[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 192 (Wednesday, October 3, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 60509-60579]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-23853]



[[Page 60509]]

Vol. 77

Wednesday,

No. 192

October 3, 2012

Part II





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; 12-Month Finding for the 
Lemmon Fleabane; Endangered Status for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus and the 
Fickeisen Plains Cactus and Designation of Critical Habitat; Proposed 
Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 192 / Wednesday, October 3, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0061; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY51


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
for the Lemmon Fleabane; Endangered Status for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus 
and the Fickeisen Plains Cactus and Designation of Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; 12-month finding.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
12-month finding on a petition to list as an endangered or threatened 
species Erigeron lemmonii (Lemmon fleabane). After a review of the best 
available scientific information we find that listing the Lemmon 
fleabane as an endangered or threatened species is no longer warranted, 
and therefore we are removing this species from the candidate list. We 
propose to list Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis (acu[ntilde]a 
cactus) and Pediocactus peeblesianus var. fickeiseniae (Fickeisen 
plains cactus) as an endangered species, and we propose to designate 
critical habitat for both cactus species under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (Act). If finalized, the effect of these 
regulations would be to add acu[ntilde]a cactus and Fickeisen plains 
cactus to the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants and to designate 
critical habitat for these species.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
December 3, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be received by 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests 
for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by November 19, 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 Keyword box, enter Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-
2012-0061, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the 
Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type 
heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You 
may submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2012-0061; 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 the Information Requested section below for more information).
    The coordinates or plot points or both from which the critical 
habitat maps are generated are included in the administrative record 
for this rulemaking and are available at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/, http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-
0061, and at the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting 
information that we may develop for this rulemaking will also be 
available at the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and Field Office 
set out above, and may also be included in the preamble and/or at 
www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 
2321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021; telephone (602) 
242-0210; facsimile (602) 242-2513. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended a species may warrant protection through listing if it 
is an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range. The Act sets forth procedures for adding species 
to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. This document 
consists of a 12-month not-warranted finding and withdrawal of Erigeron 
lemmonii (Lemmon fleabane) from the candidate list, and a proposed rule 
to list Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis (acu[ntilde]a cactus) 
and Pediocactus peeblesianus var. fickeiseniae (Fickeisen plains 
cactus) as endangered species and to designate critical habitat. For 
the remainder of this document, these species will be referred to by 
their common names.
    The Endangered Species Act provides the basis for our action. Under 
the Act, we can determine that a species is an endangered or threatened 
species 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 have determined that the Lemmon fleabane does no longer warrant 
listing. Through our five factor analysis, we have determined that the 
previously recognized threats to the Lemmon fleabane do not rise to a 
level of significance such that the species is in danger of extinction 
now or likely to become so in the foreseeable future.
    We have determined that the following are threats to the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus:
     United States--Mexico border activities including 
inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms, and
     Predation by native insect and small mammal predators, in 
combination with other natural or manmade factors, including natural 
environmental variability and climate conditions such as drought.
    We have determined that the following are threats to the Fickeisen 
plains cactus:
     Livestock grazing;
     Nonnative, invasive species; and
     Predation by native small mammal predators, in combination 
with other natural or manmade factors, including natural environmental 
variability and climate conditions such as drought.
    This rule also proposes designation of critical habitat for both 
species. Under the Act, we must, to the maximum extent prudent and 
determinable, designate critical habitat for any species that is 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species. We are required 
to base the designation on the best available scientific data after 
taking into consideration economic and other impacts. We can exclude an 
area from critical habitat if the benefits of exclusion outweigh the 
benefits of designation, unless the exclusion will result in the 
extinction of the species. In total, we are proposing approximately 
21,740 hectares (ha) (53,720 acres (ac)) for designation as critical 
habitat for

[[Page 60511]]

acu[ntilde]a cactus (Table 1) and approximately 19,901 ha (49,186 ac) 
for the Fickeisen plains cactus (Table 2). The proposed critical 
habitat for acu[ntilde]a cactus is located in Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal 
Counties, Arizona. The proposed critical habitat for the Fickeisen 
plains cactus is in Coconino and Mohave Counties, Arizona.

