of the beetle (Marovich and Kishaba 
1997, pp. 270-275). Four of the five California Counties (Fresno, Kern, 
Tulare, and Madera) that have the greatest pesticide use in California 
are in the San Joaquin Valley (CDPR 2010, p. 1), where approximately 33 
percent of beetle occurrences are documented (CNDDB 2010, pp. 1-201). 
Many pesticide applications likely coincide with the period when adult 
beetles are active, and when the beetle eggs and early larval stages 
occur (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 43). These are considered the life 
stages at which the beetle is most vulnerable to pesticide effects, as 
they occur on the outside of elderberry stems (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 
43). The pesticides, although not applied directly to beetle habitat, 
may indirectly affect the beetle or its habitat if pesticides drift 
from nearby locations.
    Although no major issues relating to drift from agricultural 
pesticides have been documented for riparian vegetation in general 
(Spotts 1989, p. 524), Barr (1991, p. 40, and citing Jones & Stokes 
1987) noted yellowing of plants adjacent to cultivated fields along 
Middle River in San Joaquin County, and direct loss of elderberry from 
herbicides on the Cosumnes River. No sign of the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle was observed near Middle River in 1991, although exit 
holes and an adult had been noted in 1984-1985 (Barr 1991, p. 27). 
Additionally, pesticide or herbicide use was specifically noted as a 
threat in 25 of 201 CNDDB records (CNDDB 2010, pp. 12, 33, 46, 86-87, 
110, 114, 116, 121, 155-158, 160-165, 169, 173-174, 192-193, 195). 
Judging from the distribution of pesticide-affected locations 
identified in the CNDDB, this threat can be considered widespread, 
rather than localized. In most cases, however, the CNDDB notes appear 
to qualify the pesticide threat as one related to proximity to 
agricultural operations (a notable exception is CNDDB occurrence number 
16, whose notes state, ``Many plants * * * were dead (herbicides) * * 
*.'' CNDDB 2010, p. 12). The sensitivity of valley elderberry longhorn 
beetles or its host plant to agricultural pesticides, and overall 
effect, is uncertain.
    We consult with agencies on the potential effects of some 
pesticides on the valley elderberry longhorn beetle in the context of 
several national-level evaluations of pesticide effects on endangered 
and threatened species. For example, in 1999, the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) entered into a section 7 consultation with the 
Service on the registration of 15 pesticides. In this consultation, the 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office provided a memorandum to the 
Service's Region 1 Office in Portland, Oregon, regarding the use of 
these pesticides (Service 1999b). Our 5-year review mischaracterized 
the consultation (Service 2006a, p. 18), stating that a draft jeopardy 
opinion was prepared; however, the consultation was never completed and 
no jeopardy opinion was issued. In the memorandum, the Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office provided its rationale for determining that the 
registration of 7 of the 15 pesticides, and their subsequent use as 
proposed by product labeling, would likely result in jeopardy to the 
beetle (Service 1999b). Service biologists noted that the primary 
threat to the beetle was the loss and alteration of habitat, but also 
noted that insecticide use and vegetation control in agricultural areas 
and along rights-of-way may be factors that could limit the beetle's 
abundance and distribution, although no data were available to allow an 
evaluation of potential effects (Service 1999b, pp. 77-83). Service 
biologists based their rationale for the draft jeopardy determinations 
on the beetle's small population status and the small, scattered 
habitat sites known at the time (Service 1999b, pp. 80-83).
    Although several of the seven pesticides are still widely used in 
the Central Valley, the registered use of two of the seven pesticides 
(Bendiocarb and Fenthion) has been revoked by the EPA and the State of 
California (Kegley et al. 2008, pp. 1-46). No specific evaluation of 
exposure or response of the valley

[[Page 60263]]

elderberry longhorn beetle to any of these pesticides has been 
conducted.
    Based on the information presented above, there is potential for 
agricultural pesticides to impact the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
through drift in both the northern and southern Central Valley. 
However, the concerns expressed above were never confirmed by the 
Service in a final biological opinion and we otherwise lack any 
information confirming that pesticide use constitutes a significant 
threat to the subspecies.
Human Use
    A number of the major occurrences of the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle (such as American and Sacramento Rivers, Putah Creek, and the 
Feather, Stanislaus, and Kern Rivers) occur at least partially on 
publicly accessible areas that are subject to intended and unintended 
human uses, including biking (on and off-road), hiking, horseback 
riding, associated formal and informal trails, maintenance of such 
trails, camping (legal and illegal), pruning of trees (Barr 1991, pp. 
40, 90-91), cutting of firewood generally, and related effects such as 
fires, which continue today. On September 15, 2011, for example, nine 
arson fires were set between River Bend and Hagan Parks in the American 
River Parkway. Alone or in combination with other threats, and 
depending on severity, these activities can, and do, kill elderberries 
or reduce their health (Barr 1991, pp. 40, 27, 31, 32, 92). In some 
cases, evidence of fire corresponds to negative surveys of beetles 
where they formerly occurred (such as the Merced River) (Barr 1991, p. 
31). Evidence of fire is also mentioned in four CNDDB records (CNDDB 
2010, pp. 70, 86, 115, 202), where it appears to be associated--in some 
cases--with proximity to roads and a greater perceived risk of fire 
associated with traffic or roadside mowing. Pruning is identified in 
five CNDDB records (CNDDB 2010, pp. 2, 12, 67, 99, 174), and several 
records identify maintenance around bike and equestrian trails (CNDDB, 
pp. 121, 195). Overall, Barr (1991, p. 40) found that 38 out of 230 
sites showed some damage from fire or cutting.
    All intended and unintended human use effects may result in 
incremental losses or reduction in the amount or quality of valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle habitat. While evidence exists of sporadic 
and localized impacts to elderberry bushes from human uses, such as the 
arsons described above, we are not aware of similar reoccurring impacts 
throughout the beetle's range. Thus, based on review of the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we do not expect 
losses associated with human use to be of such significance that they 
could threaten the continued existence of the beetle currently or in 
the future.
Small Population Size
    Small population numbers of valley elderberry longhorn beetle host 
plants, and even lower numbers of occupied host plants, constitute a 
threat to the beetle at many locations, which, in turn, may result in 
small beetle population sizes. However, this potential threat can be 
true for many species. Additionally, Talley et al. (2006, p. 13) 
concludes that low mobility, very small local populations, and 
isolation of habitat patches renders beetle populations especially 
susceptible to extirpation with little chance of recolonization, such 
as was observed by Collinge et al. (2001) (discussed above in 
``Occurrence Information and Population Size and Distribution'').
    Although we do not have data from which to draw conclusions 
regarding the rangewide valley elderberry longhorn beetle population 
size, we nonetheless considered whether rarity poses a potential threat 
to the subspecies. While small populations are generally at greater 
risk of extirpation from normal population fluctuations due to impacts 
such as predation, disease, changing food supply, and stochastic 
(random) events such as fire, corroborating information regarding 
threats beyond rarity is needed to meet the information threshold 
indicating that the beetle is endangered or threatened. Many species 
are naturally rare and in the absence of information identifying 
threats to the species and linking those threats to the rarity of the 
species, the Service does not consider rarity alone to be a threat. 
Further, a species that continues to survive could be well-equipped to 
continue to exist into the future even if it has always had small 
population sizes, has always been rare, or has always been patchily 
distributed (as is the case for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle).
    Many naturally rare species have persisted for long periods within 
small geographic areas, and many naturally rare species exhibit traits 
that allow them to persist despite their small population sizes. 
Consequently, the fact that a species is rare or has small populations 
does not necessarily indicate that it may be in danger of extinction 
now or in the future. We need to consider specific potential threats 
that might be exacerbated by rarity or small population size (or patchy 
distribution such as with the valley elderberry longhorn beetle). 
Although low genetic variability and reduced fitness from inbreeding 
could occur, at this time we have no evidence of such genetic problems 
with the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
    Based on our review of valley elderberry longhorn beetle occurrence 
records compared to aerial imagery and other documentation, small 
population size may potentially be the result of one or more threats 
(as evidenced by data showing that some locations may have experienced 
loss of elderberry shrubs over time). Small populations in general are 
particularly susceptible to extirpation as a result of localized 
stochastic events or local exposure to threats already discussed. 
Several records at the Sacramento River, Colusa to American River 
confluence, American River Confluence south to Delta, Bear River near 
Mokelumne, Calaveras River-Stockton Diverting Canal near Linden 
locations were associated with a few isolated elderberry plants or 
groups of plants that appear to have been completely lost since last 
observation or nearly so (i.e., since listing), and currently lack 
protections or enhancement measures that would allow regeneration or 
restore habitat (comparison of Service database described in the 
Finding section below and Barr (1991, pp. 24, 27, 29)). Other areas 
with elderberries lack beetles (see ``Population Status and Trends'' 
above). Talley et al. (2006a, p. 13) stated that low mobility, very 
small local populations, and isolation of habitat patches renders 
beetle populations especially susceptible to extirpation with little 
chance of recolonization. However, the best available information does 
not indicate small population size is a significant concern now, nor do 
we believe it will become a significant concern in the future. This 
assessment is based on our evaluation of the site-specific threats, 
protections, and recovery actions that exist at given locations 
throughout the species' range, and the prospectus for the beetle's 
persistence into the future at those locations (see Table 2 below and 
discussion in the Finding section). Additionally, we do not believe 
small population size is a significant concern given current data 
identifying increased number of occurrences known today as compared to 
the time of listing (i.e., 201 occurrence records at 26 locations 
compared to 10 occurrence records at 3 locations), as well as this 
subspecies' natural, patchy distribution (as described in the 
Background section above).