                         Table 1--Proposed Critical Habitat for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus
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       Federal                 State                  Tribal                Private                 Total
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       Ha  (Ac)               Ha  (Ac)               Ha  (Ac)               Ha  (Ac)              Ha  (Ac)
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             11,953                  5,773                  2,256                  1,757                21,740
           (29,536)               (14,266)                (5,575)                (4,342)              (53,720)
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                       Table 2--Proposed Critical Habitat for the Fickeisen Plains Cactus
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       Federal                 State                  Tribal                Private                 Total
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       Ha  (Ac)               Ha  (Ac)               Ha  (Ac)               Ha  (Ac)              Ha  (Ac)
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              6,671                  5,617                  3,865                  3,748                19,901
           (16,486)               (13,883)                (9,554)                (9,263)              (49,186)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are preparing an economic analysis. To ensure that we consider 
the economic impacts of designating critical habitat, we are preparing 
an economic analysis of the proposed designation.
    We will seek peer review of the methods we used in our proposal. We 
are seeking comments from independent specialists to ensure that our 
proposal is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and 
analyses.
    We are seeking public comment on this proposed rule. Anyone is 
welcome to comment on our proposal or provide additional information on 
the proposal that we can use in making a final determination on the 
status of these species.

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will 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 concerned governmental agencies, 
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly 
seek comments concerning:
    (1) These species' biology, range, and population trends, 
including:
    (a) Habitat requirements for pollination, reproduction, and 
dispersal;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for 
these species, their habitat or both.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing 
determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of their 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 their continued 
existence.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to these species and existing regulations 
that may be addressing those threats.
    (4) Additional information concerning the historical and current 
status, range, distribution, and population size of these species, 
including the locations of any additional populations of these species.
    (5) Any information on the biological or ecological requirements of 
the species, and ongoing conservation measures for the species and its 
habitat;
    (6) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), including whether there are threats to these species from human 
activity, the degree of which can be expected to increase due to the 
designation, and whether that increase in threats outweighs the benefit 
of designation such that the designation of critical habitat is not 
prudent.
    (7) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of these species and their habitat;
    (b) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of these species,'' within the geographical range 
currently occupied by these species;
    (c) Where these features are currently found;
    (d) Whether any of these features may require special management 
considerations or protection;
    (e) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing (or are 
currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the 
conservation of these species, should be included in the designation 
and why;
    (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential 
for the conservation of these species and why.
    (8) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
areas occupied by these species or proposed to be designated as 
critical habitat, and possible impacts of these activities on these 
species and proposed critical habitat.
    (9) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on these species and proposed critical habitat.
    (10) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other relevant 
impacts that may result from designating any area that may be included 
in the final designation. We are particularly interested in any impacts 
on small entities, and the benefits of including or excluding areas 
from the proposed designation that are subject to these impacts.
    (11) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be 
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public 
participation and understanding, or to assist us in

[[Page 60512]]

accommodating public concerns and comments.
    (12) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation 
of critical habitat and how the consequences of such reactions, if 
likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory 
benefits of the proposed critical habitat designations.
    (13) Information on certain populations of Fickeisen plains cactus. 
Specifically, there are eight populations where the Fickeisen plains 
cactus has been documented, but these areas have not been visited in 
over 18 years. Five populations are located on the Arizona Strip and 
are referred to as: Beanhole Well, Marble Canyon, Salaratus Draw, South 
Canyon, and Toquer Tank. The sixth population is located in proximity 
to Mays Wash that is south of the Town of Gray Mountain among Federal, 
State, and private lands. The last two populations are on the Navajo 
Nation. These eight areas are proposed as critical habitat for the 
Fickeisen plains cactus. We are seeking any information on specific 
population status of the Fickeisen plains cactus at these locations, 
whether these locations are currently occupied and contain the features 
essential to the conservation of the species, and the condition of the 
habitat.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Please note that submissions merely stating support for or 
opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request 
that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES 
section.
    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov. 
Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    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, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Organization of Document

    The layout of this rule is as follows: The 12-month not-warranted 
petition finding and candidate withdrawal for the Lemmon fleabane; the 
proposed listing of the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains 
cactus; the proposed critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and 
the Fickeisen plains cactus.

12-Month Petition Finding and Candidate Withdrawal for the Lemmon 
Fleabane

    This section summarizes the status and potential threats that we 
evaluated in order to determine that listing Lemmon fleabane is not-
warranted and to remove it from candidate status. Additional material 
that we relied on is available in the Species Assessment and Listing 
Priority Assignment Form for Lemmon fleabane. This form is available on 
our national endangered species Web site: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/ (search for ``Lemmon fleabane'' in the Species Search box).
    On July 1, 1975 (40 FR 27824), the Lemmon fleabane was included 
among 3,000 plant species under status review. We first identified the 
Lemmon fleabane as a category 1 candidate species on September 30, 1993 
(58 FR 51144). Candidates are those fish, wildlife, and plants for 
which we have on file sufficient information on biological 
vulnerability and threats to support preparation of a listing proposal, 
but for which development of a listing regulation is precluded by other 
higher priority listing activities. Candidate species were assigned a 
relative listing priority number in accordance with listing priority 
guidelines published on September 21, 1983 (48 FR 43098). On the basis 
of immediacy and magnitude of threats, as well as taxonomic status, we 
assigned the Lemmon fleabane a listing priority number (LPN) of 11, 
which is assigned when threats are of moderate to low magnitude and 
non-imminent. On October 25, 1999, we changed the LPN to a 5 to reflect 
threats that are of high magnitude but non-imminent, based on the 
threat of high severity fire and drought (64 FR 57534). Later, we 
decided a wildfire or drought would not adversely affect the entire 
population; therefore, on September 12, 2006, we changed the LPN to an 
8, reflecting threats that are of moderate to low magnitude and 
imminence (71 FR 53756), and this LPN remained in effect until the last 
Candidate Notice of Review in 2011 (76 FR 66370, October 26, 2011). We 
now find that listing this species is not-warranted, and we are 
withdrawing this species from candidate status because the previously 
recognized threats to the Lemmon fleabane do not rise to the level of 
significance such that the species is in danger of extinction now or 
likely to become so in the foreseeable future. Our rationale is 
explained below.
    The Lemmon fleabane is a tap-rooted perennial plant of the aster 
family (Nesom 2006, p. 342). The Lemmon fleabane occurs in crevices and 
ledges, on all aspects of tall, vertical-faced, and very cuspid 
(pointed) Escabrosa limestone cliffs of a single canyon, Scheelite 
Canyon, on Fort Huachuca on Department of Defense lands, in Cochise 
County, Arizona (Warren et al. 1991, p. 5; Malusa 2006, pp. 9-11). The 
habitat occurs over an area of approximately 50 ha (124 ac), and, as of 
2006, the population is estimated to support 954 individuals (Malusa 
2006, p. 9).
    The primary threat previously identified for the Lemmon fleabane 
was high severity wildfire, a phenomenon outside of the established 
fire history for the forests of the Huachuca Mountains. Scheelite 
Canyon is a narrow, shady, bedrock-laden cold-air-drainage, with higher 
humidity and cooler temperatures than surrounding areas; these factors 
aid in limiting the spread of severe fire within the canyon (Turner and 
Romme 1994, p. 59; Gebow and Hessil 2006, p. 21; Werth et al. 2011, p. 
27). In addition, Scheelite Canyon is a southeast to northwest 
configured canyon that blocks prevailing southwesterly wind. Strong 
southwesterly wind was a necessary component in the unusual fire 
behavior documented in recent high severity fires of the Huachuca 
Mountains, where southwest to northeast configured canyons burned 
downslope and burned very hot (Leiendecker 2012, pers. comm.).
    Although Scheelite Canyon currently contains a woody fuel load, 
fire experts believe the Lemmon fleabane itself is relatively safe from 
fire (Gebow and Hessil 2006, p. 51; Leiendecker 2012, pers. comm.). 
Recent documentation of two other rare, cliff-dwelling Erigeron species 
of the Chiricahua Mountains of