[[Page 60264]]

Loss of Populations Resulting From Habitat Fragmentation
    As indicated under the ``Population Status and Trends'' section 
above, local valley elderberry longhorn beetle populations are subject 
to extirpation and subsequent recolonization, but recolonization is 
only likely if there are occupied areas within about 25 mi (40 km) from 
which colonizers can migrate (Collinge et al. 2001, pp. 108-110; Talley 
et al. 2006a, p. 10). Collinge et al. (2001, pp. 106, 108) has 
documented the long-term extirpation of the beetle from entire 
watersheds due to the apparent loss of the last occupied site within 
the specified distance. As previously noted, a comparison study between 
1991 and 1997 data presented an overall moderately downward trend of 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle occupancy, as indicated by both 
short- and long-term extinctions and colonizations, by sites with 
elderberry shrubs, and by occupied shrub groups within each site 
(Talley et al. 2006a, p. 13). Although a downward trend was noted 
(Talley et al. 2006a), this conclusion is specific to the areas 
researched by Barr (1991) and Collinge et al. (2001). This observed 
trend should not necessarily be extrapolated to the long-term, 
rangewide status of the beetle due to the uncertainties involved in 
obtaining the results (e.g., all beetle habitat surveyed by Barr (1991) 
was not surveyed by Collinge et al. (2001), as further described in 
``Population Status and Trends'' above).
    At this time, we are unaware of any information that would support 
robust conclusions regarding the extent to which local beetle 
populations may become isolated from each other by distances of greater 
than 25 mi (40 km). We know that there are already discontinuities of 
more than this distance between some populations, especially in the 
south Central Valley, as well as within major corridors. We suspect 
that potential habitat fragmentation, in combination with small 
population size (discussed above), results in a greater combined threat 
of local extirpation in the south Central Valley. However, we have not 
censused all potential habitat in tributaries or uplands that may 
harbor the subspecies; additional populations not yet detected could 
increase the potential for recolonization.
    It is possible that some level of threat from fragmentation and 
small population size (though we are uncertain of natural valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle population numbers) could have always 
existed. Nevertheless, our evaluation of the best available scientific 
and commercial information indicate that fragmentation remains as a 
threat today, and may increase in the future. However, we note that our 
1980 estimates of the beetle's range were underestimates. Given our 
knowledge today, the level of threat posed by fragmentation is much 
reduced.
Summary of Factor E
    Since listing, potential Factor E threats that could affect the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle include climate change, pesticides, 
human use, loss of beetle populations due to habitat fragmentation, and 
small population size.
    Climate change might affect the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
through effects other than habitat distribution, such as shifts in the 
timing of elderberry flowering relative to beetle emergence, or impacts 
to the relationship of the listed and common beetle subspecies in some 
other way. Based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information at this time and absent any confirming information, we 
conclude that climate change is not a significant factor affecting the 
persistence of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle has been reported from 
locations adjacent to agriculture where pesticide application occurs. 
Information from occurrence records and other sources indicate that 
drift of pesticides into beetle habitat is of concern. However, we have 
no information regarding exposure of the beetle to specific pesticides 
or potential impacts to beetle populations from exposure. Although some 
effects of pesticides on elderberry shrubs have been noted, no link has 
been established between persistence or occurrence of the beetle and 
adjacency to farmed lands that use pesticides.
    Some valley elderberry longhorn beetle occurrences are at least 
partially on publicly accessible areas that are subject to intended and 
unintended human uses, the impacts of which could result in incremental 
losses or reduction in the amount or quality of beetle habitat. 
However, available information indicates losses would likely not be 
frequent; thus, significant losses are not expected. There is also 
evidence of a variety of human use impacts involving trails, cutting, 
pruning, and fire in occupied beetle locations.
    Based on review of occurrence records compared to aerial imagery 
and other documentation, loss of valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
populations due to fragmentation (which alone, or in combination with, 
other threats has the potential to result in small population size) 
remains a threat currently and potentially into the future. However, 
small population size is not considered a significant current or future 
threat, and the threat of fragmentation is not considered significant 
when taken within the context of the increased number of occurrences 
known today as compared to the time of listing. Additionally, we are 
unaware of any information that would support robust conclusions 
regarding frequent isolations of beetle populations across the 
subspecies' range, the extent to which local beetle populations may 
become isolated from each other by distances of greater than 25 mi (40 
km), or whether any potential threats might be exacerbated by 
characteristics such as rarity or patchy distribution.

Finding

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial data 
available regarding the past, present, and future threats faced by the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle. As required by the Act, we 
considered the five potential threat factors to assess whether the 
beetle is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range. When considering the listing status of a species, 
the first step in the analysis is to determine whether it is in danger 
of extinction throughout all of its range. If this is the case, then 
the species is listed in its entirety. For instance, if the threats to 
a species are acting only on a portion of its range, but they are at 
such a large scale that they place the entire species in danger of 
extinction, we would continue to list the entire species.
    When the valley elderberry longhorn beetle was listed in 1980, it 
was known from only the American River, Putah Creek, and the Merced 
River in the Central Valley of California. Its two primary threats were 
loss of habitat (Factor A) and inadequate regulatory mechanisms 
protecting the beetle (Factor D). Compared to the three locations known 
to support the beetle at the time of listing, surveys have identified 
at least 26 locations that support the beetle from Shasta County to 
Kern County (CNDDB 2010, pp. 1-202; Table 1). This represents a 
significant increase of occurrences and a significant change in our 
understanding of the subspecies' range as compared to the time of 
listing.
    As first introduced and described above in the Summary of Factors 
Affecting the Species section, in order to examine the scale of threats 
and potential for extinction for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
within these locations and as a whole, we first

[[Page 60265]]

compiled a rangewide GIS spatial database that included all available 
information on beetle records, riparian vegetation, section 7 
consultations, mitigation actions, conservation and other protection 
actions (including specific plantings of elderberry shrubs), current 
(year 2010) aerial imagery, roadways, and near term growth (i.e., 
through the year 2020). For each of the 26 locations identified in this 
rule, we used this database and supporting information to synthesize a 
best professional opinion of the prospectus for persistence with 
delisting at those locations, considering: (1) Current habitat; (2) 
occupation records by location (presented previously in Table 1); (3) 
threats; (4) protections and recovery actions; and (5) studies needed 
to address uncertainties in species data, protections, threats, and 
prospectus for persistence.
    Aerial imagery was used to generally assess quality of habitat and 
proximity to disturbances or other threats (width, extent and 
continuity of riparian areas, disturbances such as trails and roads). 
We also considered GIS database entries and other literature 
descriptions on the size, number, and distribution of elderberry 
shrubs; trends over time; and other site-specific factors (see Table 
2). Location specific threats are identified for the five-factors where 
appropriate or otherwise noted as pervasive threats that apply to all 
locations. Protections (conservation) and recovery actions we 
considered include known actions, the extent of assurance that those 
actions would be implemented and, where available, the documented 
effectiveness or failure of those recovery actions.
    As presented in Table 2 below (Prospectus for Persistence with 
Delisting column), we did not formulate quantifiable measurable 
objectives for our determinations of persistence. Rather, the suite of 
information was considered together and given a qualitative persistence 
determination of poor, fair, average, good, or best. Several 
determinations were deemed questionable due to high levels of data 
uncertainty and are noted as such (uncertain); these are to be 
considered a best-case scenario for the purpose of this analysis. 
Occupation records were considered in terms of number and constancy 
over time, with greater likelihood where such records were consistent, 
recent, regular, and of more certain species identification (Table 1). 
Species presence and persistence were considered less certain where 
species records and habitat surveys were older, and where elevations 
were higher (where the valley elderberry longhorn beetle and the 
nonlisted California elderberry longhorn beetle subspecies overlap) and 
there was no adult male specimen to confirm identity.

   Table 2--Locations, Threats, Protections, and Summary Species Status Information for the Valley Elderberry
                  Longhorn Beetle in the North Central and South Central Valleys of California
                                        [Acronyms are defined below] \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                Study needs (to
                                     Site-specific                                                  address
                                  threats (see below                                           uncertainties in
                                     for pervasive      Protections and     Prospectus for       species data,
          Locations \2\              threats under     recovery  actions   persistence with      protections,
                                   Factors C, D, and                           delisting      threats, and hence
                                    E that apply to                                             prospectus for
                                    all sites) \3\                                               persistence)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              NORTH CENTRAL VALLEY
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.a. Sacramento River (SR),       Factor A: limited   One small           Average. Persists   Continued and
 Redding-Red Bluff.                habitat loss from   restoration         with modest         expanded habitat
                                   urban development   (Turtle Bay, 120    threats.            or subspecies
                                   in city and         acres).             Occupation at       surveys to
                                   associated bank                         Stillwater-Paynes   include more
                                   protection                              Creeks, negative    tributaries.
                                   (nonproject);                           surveys on Cow-
                                   additional                              Cottonwood
                                   habitat remains                         Creeks.
                                   on some                                 Infrequent
                                   tributaries but                         limited surveys.
                                   not others.
                                  Factor C:
                                   Argentine ants.
                                   (Holyoak and
                                   Graves 2010).
                                  Factor E: human
                                   use (recreation,
                                   cutting).
1.b. SR, Red Bluff-Chico........  Factor A:           Significant         Good. Habitat       Consistent habitat
                                   relatively low      conservation        somewhat improved   and subspecies
                                   past loss/current   easements, some     by protections.     monitoring.
                                   threat; localized   with restoration    Status uncertain
                                   extensive loss in   to lessen effects   due to age of
                                   vicinity of small   of adjacent         surveys and low
                                   city; some          agriculture.        frequency.
                                   agricultural                            Species probably
                                   encroachment;                           persists.
                                   some bank
                                   protection;
                                   narrow riparian
                                   corridor band on
                                   mainstem and
                                   tributaries.
                                  Factor C:
                                   Argentine ants
                                   (Holyoak and
                                   Graves 2010).
1.c. SR, Chico-Colusa...........  Factor A: least     Significant         Good. Habitat       Consistent habitat
                                   habitat loss or     conservation        somewhat improved   and subspecies
                                   threat in           easements, some     by protections.     monitoring.
                                   mainstem,           with restoration,   Status uncertain
                                   tributary           to lessen effects   due to age of
                                   channelization      of adjacent         surveys and low
                                   but not to          agriculture.        frequency.
                                   completion; some                        Subspecies
                                   bank protection/                        probably persists.
                                   flood control
                                   noted, but no
                                   levees.
1.d. SR, Colusa-American River    Factor A:           None known........  Poor. Remaining     Assess enhancement
 confluence.                       intensive                               habitat at risk     opportunity.
                                   agricultural                            due to private      Limited potential
                                   conversion,                             ownership, and      absent levee
                                   resulting in                            vegetative          reconstruction/
                                   complete riparian                       maintenance of      setback.
                                   vegetation loss                         flood control       Easements for
                                   between Colusa                          facilities.         near term land-
                                   and Knight's                            Presence            side elderberries
                                   Landing, then                           questionable.       may help connect
                                   sparse/limited to                                           populations.
                                   Sacramento, due
                                   to past and
                                   recent flood
                                   control,
                                   including
                                   confinement by
                                   levees.

[[Page 60266]]

 
1.e. SR, American River           Factor A:           Minimal trial       Fair. Declining.    Assess enhancement
 confluence south.                 significant past    areas of            Remaining habitat   opportunity,
                                   and ongoing         vegetation on       at high risk due    especially
                                   habitat loss due    levees, small       to ongoing          regarding the
                                   to flood control,   fraction            maintenance and     limited
                                   bank protection,    (estimated at       uncertainties on    vegetation
                                   and upgrades;       less than 1% of     future              potential due to
                                   recent habitat      bank length); not   maintenance of      enforcement of
                                   loss associated     of vegetation       flood control       Corps ETL;
                                   with urban          type to benefit     facilities.         potential for
                                   development and     beetle (i.e., not                       more levee
                                   emergency levee     elderberry).                            vegetation
                                   repair; extensive                                           allowance via
                                   flood control                                               relaxed
                                   (confinement by                                             maintenance.
                                   levees, bank
                                   protection,
                                   devegetation);
                                   sparse/limited/
                                   intermittent
                                   riparian
                                   vegetation
                                   remaining.
2. Thomes Creek.................  Factor A: modest    None known........  Fair. Status        Updated habitat
                                   rangeland/                              uncertain due to    and subspecies
                                   agricultural use;                       lack of habitat     surveys to
                                   current                                 and subspecies      evaluate
                                   vegetation                              surveys.            potential species
                                   appears limited                                             protections.
                                   from unknown
                                   cause; possibly
                                   naturally limited
                                   elderberry to the
                                   west by soil/
                                   alluvium type,
                                   lack of water.
3. Stony Creek..................  Factor A: More      Some conservation   Fair (perhaps       Updated habitat
                                   agriculture         easements.          better). Status     and subspecies
                                   compared to other   Elderberry          uncertain due to    surveys to
                                   watersheds in       plantings near      lack of habitat     evaluate
                                   immediate           mouth. Status       and subspecies      potential species
                                   vicinity, but not   elsewhere unknown.  surveys.            protections.
                                   adjacent to
                                   riparian, plus
                                   more persistent
                                   water, results in
                                   more riparian
                                   vegetation than
                                   Thomes but still
                                   limited/sparse;
                                   elderberry
                                   verified only
                                   near reservoir,
                                   more suspected
                                   habitat near DWR-
                                   mapped riparian
                                   area near Orland.
4. Big Chico Creek..............  Factor A:           Some parkland,      Good. Persistence   Updated habitat
                                   significant past    especially in       probable.           and subspecies
                                   loss from urban     Chico. Mitigation                       surveys. Evaluate
                                   development in      bank nearby                             threats and
                                   Chico;              (Bidwell Ranch)                         protection needs
                                   agriculture         at least                                downstream of
                                   downstream;         partially offsets                       Chico.
                                   agriculture         continuing urban
                                   present in lower    impacts.
                                   creek resulting
                                   in narrow but
                                   continuous
                                   corridor there;
                                   elsewhere
                                   riparian remains
                                   in moderate-to-
                                   wider band (e.g.,
                                   Bidwell Park);
                                   abundant known
                                   elderberry.
5. Feather River................  Factor A: past      Significant         Good. Existing      Regular surveys.
                                   losses due to       conservation        conservation        Evaluate
                                   levees/bank         easements, some     easements and       alternatives to
                                   protection;         with restoration    proximity to Bear   in-place west
                                   ongoing threats     to lessen effects   setback,            levee
                                   due to fix-in-      of adjacent         Wildlands bank,     improvements
                                   place west levee    agriculture.        indicate probable   (ring/J\3\) to
                                   proposal; future                        persistence.        avoid growth
                                   threats reduced                                             inducement and
                                   by protection/                                              urban
                                   recovery actions                                            encroachment.
                                   resulting in
                                   locally wider
                                   riparian band in
                                   portions, but
                                   narrow riparian
                                   elsewhere.
                                  Factor C:
                                   Argentine ants.
                                  Factor E: human
                                   use (recreation,
                                   trails, fire,
                                   camping, cutting).
6. Butte Creek..................  Factor A: losses/   Central Valley      Good (but           Updated habitat
                                   devegetation        Joint Venture       uncertain).         and subspecies
                                   downstream of       easement in         Pending habitat     surveys; evaluate
                                   Chico; some         portion of canyon   and subspecies      threats and
                                   remnant habitat     (a few elderberry   surveys or          protection needs
                                   may remain in       plantings above     resurveys;          downstream of
                                   Butte Sink area;    it). Otherwise      assessment of       Chico, especially
                                   best riparian       unknown.            elderberry          in formerly
                                   vegetation is in                        success in          occupied sink
                                   lower canyon                            protected canyon    area.
                                   (upstream area),                        area.
                                   but this is
                                   currently
                                   unoccupied/
                                   unsurveyed.
7. Yuba River...................  Factor A: flood     None known. Nearly  Uncertain           Habitat and
                                   control;            all private.        occurrence of       subspecies
                                   aggregate/gold                          subspecies and      surveys. Local
                                   mining;                                 habitat, hence      threats and
                                   agriculture;                            questioned          benefit
                                   elderberry                              presence/           evaluation.
                                   present but                             persistence.        Protection and
                                   unsurveyed,                             Single survey       restoration
                                   suspected to be                         date/exit hole      opportunity ID as
                                   minor component                         for power line      appropriate.
                                   of overall                              area not near
                                   riparian.                               river (some from
                                                                           dead wood).
8. Bear River...................  Factor A: past      Setback levee       Good. Persistence   Habitat and
                                   losses due to       project with        probable.           subspecies
                                   levees/bank         elderberry                              surveys. Identify
                                   protection;         plantings at                            maintenance
                                   associated          mouth; wildlands                        within levees,
                                   agricultural        bank nearby.                            and evaluate
                                   development.                                                protective
                                                                                               measures such as
                                                                                               relaxed
                                                                                               maintenance.

[[Page 60267]]

 
9. Lower American River.........  Factor A: some      Extensive riparian  Best. Extensive     Continued
                                   flood control.      plantings,          habitat,            monitoring.
                                  Factor C:            monitoring;         protections with    Determine funding
                                   Argentine ants.     setback levees;     minimal threats.    mechanism of
                                  Factor E: human      management plan     High occupancy.     management plan
                                   use (recreation,    (implementation     Persistence         implementation.
                                   trails, fire,       uncertain).         likely.
                                   camping, cutting).
10. Upper American River          Factor A: urban     None known. Status  Fair overall (some  Habitat and
 vicinity (Miner and Secret        development.        of undeveloped      may be better or    subspecies
 Ravine, Coon, Anderson and       Factor E: human      portions unknown.   worse). Habitat     surveys. Evaluate
 Linda Creeks).                    use (trails).                           limited; affected   protections and
                                                                           by adjacent         development
                                                                           development         threats.
                                                                           northwest to
                                                                           Interstate 80.
11. Putah Creek.................  Factor A: narrowed  Partly within park  Good. Better        Continued
                                   corridor in major   lands. Unknown in   habitat, less       monitoring.
                                   private land        portions within     protection but      Identify and
                                   nearby              private land.       reduced threats.    evaluate
                                   agriculture         Management plans    Persistence         protections in
                                   (general threat).   exist; assurances   likely.             private areas.
                                  Factor C:            to implement
                                   Argentine ants.     unknown.
                                  Factor E: human
                                   use
                                   (recreational,
                                   similar to lower
                                   American River,
                                   above).
12. Cache Creek.................  Factor A:           None known........  Good (at least      Habitat and
                                   Extensive past                          partially).         subspecies
                                   riparian                                Persistence         surveys.
                                   vegetation loss                         probable.           Restoration and
                                   due to adjacent                                             enhancement
                                   agriculture,                                                potential
                                   flood control,                                              investigation.
                                   aggregate mining,
                                   resulting in
                                   limited habitat
                                   in the lower 2/
                                   3rds of creek.
13. Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks..  Factor A:           None known........  Good. Incremental   Habitat and
                                   agriculture,                            losses due to       subspecies
                                   flood control,                          urban development   surveys. Identify
                                   channelization,                         expected. Some      current
                                   suburban                                decline, but        protections or
                                   development;                            persistence         needs in private
                                   threat of habitat                       likely to occur     areas.
                                   loss may be                             somewhere in area.
                                   limited due to
                                   adjacent rugged
                                   terrain; some
                                   tributaries
                                   unchannelized.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              SOUTH CENTRAL VALLEY
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
14. Cosumnes-Laguna-Dry Creeks..  Factor A: urban     5,500 acres lower   Good. Expect        Habitat and
                                   development at      watershed           improving habitat   subspecies
                                   Rancho Murieta-     preserve; 780       but not yet         surveys.
                                   Wilton-Galt;        acres upper         restored. Former    Evaluation of
                                   agriculture/urban   watershed Laguna    records largely     threats and
                                   threat partly       Creek Mitigation    outside of          protection needs
                                   offset by           Bank; existing      preserved or        outside preserve
                                   preservation on     beetle habitat      protected lands.    in private areas.
                                   part of Cosumnes    (elderberry)                            Habitat potential
                                   only, not Laguna-   unquantified.                           within preserved
                                   Dry or Cosumnes     Protection in                           area.
                                   outside preserve;   private land and
                                   riparian            developed
                                   corridors           corridors unknown.
                                   currently narrow,
                                   some devegetated
                                   and not yet
                                   restored.
                                   Preserve lands
                                   include some
                                   waterfowl
                                   management, but
                                   elderberry there
                                   is undetermined.
15. Mokelumne-Bear Rivers.......  Factor A: limited   Approximately 197   Good. Persistence   Habitat and
                                   urban development   acres of            likely if beetle    subspecies
                                   (Lockeford-Lodi,    restoration. SHA:   is present and      surveys. Updated
                                   concentrated        one enrollee for    either              evaluation of
                                   subdivision);       300 acres with 12   protections exist   threats and
                                   moderate            elderberry          or absence of       protection needs.
                                   agriculture;        shrubs, of 3,500    elevated threat
                                   riparian            acres allowed in    in the future.
                                   vegetation          SHA.
                                   remaining
                                   somewhat wider
                                   and more intact/
                                   mature on most of
                                   the Mokelumne
                                   (but not at
                                   Lockeford); Bear
                                   riparian looked
                                   better than most
                                   tributaries on
                                   aerials, but Barr
                                   (1991) found no
                                   elderberry in
                                   riparian
                                   vegetation.
16. Stanislaus River............  Factor A:           Two elderberry      Good. However, low  Comprehensive
                                   agriculture and     planting sites      occupancy.          habitat and
                                   urban losses.       (Mohler,            Persistence         subspecies
                                   Moderate-to-thin    McHenry). Partial   deemed probable     surveys. Identify
                                   riparian            failure at          based on            further
                                   vegetation          Mohler. Some        elderberry          restoration and
                                   remains but         parks may have      abundance.          protection
                                   varies with         other protections   Subspecies ID       measures as
                                   location.           but not much is     questionable near   appropriate.
                                   Tributaries         known.              Goodwin.
                                   channelized and
                                   devegetated.
                                  Factor C:
                                   Argentine ants.