[[Page 60513]]

southern Arizona indicates that plants growing in cracks within the 
rockwall may be both resistant and resilient to high severity fire 
(Malusa 2012, pers. comm.). In the unlikely event of a catastrophic 
fire within Scheelite Canyon, it would be extremely unlikely that every 
Lemmon fleabane plant would be extirpated. This is because Lemmon 
fleabane plants occur on all aspects of rock face, on both sides of the 
canyon including the entrances of small tributaries, and at all 
elevations on the canyon wall from the canyon bottom upwards nearly 305 
meters (m) (1,000 feet (ft)) to the top of the canyon walls.
    In summary, there is a very small probability that Scheelite Canyon 
will sustain a catastrophic fire in the future due to the southeast to 
northwest aspect of the canyon in the landscape; its humid, shady, and 
cool nature; and the presence of exposed rock outcroppings throughout 
the canyon lending to a discontinuous fuel load. Should such a fire 
occur, it would threaten individual plants exposed to flame and heat 
(Gebow and Hessil 2006, p. 85); however, due to the plants occurring in 
a variety of locations within the canyon, it is unlikely that all 
plants would be affected.
    Recreational rappelling was noted as a minor threat to the Lemmon 
fleabane; however, we conclude that there is a very low probability of 
this type of activity taking place in Scheelite Canyon because 
recreational rappelling is not allowed by Fort Huachuca. Further, if 
unauthorized rappelling were to occur, the damage to Lemmon fleabane 
plants would be insignificant at the population level.
    In addition to fire and rappelling posing less of a threat to the 
Lemmon fleabane than previously believed, several conservation measures 
have recently occurred or are being planned. Although we did not rely 
on these conservation measures to make our not-warranted finding, they 
are underway and will benefit the Lemmon fleabane now and into the 
future. In 2011, the Desert Botanical Garden collected hundreds of 
viable Lemmon fleabane seeds for long-term storage. This collection and 
future-planned seed collection by the Desert Botanical Garden may help 
offset impacts to the species in the event of a devastating wildfire 
and habitat loss. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service is currently 
working with Fort Huachuca to reduce fire potential at a landscape 
level throughout the district and on Fort Huachuca itself (Leiendecker 
2012, pers. comm.). Finally, Fort Huachuca and the Service are drafting 
a conservation agreement which, once signed, will: (a) Ensure the 
continued monitoring of the Lemmon fleabane population and promote 
adaptive management based on monitoring results; (b) continue the 
restrictions on recreational activities in Lemmon fleabane habitat; and 
(c) encourage further research into the species' life history, 
population biology and demographics, and distribution.
    Through our five-factor analysis, we have discounted any threats to 
the species and conclude there are no significant threats to the Lemmon 
fleabane. We, therefore, conclude that the previously recognized 
threats to the Lemmon fleabane do not rise to a level of significance 
such that the species is in danger of extinction now or in the 
foreseeable future. Additionally, we are not aware of any other 
potential stressors or threats that may impact the species or its 
habitat by itself or in combination, including the potential 
environmental effects that may result from climate change. Current and 
planned conservation measures will also benefit the Lemmon fleabane, 
although we are not relying on these conservation actions as the basis 
for our not-warranted finding. As a result, we have removed this 
species from the candidate list.