[[Page 60268]]

 
17. Upper Stanislaus hills        Factor A: urban     None known........  Average. Recent     More thorough
 (vicinity above and between New   development/                            adult sightings     habitat and
 Melones and Don Pedro             ranchette,                              (exit holes)        subspecies
 Reservoirs, including Sullivan    especially around                       suggests            surveys to verify
 Creek).                           Sullivan Creek;                         persistence         extent outside of
                                   some significant                        probable due to     development.
                                   habitat loss, but                       terrain, limited    Species ID (adult
                                   similar                                 road access, and    sighting not yet
                                   unsurveyed                              distance from       verified)
                                   landscape appears                       population center.  especially since
                                   to remain                                                   at elevation, may
                                   unperturbed,                                                be unlisted
                                   scattered in                                                California
                                   hills.                                                      elderberry
                                                                                               longhorn beetle
                                                                                               species.
18. Calaveras River-Stockton      Factor A:           None known, but     Fair. Presence      Habitat and
 Diverting Canal.                  agriculture,        likely completely   possible but        subspecies
                                   flood control       unprotected,        questionable. Old   surveys
                                   (diversion          mostly private.     records and lack    throughout.
                                   channel, levee,                         of habitat          Threat evaluation
                                   maintenance                             survey. Linden      and protection in
                                   activities); some                       area had records    private areas as
                                   adjacent urban                          but vegetation      warranted.
                                   use; but habitat                        looks thin now
                                   still present to                        (denser upstream,
                                   a variable extent                       thinner or absent
                                   (good to thin);                         downstream).
                                   corridor
                                   narrowed,
                                   significant
                                   portion sparse.
19. Tuolumne River..............  Factor A:           Several floodway    Fair (or better).   Habitat and
                                   extensive           restorations        Uncertainty due     subspecies
                                   aggregate mining,   include             to old subspecies   surveys. Identify
                                   urban               conservation        surveys. No         restoration and
                                   development, and    easements; one      current beetle      protection
                                   agriculture         (mining reach--7/   habitat             opportunities
                                   depending on        11 segment) has     (elderberry)        specific to
                                   location. Mostly    87 acres, 160       information.        beetle.
                                   narrow habitat      elderberry          Presence and
                                   remaining, with     plants; other       persistence
                                   some areas of       reaches unknown.    questionable.
                                   better quality.
20. Merced River................  Factor A:           None for beetle.    Fair. Old           Habitat and
                                   extensive           Channel             subspecies          subspecies
                                   aggregate mining,   restoration on      surveys. No         surveys. Identify
                                   intensive           less than 5% of     current beetle      restoration and
                                   agriculture,        length;             habitat             protection
                                   caused losses;      protections         (elderberry)        opportunities.
                                   narrow mainstem     unknown.            information.
                                   riparian; split                         Presence and
                                   channels                                persistence
                                   channelized and                         questionable.
                                   devegetated.
                                  Factor C:
                                   Argentine ants.
21. Kings River.................  Factor A:           None known........  Uncertain. Depends  Habitat and
                                   extensive                               on remaining        species surveys.
                                   agriculture,                            habitat quantity/   Assess potential
                                   resulting in                            quality,            causes of loss of
                                   narrow riparian                         subspecies          species
                                   corridor                                resurvey, or        occupancy.
                                   downstream and                          recolonization      Identify remedial
                                   near dam; wider                         event. Some adult   measures specific
                                   in split channel                        IDs in this         to cause(s).
                                   area; sparse but                        location have
                                   unimpacted                              been questioned.
                                   upstream.
                                   Subspecies may be
                                   extirpated
                                   (negative 2010
                                   survey) for
                                   unknown reasons.
22. Kaweah River................  Factor A:           Some sites          Fair. Likely        Habitat and
                                   development         protected as        declining with      subspecies
                                   variable (limited   mitigation for      growth of Visalia   surveys. Identify
                                   above Isabella;     impacts of Corps    or increase in      restoration and
                                   extensive           dam works; other    agricultural        protection
                                   agriculture and     protections         intensity.          opportunities.
                                   significant urban   unknown.            Persistence and
                                   below Isabella),                        presence
                                   resulting in                            uncertain. ID not
                                   sparse/narrow/                          confirmed.
                                   intermittent
                                   riparian corridor
                                   downstream in
                                   split channels;
                                   partially
                                   channelized/
                                   largely
                                   devegetated.
23. Tule River-Deer Creek.......  Factor A:           None known........  Uncertain due to    Evaluate human
                                   encroachment by                         age/infrequency     usage and
                                   agriculture/urban                       of surveys,         identify
                                   development;                            limited habitat,    management needs.
                                   trails/human use                        absence of adults   Habitat and
                                   in corridor;                            to confirm ID.      subspecies
                                   flood control                                               surveys. Identify
                                   activities;                                                 enhancement and
                                   narrow sparse                                               restoration
                                   riparian                                                    opportunities.
                                   vegetation.
                                  Factor C:
                                   Argentine ants.
24. Kern River (excluding         Factor A: urban/    None known........  Fair (and           Habitat and
 Caliente Creek).                  suburban                                declining).         subspecies
                                   development;                            Narrow              surveys. Assess
                                   roads and trails;                       intermittent        and identify
                                   vegetation                              corridor of         restoration and
                                   clearing and                            questionable        protection
                                   diversion                               quality includes    opportunities
                                   downstream.                             some elderberry,    that could
                                  Factor E: human                          but heavily         enhance habitat.
                                   use (trails).                           impacted.
                                                                           Persistence and
                                                                           presence
                                                                           (including
                                                                           species ID)
                                                                           uncertain.
25. Caliente Creek..............  Factor A: nearby    None known........  Unknown due to      Conduct more
                                   roadway; some                           suspect/old         thorough habitat
                                   trails in a                             record (exit hole   and subspecies
                                   portion of                              condition; 1,000-   surveys to verify
                                   riparian                                2,400 foot          extent of
                                   vegetation;                             elevation). No      elderberry, exit
                                   sparse                                  information         holes in
                                   residential and                         before 1991. ID     mainstem, and
                                   ranching use;                           questioned.         tributaries.
                                   completely                                                  Adult ID
                                   channelized and                                             especially since
                                   devegetated in                                              at elevation may
                                   Central Valley;                                             be unlisted
                                   portion in                                                  California
                                   foothills has                                               elderberry
                                   intermittent                                                longhorn beetle
                                   riparian                                                    species.
                                   vegetation,
                                   infrequent
                                   elderberry on
                                   creek, and on
                                   nearby upland and
                                   entering
                                   tributary.

[[Page 60269]]

 
26. San Joaquin River...........  Factor A:           Parkway from        Fair (in best       Conduct further
                                   intensive           Millerton to        areas), otherwise   habitat and
                                   agriculture; some   Fresno; some        mostly poor.        subspecies
                                   urban development   protections but     Sparse              surveys. Assess
                                   (Fresno); flood     not necessarily     elderberry, low     restoration
                                   control             for the beetle.     occupancy. May      opportunities for
                                   throughout;         Limited Central     improve with        elderberry,
                                   portion nearest     Valley Joint        planting age or     including the
                                   to Friant has       Venture riparian    other nonbeetle-    addition of
                                   riparian            easements, mostly   specific            elderberry to
                                   corridor, but       not elderberry.     restoration.        ongoing or
                                   much of this        Some elderberry                         proposed
                                   system is           plantings on NWRs.                      restorations.
                                   completely
                                   devegetated.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Table acronyms: ID--taxonomic identification of the subspecies, whether listed or common beetle; ETL--Corps
  Engineering Technical Letter; DWR--Department of Water Resources; SHA--Safe Harbor Agreement; NWR--National
  Wildlife Refuge; J and ring--structural levee alternatives, sometimes located away from a floodway or riparian
  zone, as such these alternatives could provide local flood protection to higher value urban areas (such as
  communities of Live Oak and Gridley west of the Feather River), and avoid the impacts and need for vegetative
  maintenance associated with improving the levee in its current location (also known as ``in place'' levee
  improvements).
\2\ The locations presented in this table are based on available data that provide detailed information about
  valley elderberry longhorn beetle presence. Additional locations were not included in this table due to a lack
  of sufficient information that provides certainty on valley elderberry longhorn beetle presence (areas with
  extremely limited habitat, locations that are exclusively at higher elevation that abut with the range of the
  California elderberry longhorn beetle, a record of a single shrub, etc.).
\3\ Pervasive threats (all sites): Factor C--The specific threat of Argentine ant denotes those sites with
  documented presence; there has been inadequate or no sampling at other sites to make a determination. However,
  based on the widespread infestation of Argentine ant in nursery stock and lack of control, we believe this
  threat applies to all sites until shown otherwise; Factor D--The inadequacies of regulatory mechanisms, as
  described in the text, applies to a variable extent to all sites; Factor E--The specific threats noted are
  instances of human use noted in literature or aerial imagery; however, human use likely applies to portions of
  other sites. Additionally, as described in the text, Factor E includes other factors such as habitat
  fragmentation, small population size, and climate change that apply to all sites, and pesticide effects that
  applies to all sites with the possible exception of some foothill areas.