Acu[ntilde]a Cactus and Fickeisen Plains Cactus

Previous Federal Actions

    On July 1, 1975 (40 FR 27824), we published a Review of Status of 
Vascular Plants identifying the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen 
plains cactus as among 3,000 native plant taxa being reviewed for 
possible inclusion in the list of endangered and threatened species. On 
December 15, 1980, we published a Review of Plant Taxa for Listing as 
Endangered or Threatened Species and identified the Fickeisen plains 
cactus as category 1 species (45 FR 82480). Category 1 species were 
those taxa for which we had on file substantial information on 
biological vulnerability and threats to support proposing them as 
endangered or threatened species. The acu[ntilde]a cactus was not 
included in the 1980 notice. Both the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the 
Fickeisen plains cactus were included in the February 21, 1990, notice 
(55 FR 6184) as category 1 species.
    In the September 30, 1993, notice (58 FR 51144) candidate species 
were assigned a status category indicating their status at that time. 
Each species was identified as increasing (I), stable (S), declining 
(D), or unknown (U). The 1993 notice identified the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
and the Fickeisen plains cactus as category 1-U: unknown, denoting 
species for which additional survey work is required to determine 
current trends.
    We discontinued the use of a category system in the February 28, 
1996, notice (61 FR 7596) and simply referred to category 1 species as 
candidate species. The acu[ntilde]a cactus and Fickeisen plains cactus 
were both assigned an LPN of 6, due to the high magnitude of threats 
which were non-imminent. We published four Candidate Notice of Reviews 
between 1997 and 2003, in which the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the 
Fickeisen plains cactus remained candidate species with an LPN of 6 (62 
FR 49398, September 19, 1997; 64 FR 57534, October 25, 1999; 66 FR 
54808, October 30, 2001; 67 FR 40657, June 13, 2002).
    On October 30, 2002, we received a petition from the Center for 
Biological Diversity to list the acu[ntilde]a cactus as an endangered 
species under the provisions of the Act. On May 4, 2004, the Center for 
Biological Diversity petitioned the Service to list the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus as an endangered species under 
the Act. Because these species were already candidates for listing, we 
did not issue findings on the petition. In the Candidate Notice of 
Review dated September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53756), we revised the LPN of 
the Fickeisen plains cactus from 6 to 3 based on direct mortality and 
reduced reproductive capacity resulting from off-road vehicle (ORV) 
use, trampling associated with livestock grazing, a continuing drought, 
and herbivory by rabbits and rodents. We also acknowledged that 
unauthorized collection of the Fickeisen plains cactus was a potential 
threat but we did not know at that time whether it was a continuing 
threat. In the notice of December 6, 2007 (72 FR 69034), we revised the 
LPN of the acu[ntilde]a cactus from 6 to 3 based on continued decline 
of the species caused by ongoing drought. An LPN of 3 reflects threats 
that are both imminent and high in magnitude, as well as the taxonomic 
classification as a subspecies. In plant classification generally, the 
use of the term variety, such as is used in the plants in this rule, is 
synonymous with the term subspecies. In the notice of October 26, 2011 
(76 FR 66370), we retained an LPN of 3 for both species.

Background

    For each of the two cactus species, we provide a description of the 
species, its life history, its habitat, an evaluation of listing 
factors for that species, and our finding for the species.

[[Page 60514]]