    The potential for valley elderberry longhorn beetle persistence 
varies among the 26 locations and especially between the north and 
south Central Valley. The following paragraphs provide a summary 
rangewide evaluation of the beetle and its habitat based on the five-
factor analysis presented above.

Summary--North Central Valley

    The north Central Valley has seven major locations, or portions 
thereof, where the beetle's persistence in the foreseeable future is 
likely due to a combination of: (1) Low threats and adequate protection 
measures; and (2) multiple and recent records, some with confirmation 
of adult beetles (Sacramento River north of Colusa, the lower American, 
Feather, and Bear Rivers, and Big Chico, Cache, and Putah Creeks). The 
protection measures include an array of existing and initially restored 
beetle habitat, and many have a wide or relatively unchanged riparian 
vegetation corridor with limited adjacent land-use, suggesting 
development or agriculture-related threats to these locations are 
reduced. Two additional locations in the north Central Valley were also 
deemed likely to persist, although both are smaller, and there is more 
uncertainty with respect to presence and threat due to the age of 
records, recent development, or uncertainties about threats and the 
need for protections (Butte Creek, Ulatis-Green Valley Creeks).
    Even in these north Central Valley locations where valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle persistence is most likely, the extent of 
elderberry shrubs has not yet been fully quantified nor consistently 
monitored. Threats, and the likelihood of valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle persistence, vary markedly along the Sacramento River. Threats 
are minimal and beetle persistence is considered at least average north 
of Colusa to Redding, where there is protected habitat on refuge lands 
and reports of beetle occupation (River Partners 2004a). Threats are 
increased and beetle persistence is considered fair to poor on the 
Sacramento River south of Colusa to its Delta confluence; most of this 
area has no woody vegetation of any kind due to extensive rock bank 
protection. As shown by confirmed adult male specimens (Table 1, 
location 1.e), a remnant population of the beetle persisted on the 
Sacramento River near West Sacramento until recently, when the 
remaining habitat was lost at the expense of recent flood control 
improvements. With the possible exceptions of the lower American River, 
the best known location of the beetle, every other location (including 
portions of locations in which we have deemed the beetle likely to 
persist) in the valley proper (the valley floor of the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin Valleys combined) has a major section lacking riparian 
vegetation that almost certainly does not support the beetle due to 
complete absence of habitat in that section (Table 2).
    Finally, there are no systems in the north Central Valley that are 
completely free of threats. In the American River and Putah Creek, for 
example, there are no, or limited, threats associated with development 
and agriculture; however, these areas continue to be subject to human 
use threats. There are management plans for the American River and 
Putah Creek locations (systems) that appear to be protected in their 
current ownership; however, the legal assurances for this protection 
and funding for implementation in perpetuity are unknown. Virtually all 
major rivers and tributaries in the Central Valley (both north and 
south) are subject to some level of effect from flood control 
operations and vegetative maintenance that affects or suppresses 
riparian vegetation (and associated beetle habitat if present), 
although this effect varies among locations and reaches within a 
location.

Summary--South Central Valley

    In the south Central Valley, the locations considered to have a 
good or average potential for persistence of valley elderberry beetle 
populations are those immediately south of Sacramento to about 
Stanislaus County (Cosumnes-Laguna-Dry Creeks, Mokelumne-Bear Rivers, 
lower Stanislaus River, Upper Stanislaus hills). However, the 
protections of existing riparian vegetation (including beetle habitat) 
are not well known for many of these riparian corridors. The Cosumnes 
River Preserve mentioned elsewhere in this rule covers only a portion 
of the Cosumnes River (perhaps 20 percent of its length), yet beetle 
records and habitat are largely outside the Preserve. Much

[[Page 60270]]

of the apparently intact riparian vegetation the Service has identified 
on aerial photos along the Cosumnes, Mokelumne, and Stanislaus Rivers 
is of unknown ownership (public or private) and protective status. 
Additionally, the actual extent of elderberry shrubs and beetle 
occupancy has not, to our knowledge, been determined. Records of the 
beetle are known in each of these locations since listing, but are 
infrequent (5 to 6 occurrence years in the 30 years since listing; see 
Table 1). Even less is known about the beetle on the Calaveras River, 
where records (including an adult) were known from isolated habitat in 
largely devegetated portions of the river near Linden.
    None of the other locations in the south Central Valley appear to 
have a good likelihood of beetle persistence (Table 2). This is because 
of the age of records, in combination with:
    (1) Significant habitat loss (such as Kaweah, Merced, Tule, and 
Kern Rivers) since listing;
    (2) Recent negative surveys (such as Kings River--Holyoak and 
Graves 2010, p. 8; San Joaquin River reaches 1B through 6--Kucera et 
al. 2006, p. 9 and River Partners 2007, p. 10);
    (3) Low occupancy (Stanislaus River; Holyoak and Graves 2010 p. 7, 
River Partners 2007, p. 10);
    (4) Absence of recent information (Calaveras River; exit hole last 
seen in 2000; adult in 1984) since listing;
    (5) Limited overall riparian vegetation (most locations, especially 
lower rivers, which tend to be devoid of any woody vegetation); or
    (6) Lack of protections or habitat quantification (most sites, 
except for San Luis NWR) (for additional location-specific rationales, 
see Table 2). Where there is habitat--often in higher elevations--there 
is a lack of positive subspecies identification via sightings of adult 
male specimens where the two subspecies likely overlap (higher 
elevation sites, such as Caliente Creek, upper American River vicinity, 
Kaweah River upstream of Lake Isabella). Even for the Stanislaus Hills 
location, which is a location that we presume the beetle persists, we 
have not been able to verify the identity of the adult sighting for 
this proposed rule.
    According to Table 2, a prospectus for persistence that is 
considered poor, fair, average, or good (as compared to best) does not 
mean that the valley elderberry longhorn beetle is likely to be 
extirpated from the south Central Valley without continued protections 
of the Act. In those instances, a lower than best prospectus is usually 
due to the diminished condition of the riparian corridor, higher 
magnitude of threat, lack of known protections, and lack of recent 
habitat or species information. Overall, there is not a significant 
difference in the prospects for persistence from north to south, with 
88 percent of locations in the north having the prospect of fair, 
average, good, or best, and 77 percent of locations in the south 
habitat a prospect of fair, average, or good.
    As a whole, the south Central Valley (as compared to the north 
Central Valley) exhibits reduced valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
presence, density, and quality of riparian vegetation on major rivers 
and tributaries, and largely channelized and devegetated tributaries, 
particularly on the valley floor. These characteristics may at least 
partially explain why the beetle occurrences are rarer in the south as 
compared to the northern portion of its range.
    Accordingly, we believe the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
populations in most areas in the south Central Valley are likely to be 
small and subject to occasional episodes of extirpation. Whether or not 
recolonization occurs would depend on proximity to other beetle 
populations within dispersal distance, which would be those in foothill 
habitats above and between the major reservoirs. Due to the lack of 
adult male specimens (or verification where such records exist) from 
these foothill areas, it is not known whether these foothill 
populations are the federally threatened valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle or the more common California elderberry longhorn beetle. 
However, the valley elderberry longhorn beetle's long-term persistence 
in the south Central Valley depends not only on recolonization from the 
nearest beetle population within dispersal distance, but also on the 
presence of habitat and protection of habitat from threats. In general, 
the amount of riparian vegetation and associated beetle habitat in the 
south Central Valley, particularly the valley floor, is much more 
limited than in the north, and habitat protections are largely unknown 
for most known beetle locations (Table 2).

Rangewide Discussion

    Rangewide, we believe that valley elderberry beetle populations at 
13 locations (or portions of these locations) have an average or better 
likelihood of persistence after delisting (9 in the Sacramento Valley; 
4 in the San Joaquin Valley). The remaining 13 populations (4 in the 
Sacramento Valley; 9 in the San Joaquin Valley) are less likely to 
persist (deemed fair-to-poor, some currently declining, with many of 
questionable current existence due to age of records, elevation and 
absence of confirming adult specimens, or apparent complete loss of 
habitat; see Table 2). Some of the locations in both the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin Valleys, where persistence is deemed likely in portions of 
the location (such as Sacramento River, Redding to Colusa), also have 
been determined to have major sections where persistence is unlikely 
due to habitat loss since listing or last observation of the beetle 
(such as Sacramento River, Colusa to American River and south to Delta; 
see Table 2 for other examples).
    The uncertainties identified in this analysis can only be resolved 
through additional study. Valley elderberry longhorn beetle occurrence 
data (based on the CNDDB data available) have some amount uncertainty 
due to:
    (1) The difficulty in verifying the species (because it spends most 
of its life inside elderberry stems, identification is mostly by 
finding exit holes, which can be misidentified);
    (2) The age of records (largely 1991 and earlier) and limited 
current and frequent surveys;
    (3) The fact that some records that were based on exit holes 
occurred at higher elevations, which--in the absence of adult 
specimens--could also be the unlisted subspecies;
    (4) The complete loss of elderberry shrubs from some of the 26 
locations during the period since observations were recorded;
    (5) In some of the 26 locations during the period since 
observations were made, more recent surveys did not find the beetle 
where elderberries still persist; and
    (6) Detection is limited at locations with low or naturally low 
beetle population sizes. More data, over a longer time period, would 
improve our confidence in persistence determinations for locations with 
small population sizes.
    Similarly, there is uncertainty as to the effectiveness of recent 
restoration efforts. Although approximately 21,536 ac (8,715 ha) of 
riparian vegetation have been protected through purchase or 
conservation easement, the proportion of this protected habitat that 
consists of elderberry shrubs, or would support elderberry, is unclear 
(i.e., beyond the 4,000 ac (1,619 ha) of existing plantings). 
Similarly, we still lack comprehensive information on the general 
effectiveness of habitat restoration and protection efforts, especially 
since the existing elderberry plantings are relatively recent and much 
is unoccupied. Even where plantings have resulted in beetle occupation, 
the rate of occupation varies (less than 0.1