Acu[ntilde]a Cactus

    It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly 
relevant to the listing of the acu[ntilde]a cactus as an endangered 
species in this section of the proposed rule.
Species Description
    The acu[ntilde]a cactus is a small, spherical cactus, usually 
single-stemmed, that can be up to 40 centimeters (cm) (16 inches (in)) 
tall and 9 cm (3.5 in) wide (Arizona Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, 
unpaginated; Zimmerman and Parfitt 2003, pp. 194-195). The acu[ntilde]a 
cactus has 11 to 15 radial spines up to 2.5 cm (1.0 in) long and 3 to 4 
mauve-colored, up-turned central spines up to 3.5 cm (1.4 in) long 
(Arizona Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, unpaginated; Zimmerman and 
Parfitt 2003, pp. 194-195). Rose, pink, or lavender flowers 3.6 to 6 by 
4 to 9 cm (1.4 to 2.3 by 1.6 to 3.5 in) are produced in March (Arizona 
Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, unpaginated; Zimmerman and Parfitt 
2003, pp. 194-195). The fruits are pale green, are 1.25 cm (0.5 in) 
long, and contain small, nearly black seeds (Felger 2000, p. 208). The 
fruits ripen in April (Arizona Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, 
unpaginated).
Biology
    The acu[ntilde]a cactus relies solely on the production of seeds 
for reproduction, with pollination highly linked to survival, as the 
species cannot fertilize itself. Acu[ntilde]a cacti are pollinated by a 
suite of bees from the Andrenidae, Anthophoridae, Anthophorinae, 
Halictidae, and Megachilidae families; however, the leafcutter bee 
(Megachile palmensis) and cactus bee (Diadasia rinconis) are thought to 
be the primary pollinators (Johnson 1992, p. 406). The maximum distance 
that either of these bees travel is thought to be roughly 900 m (2,953 
ft) (see Critical Habitat section, below).
    Although we do not know the lifespan of acu[ntilde]a cacti, there 
are individual plants that have been tracked at Organ Pipe Cactus 
National Monument (OPCNM) since 1977, and are still alive in 2012 (Holm 
2012a, pers. comm.). The lifespan of seeds in the seedbank is unknown; 
however, in independent greenhouse tests of 6 and 4 year-old seed 
collected from two discrete populations, less than 19 percent and zero 
percent germination resulted, respectfully (Rutman 2007, p. 7). In 
tests of 1 and 2 year-old seed, germination ranged from 64 to 100 
percent, and tests of seed collected 19 days previously resulted in 82 
percent germination (Rutman 2007, p. 7). It is unknown if seed in its 
natural environment has the same short lifespan as has been 
demonstrated in these germination trials.
Taxonomy
    This species was originally described in 1953 by W.T. Marshall as 
Echinomastus acunensis (Marshall 1953, pp. 33-34). It is known by many 
synonyms, including Sclerocactus erectocentrus var. acunensis (Coulter) 
Taylor and Neolloydia erectocentra (W.T. Marshall) var. acunensis L. 
Benson (Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) 2004, p. 1). The 
Cactaceae treatment in the Flora of North America (Zimmerman and 
Parfitt 2003, pp. 194-195) recognizes the entity as E. erectocentrus 
var. acunensis. The other variety, E. erectocentrus var. erectocentrus 
(needle-spine cactus), is also recognized as a valid taxon in the Flora 
of North America. The two varieties are generally considered to be 
morphologically distinct and geographically isolated, but there have 
been questions regarding the morphology of some individuals (AGFD 2004, 
p. 6). To address those concerns, the Service funded a project to 
analyze the morphological distinctness of the two varieties, which was 
completed in January 2007. The results of this study suggest that there 
are four distinct taxonomic groups, including the separation of variety 