[[Page 60271]]

percent to 7.9 percent of shrubs with exit holes; River Partners 2004a, 
pp. 2-3). The ability of these areas to support long-term populations 
of the beetle has yet to be established, largely because the 
restorations are still too young (at most 13 years old), and survey 
efforts too infrequent (1-2 times) to make a determination of long-term 
persistence or stability.
    There is also uncertainty as it relates to the actual amount of 
riparian vegetation (or other upland vegetation type) within the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle's range that can support elderberry and, 
potentially, the beetle. As presented above, only a portion of 
protected land is riparian, and only some supports (or has 
characteristics to support) elderberry. Central Valley-wide, about 1 
million ac (404,686 ha) of riparian vegetation have been lost since the 
turn of the century, and about 132,000 ac (53,418 ha) of that has been 
relatively recent (since 1960) (Geographic Information Center 2003). 
Based on our evaluation of available information for this analysis, we 
determined that of the approximately 132,000 ac (53,418 ha) of riparian 
vegetation left, a small portion of which is protected (21,536 ac 
(8,715 ha)), and a subset of this amount is actually elderberry (at 
most 5,000 to 7,000 ac (2,023 to 2,833 ha), but likely less). 
Admittedly, elderberries do occur outside of true riparian vegetation, 
and both riparian and nonriparian vegetation may support the beetle in 
its range outside the Central Valley proper. However, the extent of the 
beetle in these other areas (i.e., uplands in the Central Valley, 
foothills outside the Central Valley) would require more study 
involving adult male collection and identification to resolve with 
certainty. Even if there were significant numbers of elderberry shrubs 
outside of riparian systems, the extent to which these are used by 
beetle compared to riparian systems, and the extent to which these 
would offset shrub losses within riparian areas, has not been 
ascertained. Since listing, the rate of loss of riparian vegetation has 
slowed compared to historical times.
    Most valley elderberry longhorn beetle habitat, occurrences, and 
locations are outside of the 21,536 ac (8,715 ha) of protected habitat, 
and have no (or no known) protections. The restoration efforts and 
protected habitat are largely concentrated on refuge lands, which are a 
minority of the current range of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. 
Of the 23 beetle locations discovered since listing, 12 include habitat 
that is unprotected or whose protections are unknown. Resolving the 
uncertainties of the extent of threats and protections may be useful in 
identifying locations where additional protective measures would most 
benefit the beetle. Notwithstanding these uncertainties, it is clear 
that protections appear to be greatest in the north Central Valley 
where more occurrences are known.
    Of the 26 known locations, four include a significant component of 
well-protected lands with known beetle habitat mainly as State or 
Federal wildlife areas, and portions of six others contain some well-
protected lands. All or portions of seven locations are managed for 
open space or natural values, or are partially on city parks or Forest 
Service lands where the particular threat of habitat loss is reduced, 
but other threats from human use remain. All or portions of seven other 
locations throughout the Central Valley include private lands where 
(despite lack of formal protections) threats are presently reduced due 
to their remote or rural nature associated with topography, which 
limits the more pervasive threats of agricultural and urban 
development, or are currently the subject of a safe harbor agreement. 
The majority of locations contain some lands without protections, some 
of which are private or designated as floodways that could experience 
activities that affect beetle habitat. These unprotected locations 
encompass most of the range of the subspecies including riparian zones 
in major drainages. Therefore, we conclude that agricultural and urban 
development, levees, and flood control protection remain as threats to 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle in relation to the present or 
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or 
range, both currently and in the future (Factor A). However, these 
habitat-based threats are not considered significant when taken within 
the context of the increased number of beetle occurrences known today 
as compared to the time of listing.
    We have found nothing to indicate that the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle is threatened by overutilization, for any purpose 
(Factor B).
    While the valley elderberry longhorn beetle may be preyed on by 
Argentine ants (Factor C), and there is some evidence to indicate that 
a negative association between presence of the beetle and presence of 
the ant at some local sites may be related to ant density, the beetle 
has persisted alongside the ant in larger areas, such as Putah Creek 
and the American River Parkway, for over 10 years. As there have been 
no dense concentrations of the ants reported, predation is not believed 
to be a significant threat.
    In the absence of protection under the Act, the regulatory and 
other legal mechanisms protecting the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
from habitat loss would be minimal, except in areas such as 
conservation easements, mitigation banks, and National Wildlife Refuges 
specifically managed for the protection of the beetle (Factor D). 
Riparian vegetation restoration on private lands is implemented under a 
variety of State and Federal programs. While we would not expect a 
delisting of the beetle to affect the amount of riparian vegetation 
restored under these programs. If the beetle were delisted, we 
anticipate future losses of beetle habitat due to loss of regulatory 
protection under the Act, especially under sections 7 and 10, but that 
loss may be offset to a small degree by an increased private landowner 
willingness to include elderberries in riparian vegetation restoration 
on their lands. However, removal of the protections of the Act could 
result in increased losses where the protective provisions of the Act 
serve to deter habitat modification or destruction on otherwise 
unprotected private lands. Based on the best available data, we believe 
it is possible that habitat losses of this type may increase if the 
subspecies were delisted; thus, there may need to be a commensurate 
increase in restoration and conservation efforts beyond the State and 
Federal programs mentioned above to offset this anticipated increased 
loss. We do not consider the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms to be a threat currently nor in the future for the areas 
providing protection for the beetle and its habitat (such as portions 
of locations along the Sacramento River between Red Bluff-Chico and 
Chico-Colusa, the Feather River, and the Cosumnes-Laguna-Dry Creeks 
locations). For areas within the beetle's range where protections are 
less, the prospectus for persistence is considered poor at one location 
(the Colusa-American River confluence of the Sacramento River), 
uncertain at four locations (Yuba River in the north Central Valley and 
the Kings River, Tule River-Deer Creek, and Caliente Creek in the south 
Central Valley), and fair, average, good or best at all remaining 
locations (Table 2).
    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle has been reported from 
locations adjacent to agriculture where pesticide application may 
occur. Pesticides are rarely applied directly to riparian vegetation 
or, if they are used within riparian vegetation, are believed to be 
normally applied in a highly controlled manner to target species. This 
reduces

[[Page 60272]]

some of the potential exposure of the beetle to pesticides. Because of 
the proximity of beetle habitat to agriculture, the potential for 
pesticide exposure through drift remains and has been noted in 
association with a number of occurrences of the beetle. However, the 
relationship of persistence or occurrence of the beetle to adjacency of 
farmed lands that utilize pesticides has not been thoroughly examined 
(Factor E).
    Climate change might affect the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
through habitat effects (i.e., potential changes in temperature and 
precipitation patterns that could affect elderberry growth; Factor A), 
or other direct and indirect impacts to the subspecies, such as shifts 
in the timing of elderberry flowering relative to beetle emergence, or 
affects to the relationship of the listed and common beetle subspecies 
in some other way. We are not aware of information that would allow us 
to make a meaningful prediction about the extent of threats related to 
climate change (Factors A and E).
    Some valley elderberry longhorn beetle occurrences reside at least 
partially on publicly accessible areas that are subject to intended and 
unintended human uses, the impacts of which could result in incremental 
losses or reduction in the amount or quality of beetle habitat. Our 
evaluation suggests that this type of loss continues among the most 
important locations of the beetle such as the lower American River, 
Putah Creek, and other locations. However, available information 
indicates losses would likely not be frequent; thus, significant losses 
resulting from human use (including trails, cutting, pruning, and fire) 
in occupied locations of the beetle are not expected (Factor E).
    The best available information suggests that many local beetle 
populations are isolated from others by distances of greater than the 
estimated 25 mi (40 km) dispersal distance needed for recolonization. 
Based on review of occurrence records compared to aerial imagery and 
other documentation, loss of populations due to fragmentation, and 
small population size as a result of potential threats to the 
subspecies, we anticipate these impacts may continue in the foreseeable 
future (Factor E), although they are not considered significant when 
taken within the context of the increased number of beetle occurrences 
known today as compared to the time of listing.
    In this proposed rule, we have carefully assessed the best 
scientific and commercial data available regarding the past, present, 
and future threats faced by the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and 
conclude that the Act's threatened designation no longer correctly 
reflects the current status of this subspecies. While there are minimal 
surveys to comprehensively evaluate current presence or population 
trends over time, we believe the available data are sufficient to 
conclude that the beetle persists in several additional major locations 
that were not known at the time of listing, including some locations 
where habitat restoration and protection has taken place (i.e., 
Sacramento River, Feather River, and some adjacent tributaries). 
Records since listing show the beetle may currently occupy most of the 
26 locations identified and continues to persist in these locations, as 
is expected for some period of time into the future.
    This accumulation of records over the past 30 years establishes 
that the beetle's range is larger than was known at the time of 
listing, albeit patchily distributed in small populations. However, our 
listing anticipated the finding of additional populations in its 
determination of the threatened status (Service 1980, p. 52804) and 
identified these suspected locations in our Recovery Plan (Service 
1984, pp. 32-34). Specifically, there are 26 locations that have been 
documented to have been occupied since the subspecies was listed 
compared to 3 locations known at the time of listing. These 26 
locations occur throughout the Central Valley, compared to the 3 
locations known only from the lower American River, Putah Creek, and 
the Merced River (Talley et al. 2006a, p. 23; Service 2006a, p. 5; 
CNDDB 2010, pp. 1-202).
    Notwithstanding data uncertainties and the absence of protections 
or enhancements at many locations, we believe sufficient habitat will 
remain within this range into the foreseeable future and the subspecies 
no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened under the 
Act. Additionally, we believe the beetle will continue to persist based 
on: (1) The increase in number of beetle occurrence records; (2) 
increase in number of locations the beetle is found, including over a 
larger range then what was known at the time of listing; (3) past and 
ongoing riparian vegetation restoration; and (4) the persistence of 
elderberry shrubs in these restored areas, as well as a variety of 
public lands managed for natural values as open space.