acunensis and variety erectocentrus (Baker 2007, pp. 19-21), and we 
concur with the study results. Therefore, the acu[ntilde]a cactus and 
the needle-spine cactus are valid and distinct taxa separated 
morphologically and geographically. Baker (2007, p. 20) recommended 
nomenclatural changes, based on the International Rules of Botanical 
nomenclature, but formal name changes were not proposed in his study. 
Again, we refer to the taxonomy determined by the Flora of North 
America.
Habitat
    The acu[ntilde]a cactus occurs in valleys and on small knolls and 
gravel ridges of up to 30 percent slope in the Palo-Verde-Saguaro 
Association of the Arizona Upland subdivision of the Sonoran Desert 
scrub at 365 to 1,150 m (1,198 to 3,773 ft) in elevation (Phillips et 
al. 1982, p. 4; Arizona Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, unpaginated; 
AGFD 2011, entire). This species grows on soil overlying various 
bedrock types including extrusive felsic volcanic rocks of rhyolite, 
andesite, and tuff, and intrusive igneous rocks composed of granite, 
granodiorite, diorite, and Cornelia quartz monzonite; Locomotive 
fanglomerate (sedimentary rock consisting of heterogeneous fragments of 
all sizes deposited in an alluvial fan and later consolidated) is also 
locally present (Rutman 2007, pp. 1-2; Anderson 2012a, pers. comm.). 
Mineralogy of these rocks is varied, with felsic or mafic phenocrysts 
present, depending on bedrock type (Rutman 2007, pp. 1-2; Anderson 
2012a, pers. comm.). Soil texture in these locations varies between 
bedrock and both coarse- and fine-textured substrates (Rutman 2007, pp. 
1-2). Associated plant species include Larrea tridentata var. 
tridentata (creosote bush), Olneya tesota (ironwood), Cercidium 
microphyllum (palo verde), Ambrosia deltoidea (triangle-leaf bursage), 
and Acacia greggii (catclaw). The acu[ntilde]a cactus is often noted 
growing under the protective canopy of these or other associated 
species (Phillips et al. 1982, p. 6; Butterwick 1982-1992, entire; 
Felger 2000, p. 208; Service 2011a, p. 1; Service 2011b, p. 3), which 
may act as nurse plants, thereby sheltering seedlings from extreme 
temperatures and providing some protection from mechanical disturbance 
(Nobel 1984, p. 316; Suz[aacute]n et al. 1996, p. 635).
Distribution and Range
    The acu[ntilde]a cactus populations are known from Maricopa, Pima, 
and Pinal Counties in Arizona and from Sonora, Mexico (AGFD 2004, p. 
2). In western Pima County, plants are known from the Puerto Blanco 
Mountains and adjacent Aguajita Wash and in the foothills of the 
Growler Mountains south of Dripping Spring on National Park Service 
(NPS) lands within OPCNM; from the Sauceda Mountains on Bureau of Land 
Management (BLM) lands; from Department of Defense military lands on 
the Barry M. Goldwater Gunnery Range (BMGR); and from private lands 
near Ajo. There is an unconfirmed report of acu[ntilde]a cactus 
individuals occurring on Tohono O'odham lands in the vicinity of known 
populations on BLM and BMGR lands; however this has not been verified 
(Howe 2012, pers. comm.). In Maricopa County, the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
is known from the Sand Tank Mountains on BLM lands within the Sonoran 
Desert National Monument. In Pinal County, plants are known from 
Mineral Mountain on BLM, State, and private lands. In Sonora, Mexico, 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus occurs on Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y 
Gran Desierto de Altar (Pinacate Biosphere Reserve) and private ejido 
(ranch) lands. Available information indicates that the current range 
of this species does not differ from the historical range, with the 
exception that the current Ajo populations likely had been part of a 
larger population that