Significant Portion of Its Range

    The Act defines ``endangered species'' as any species which is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range,'' and ``threatened species'' as any species which is ``likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range.'' The definition of 
``species'' is also relevant to this discussion. The Act defines 
``species'' as follows: ``The term `species' includes any subspecies of 
fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment [DPS] 
of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when 
mature.'' The phrase ``significant portion of its range'' (SPR) is not 
defined by the statute, and we have never addressed in our regulations: 
(1) The consequences of a determination that a species is either 
endangered or likely to become so throughout a significant portion of 
its range, but not throughout all of its range; or (2) what qualifies a 
portion of a range as ``significant.''
    Two recent district court decisions have addressed whether the SPR 
language allows the Service to list or protect less than all members of 
a defined ``species'': Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, 729 F. Supp. 
2d 1207 (D. Mont. 2010), concerning the Service's delisting of the 
Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf (74 FR 15123, April 2, 2009); and 
WildEarth Guardians v. Salazar, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105253 (D. Ariz. 
Sept. 30, 2010), concerning the Service's 2008 finding on a petition to 
list the Gunnison's prairie dog (73 FR 6660, February 5, 2008). The 
Service had asserted in both of these determinations that it had 
authority, in effect, to protect only some members of a ``species,'' as 
defined by the Act (i.e., species, subspecies, or DPS), under the Act. 
Both courts ruled that the determinations were arbitrary and capricious 
on the grounds that this approach violated the plain and unambiguous 
language of the Act. The courts concluded that reading the SPR language 
to allow protecting only a portion of a species' range is inconsistent 
with the Act's definition of ``species.'' The courts concluded that 
once a determination is made that a species (i.e., species, subspecies, 
or DPS) meets the definition of ``endangered species'' or ``threatened 
species,'' it must be placed on the list in its entirety and the Act's 
protections applied consistently to all members of that species 
(subject to modification of protections through special rules under 
sections 4(d) and 10(j) of the Act).
    Consistent with that interpretation, and for the purposes of this 
finding, we interpret the phrase ``significant portion of its range'' 
in the Act's definitions of ``endangered species'' and ``threatened 
species'' to provide an independent basis for listing; thus there are 
two

[[Page 60273]]

situations (or factual bases) under which a species would qualify for 
listing: a species may be endangered or threatened throughout all of 
its range; or a species may be endangered or threatened in only a 
significant portion of its range. If a species is in danger of 
extinction throughout an SPR, it, the species, is an ``endangered 
species.'' The same analysis applies to ``threatened species.'' Based 
on this interpretation and supported by existing case law, the 
consequence of finding that a species is endangered or threatened in 
only a significant portion of its range is that the entire species will 
be listed as endangered or threatened, respectively, and the Act's 
protections will be applied across the species' entire range.
    We conclude, for the purposes of this finding, that interpreting 
the SPR phrase as providing an independent basis for listing is the 
best interpretation of the Act because it is consistent with the 
purposes and the plain meaning of the key definitions of the Act; it 
does not conflict with established past agency practice (i.e., prior to 
the 2007 Solicitor's Opinion), as no consistent, long-term agency 
practice has been established; and it is consistent with the judicial 
opinions that have most closely examined this issue. Having concluded 
that the phrase ``significant portion of its range'' provides an 
independent basis for listing and protecting the entire species, we 
next turn to the meaning of ``significant'' to determine the threshold 
for when such an independent basis for listing exists.
    Although there are potentially many ways to determine whether a 
portion of a species' range is ``significant,'' we conclude, for the 
purposes of this finding, that the significance of the portion of the 
range should be determined based on its biological contribution to the 
conservation of the species. For this reason, we describe the threshold 
for ``significant'' in terms of an increase in the risk of extinction 
for the species. We conclude that a biologically based definition of 
``significant'' best conforms to the purposes of the Act, is consistent 
with judicial interpretations, and best ensures species' conservation. 
Thus, for the purposes of this finding, and as explained further below, 
a portion of the range of a species is ``significant'' if its 
contribution to the viability of the species is so important that 
without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction.
    We evaluate biological significance based on the principles of 
conservation biology using the concepts of redundancy, resiliency, and 
representation. Resiliency describes the characteristics of a species 
and its habitat that allow it to recover from periodic disturbance. 
Redundancy (having multiple populations distributed across the 
landscape) may be needed to provide a margin of safety for the species 
to withstand catastrophic events. Representation (the range of 
variation found in a species) ensures that the species' adaptive 
capabilities are conserved. Redundancy, resiliency, and representation 
are not independent of each other, and some characteristic of a species 
or area may contribute to all three. For example, distribution across a 
wide variety of habitat types is an indicator of representation, but it 
may also indicate a broad geographic distribution contributing to 
redundancy (decreasing the chance that any one event affects the entire 
species), and the likelihood that some habitat types are less 
susceptible to certain threats, contributing to resiliency (the ability 
of the species to recover from disturbance). None of these concepts is 
intended to be mutually exclusive, and a portion of a species' range 
may be determined to be ``significant'' due to its contributions under 
any one or more of these concepts.
    For the purposes of this finding, we determine if a portion's 
biological contribution is so important that the portion qualifies as 
``significant'' by asking whether without that portion, the 
representation, redundancy, or resiliency of the species would be so 
impaired that the species would have an increased vulnerability to 
threats to the point that the overall species would be in danger of 
extinction (i.e., would be ``endangered''). Conversely, we would not 
consider the portion of the range at issue to be ``significant'' if 
there is sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation 
elsewhere in the species' range that the species would not be in danger 
of extinction throughout its range if the population in that portion of 
the range in question became extirpated (extinct locally).
    We recognize that this definition of ``significant'' (a portion of 
the range of a species is ``significant'' if its contribution to the 
viability of the species is so important that without that portion, the 
species would be in danger of extinction) establishes a threshold that 
is relatively high. On the one hand, given that the consequences of 
finding a species to be endangered or threatened in an SPR would be 
listing the species throughout its entire range, it is important to use 
a threshold for ``significant'' that is robust. It would not be 
meaningful or appropriate to establish a very low threshold whereby a 
portion of the range can be considered ``significant'' even if only a 
negligible increase in extinction risk would result from its loss. 
Because nearly any portion of a species' range can be said to 
contribute some increment to a species' viability, use of such a low 
threshold would require us to impose restrictions and expend 
conservation resources disproportionately to conservation benefit: 
listing would be rangewide, even if only a portion of the range of 
minor conservation importance to the species is imperiled. On the other 
hand, it would be inappropriate to establish a threshold for 
``significant'' that is too high. This would be the case if the 
standard were, for example, that a portion of the range can be 
considered ``significant'' only if threats in that portion result in 
the entire species' being currently endangered or threatened. Such a 
high bar would not give the SPR phrase independent meaning, as the 
Ninth Circuit held in Defenders of Wildlife v. Norton, 258 F.3d 1136 
(9th Cir. 2001).
    The definition of ``significant'' used in this finding carefully 
balances these concerns. By setting a relatively high threshold, we 
minimize the degree to which restrictions will be imposed or resources 
expended that do not contribute substantially to species conservation. 
But we have not set the threshold so high that the phrase ``in a 
significant portion of its range'' loses independent meaning. 
Specifically, we have not set the threshold as high as it was under the 
interpretation presented by the Service in the Defenders litigation. 
Under that interpretation, the portion of the range would have to be so 
important that current imperilment there would mean that the species 
would be currently imperiled everywhere. Under the definition of 
``significant'' used in this finding, the portion of the range need not 
rise to such an exceptionally high level of biological significance. 
(We recognize that if the species is imperiled in a portion that rises 
to that level of biological significance, then we should conclude that 
the species is in fact imperiled throughout all of its range, and that 
we would not need to rely on the SPR language for such a listing.) 
Rather, under this interpretation we ask whether the species would be 
endangered everywhere without that portion, i.e., if that portion were 
completely extirpated. In other words, the portion of the range need 
not be so important that even the species being in danger of extinction 
in that portion would be sufficient to cause the species in the 
remainder of the range to be

[[Page 60274]]

endangered; rather, the complete extirpation (in a hypothetical future) 
of the species in that portion would be required to cause the species 
in the remainder of the range to be endangered.
    The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions 
in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to 
analyzing portions of the range that have no reasonable potential to be 
significant or to analyzing portions of the range in which there is no 
reasonable potential for the species to be endangered or threatened. To 
identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we 
determine whether there is substantial information indicating that: (1) 
The portions may be ``significant,'' and (2) the species may be in 
danger of extinction there or likely to become so within the 
foreseeable future. Depending on the biology of the species, its range, 
and the threats it faces, it might be more efficient for us to address 
the significance question first or the status question first. Thus, if 
we determine that a portion of the range is not ``significant,'' we do 
not need to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened 
there; if we determine that the species is not endangered or threatened 
in a portion of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion 
is ``significant.'' In practice, a key part of the determination that a 
species is in danger of extinction in a significant portion of its 
range is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some 
way. If the threats to the species are essentially uniform throughout 
its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. 
Moreover, if any concentration of threats to the species occurs only in 
portions of the species' range that clearly would not meet the 
biologically based definition of ``significant,'' such portions will 
not warrant further consideration.
    We consider the ``range'' of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle 
to be the Central Valley of California, from Shasta to Kern Counties. 
Because the beetle is dependent on the presence of elderberry shrubs, 
we consider suitable habitat within the range to be those areas 
currently supporting elderberry. We consider potentially suitable 
habitat within the range to be those areas likely to support elderberry 
shrubs within the foreseeable future. We base this on restoration or 
protection efforts for riparian vegetation, or on plans for future 
elderberry restoration efforts.
    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle's range can naturally be 
divided into the Sacramento Valley to the north, and the San Joaquin 
Valley to the south. In Table 2, we conducted a spatial evaluation of 
the level of threat and extent of protective measures at each of the 30 
locations where the beetle is known to occur (which include 5 separate 
locales along the Sacramento River that when combined result in a total 
of 26 beetle locations) in order to determine if any portion of the 
range were at risk of local extinction. Based on this assessment, there 
does not appear to be a significant concentration of threats in any 
portion of the species range. Of the 30 locations, 17 locations occur 
in the north Central Valley, and 15 of those (88 percent) have a fair, 
average, good, or best likelihood of persistence. Thirteen locations 
occur in the south Central Valley, and 10 of those (77 percent) have a 
fair, average, or good likelihood of persistence. One location in the 
north Central Valley has a poor likelihood of persistence, and four 
locations (three in the south Central Valley) are uncertain due to the 
age of surveys, infrequency of surveys, limited habitat, or absence of 
adult beetles to confirm identification. Because high percentages of 
beetle locations in both the north and south Central Valleys have a 
fair, average, or good likelihood of persistence, this suggests no 
specific concentration of threats occur in the south Central Valley, 
nor within any given area within the range of the subspecies. 
Therefore, we conclude that no portion of the beetle's range is 
impacted to the extent that it warrants an analysis of its biological 
significance to the subspecies.
    It is our conclusion, based on our evaluation of current and future 
threats to beetle in the north Central Valley and south Central Valley 
locations (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section and 
Table 2), that the subspecies no longer meets the definition of 
endangered or threatened under the Act. Our estimates of the 
persistence of the beetle in those locations (Table 2) confirm that 
while a variety of threats affect the beetle in all or parts of its 
range, it nevertheless is likely to persist throughout its range.

Summary of Finding

    According to 50 CFR 424.11(d), a species may be delisted if the 
best scientific and commercial data available substantiate that the 
species is neither endangered nor threatened because of: (1) 
Extinction, (2) recovery, or (3) error in the original data for 
classification of the species. We consider ``recovery'' to apply to the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle because habitat protection and 
restoration efforts in some areas provide assurance that the subspecies 
and its habitat will continue to persist throughout its range, and 
additional discoveries of previously unknown beetle populations reduce 
the overall threat of extinction.
    Based on our re-evaluation of the existing or potential threats to 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle alone or in combination, we 
considered:
    (1) The number and geographic range of additional locations 
throughout the Central Valley identified since the time of listing; and
    (2) The amount of riparian vegetation restored and protected under 
numerous programs since the time of listing, again most particularly in 
the Sacramento Valley.
    Based on these factors, we find the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle no longer meets the Act's definition of a threatened (or 
endangered) species. Accordingly, we propose to remove it from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

Effects of This Rule

    This rule, if made final, would revise 50 CFR 17.11(h) to remove 
the valley elderberry longhorn beetle from the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife, and would also revise 50 CFR 17.95(i) to remove 
designated critical habitat for the beetle. The prohibitions and 
conservation measures provided by the Act, particularly section 7 and 
section 9, would no longer apply to the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle. Removal of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife would not supersede any State 
regulations.

Post-Delisting Monitoring

    Section 4(g)(1) of the Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, 
in cooperation with the States, to implement a system to monitor for 
not less than 5 years the status of all species that have recovered and 
been delisted. The purpose of this post-delisting monitoring (PDM) is 
to verify that a species delisted due to recovery remains secure from 
risk of extinction after it no longer has the protections of the Act. 
We are to make prompt use of the emergency listing authorities under 
section 4(b)(7) of the Act to prevent a significant risk to the well-
being of any recovered species. Section 4(g) of the Act explicitly 
requires us to cooperate with the States in development and 
implementation of PDM programs, but we remain responsible for 
compliance with section 4(g) and, therefore, must remain actively 
engaged in all phases of PDM. We also seek active participation of 
other entities that are expected to assume

[[Page 60275]]

responsibilities for the species' conservation, post-delisting.

Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan Overview

    The valley elderberry longhorn beetle's draft PDM plan, required 
under section 4 of the Act, is designed to monitor the threats to the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle by detecting changes in its status 
and habitat throughout its known range. The draft PDM plan is available 
for public comment concurrent with publication of this proposed rule in 
the Federal Register. The primary goal of the final PDM Plan is to 
monitor the species to ensure that any substantial decline in the 
species occurrences or any increases in threats are detected, and to 
take measures to halt either so that re-proposing it as a threatened or 
endangered species is not needed. Both this proposed rule and the draft 
PDM Plan acknowledge the lack of information available in certain areas 
(biological and geographical) for this subspecies. Regardless, we are 
moving forward with a proposed delisting rule for the beetle because we 
believe sufficient habitat will remain within this range into the 
foreseeable future and the subspecies no longer meets the definition of 
endangered or threatened under the Act. Additionally, we believe the 
beetle will continue to persist based on: (1) The increase in number of 
beetle occurrence records; (2) increase in number of locations the 
beetle is found, including over a larger range then what was known at 
the time of listing; (3) past and ongoing riparian vegetation 
restoration; and (4) the persistence of elderberry shrubs in these 
restored areas, as well as a variety of public lands managed for 
natural values as open space (see the Rangewide Discussion under the 
Finding section above).
    The draft PDM Plan provides information on the goals, duration, 
implementation, methods, and reporting schedule for monitoring the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle. If the final determination is to 
delist the subspecies, upon publication of a final delisting rule, the 
Service will convene a Science Panel (see section 4.7 in the Draft PDM 
Plan) to help develop a detailed monitoring plan, which includes site-
specific monitoring plans for each monitoring site established 
throughout the subspecies' range. This detailed monitoring plan will be 
developed based on site-specific parameters, including a standardized 
monitoring protocol. Additionally, there will be recognition of an 
adaptive management concept in the detailed monitoring plan that 
outlines how we may potentially revise the monitoring protocols based 
on new information received. The draft PDM Plan provides direction for 
the following measures to be implemented for a minimum of 10 years 
following delisting:
    (1) Identifying thresholds that trigger an extension of monitoring, 
adaptive management changes at protected sites, or a status review.
    (2) Continued monitoring of currently known occurrences, and 
conducting additional surveys to identify occurrences in new locations.
    (3) Refining the population and habitat baseline published at time 
of delisting against which subsequent increases or decreases in 
occurrences can be compared.
    (4) Determining overall and rangewide trends over 10 years of 
monitoring (with at least 3 of those years consisting of normal 
rainfall and air temperatures, specifically including trends regarding 
persistence of the beetle within watersheds and within protected areas 
such as conservation banks, select established mitigation sites, CDFG 
Wildlife Areas, the Sacramento NWR, and the San Joaquin River NWR.
    (5) Conducting studies to determine the continued amount (such as 
number of habitat acres or number of individual plants) and 
effectiveness of restoration efforts after delisting.
    (6) Developing an adaptive management strategy.
    (7) Creating a science panel to address issues that arise 
throughout the PDM process.
    Examples of specific monitoring objectives or activities described 
in the draft PDM Plan that address threats discussed in this proposed 
delisting rule include:
    (1) Collecting data variables that will indicate the abundance of 
suitable beetle habitat potentially available and occupied by the 
beetle (Factor A);
    (2) Counting the number and condition of elderberry shrubs to 
determine the overall quality of the host plant for the beetle (Factor 
A);
    (3) Monitoring management efforts by land owners to maximize 
efficiency of overall expenditures and help the Service, science 
experts, and cooperating partners reprioritize management efforts 
(Factors A, C, D, and E);
    (4) Sampling potential presence of Argentine ants and European 
earwigs to determine potential site-specific impacts or an increase in 
magnitude of this potential threat (Factor C);
    (5) Monitoring at known locations in addition to monitoring 
attempts to locate new occurrences, particularly for expanding our 
knowledge of the subspecies in the southern portion of its range 
(Factor E);
    (6) Determining effectiveness of riparian enhancement and 
restoration projects (Factor A); and
    (7) Collecting data on potential threats, such as implementation or 
changes in agriculture or other land uses adjacent to the monitoring 
sites, signs of levee maintenance, changes or impacts from construction 
or use of roads and trails, fire and fire control, vegetation clearing 
or control, and herbicide use (Factors A, C, D, and E).
    The loss of a valley elderberry longhorn beetle occurrence or 
location could be an indication of a problem. Therefore, if a beetle 
location or an important area (such as a large block of beetle habitat) 
is lost, the potential causes will be investigated and remedial action 
taken as outlined in the draft PDM Plan. The PDM Plan would accomplish 
the objectives through cooperation with the appropriate Federal, State, 
and local agencies; private partners; and species experts, thus 
fulfilling the goal to prevent the species from needing Federal 
protection once again, per the Act. We seek public and peer reviewer 
comments regarding the draft PDM Plan, including its objectives and 
procedures (see Public Comments section above).

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. 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.

[[Page 60276]]

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The OMB regulations at 5 CFR 1320 implement provisions of the 
Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). The OMB regulations 
at 5 CFR 1320.3(c) define a collection of information as the obtaining 
of information by or for an agency by means of identical questions 
posed to, or identical reporting, recordkeeping, or disclosure 
requirements imposed on, 10 or more persons. Furthermore, 5 CFR 
1320.3(c)(4) specifies that ``ten or more persons'' refers to the 
persons to whom a collection of information is addressed by the agency 
within any 12-month period. For purposes of this definition, employees 
of the Federal Government are not included. We may not conduct or 
sponsor and you are not required to respond to, a collection of 
information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.
    This proposed 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

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in connection 
with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this 
determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244; 
October 25, 1983).

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: (a) Be logically 
organized; (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (c) 
Use clear language rather than jargon; (d) Be divided into short 
sections and sentences; and (e) 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.

References Cited

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

Authors

    The primary authors of this document are the staff of the 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

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--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

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

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.


Sec.  17.11  [Amended]

    2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry ``Beetle, valley 
elderberry longhorn'' under ``INSECTS'' from the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife.


Sec.  17.95  [Amended]

    3. Amend Sec.  17.95(i) by removing the critical habitat entry for 
``Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus 
dimorphus).''

    Dated: September 12, 2012.
David Cottingham,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-23843 Filed 10-1-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P