[[Page 60515]]

occurred before mining activity began there (Rutman 1996b, pers. comm.; 
Rutman 2007, p. 7). However, there are no survey records for this 
species in the area prior to mining activity.
Abundance and Trends
    As the number of dead individuals documented within acu[ntilde]a 
cactus populations has increased greatly since study began in the 1970s 
(when tracking first began), it is important to track the number of 
healthy, unhealthy, and dead individuals. This not only allows us to 
document trends in total plant numbers, but can help in our 
understanding of the cause and extent of mortality.
Federal Land--Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (OPCNM)
    There is one large area of approximately 1,326 ha (3,277 ac) within 
OPCNM that contains as many as 2,000 acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals 
(Rutman 2011, pers. comm.; AGFD 2011, entire). In 1981, this population 
was estimated to contain 10,000 individuals (Buskirk 1981, p. 3). 
Within this area, two 20-by 50-m (66-by 164-ft) permanent monitoring 
plots were established in 1977, with the aim of investigating growth, 
mortality, and recruitment of this species. Between 1977 and 1981, 
there was 31 percent mortality in the plots (Phillips and Buskirk 1982, 
p. 2). Two more plots were added in 1983, and two more in 1988. From 
1988 through 1991, the population was thought to be stable or 
increasing (Johnson et al. 1993, p. 172). From 1993 through 2011, 
annual mortality was variable, but exceeded recruitment in most years 
(NPS 2011a, p. 2). In 2011, the total number of individuals recorded in 
all six plots was 39 adults and 10 juveniles, showing little change 
since 2010. This however represents a marked decrease since their peak 
in 1991, when 446 individuals were recorded in the plots, 221 of which 
were juveniles (Holm 2006, p. 9; NPS 2011a, entire).
    In order to verify the identification and location of plants, 
specimens are collected, pressed, and placed on sheets that are stored 
in herbaria. A 1952 herbarium collection from a second location within 
OPCNM is evidence that a second disjunct population of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus occurred historically within OPCNM. Current NPS staff were 
unaware of this herbarium collection, and the site, reported to be 
within 3 m (10 ft) of the U.S.-Mexico border, has not been revisited 
since 1952. Site visits in this area are currently considered 
dangerous, and therefore no efforts have been made to confirm the 
location of the population; we do not know if the population exists at 
this location.
Federal Land--Bureau of Land Management
    Sauceda Mountains--Within the Coffeepot Area of Critical 
Environmental Concern (ACEC), there are several small acu[ntilde]a 
cactus populations, each on less than 2 ha (5 ac) of land.
    In 1982, the BLM (Phoenix District) established three 20-by 50-m 
(66-by 164-ft) monitoring plots on Coffeepot Mountain. These plots were 
visited, and data were collected periodically between 1982 and 1992. In 
1982, 157 living and 3 dead plants were found within plots. Over the 
years of study, many new recruits were found; however, there was also 
ongoing mortality with newly dead individuals documented each year. A 
census of individuals from both within and nearby the plots in 1987 
found 310 living and 332 dead plants (Rutman et al. 1987, p. 2). BLM 
staff reported a precipitous decline of this population in 1989 
(Johnson 1989, p. 1). By the last monitoring visit to the plots in 
1992, 150 plants were recorded dead, 22 plants were recorded missing 
and presumed dead, and 150 plants remained that were either healthy or 
in some stage of decline (Butterwick 1982-1992, entire). A note to the 
files in 1991 stated that many individual plants were missing, dead, or 
dying, and that there appeared to be little regeneration in this 
population (BLM 1991, p. 1). The plots have not been formally measured 
since 1992, but the BLM has visited this site 21 times since then to 
assess general health and threats to the population. Field notes by the 
BLM botanist in 2007 mentioned that the number of living individuals in 
and near these plots had been reduced by half since the 2006 site visit 
(Anderson 2011, p. 2). Because no population estimates were made during 
either year, it is difficult to know how many plants survive in and 
around these plots. Field notes do indicate that few juveniles were 
seen in 2008, and no juveniles were seen in 2009; no mention of 
juveniles was made in 2010 or 2011 (Anderson 2011, p. 2).
    In 2006, a second population, estimated to be between 50 and 100 
individuals, was located 1.2 kilometers (km) (0.75 miles (mi)) 
northwest of the Coffeepot Mountain monitoring plots in Ryans Canyon 
(Rutman 2006, p. 2). Rutman (2006, entire) did not mention size class 
or health of this population. This site has not been revisited.
    A third population was discovered in 2006, 1.4 km (0.87 mi) to the 
northeast of the Coffeepot Mountain monitoring plots. Approximately 30 
acu[ntilde]a cacti were noted there at the time; 25 percent mortality 
was reported one year later (Anderson 2011, p. 1). An October 2011 site 
visit by Service and BLM botanists revealed 23 adult and 2 juvenile 
living and 15 dead plants at this location (Service 2011a, p. 3). A 
fourth population was discovered by the BLM in March 2011, in a 
location near the third population; 10 plants were noted. No 
indications were given as to the age class structure or health of this 
population (Anderson 2011, entire).
    At a site BLM calls Little Ajo Mountains, southeast of the New 
Cornelia Mine on less than 0.4 ha (1 ac), the population has fluctuated 
from 5 plants in 1997, to 7 plants in 2001, to 7 plants in 2006, to 11 
plants in 2007, to 7 plants in 2008, and finally to 12 plants 
(including 5 very small plants) in 2011 (Rutman 2006, p. 2; Anderson 
2011, entire; Service 2011a, p. 1).
    Sonoran Desert National Monument--In 2006, approximately 200 
individuals were reported from the Sand Tank Mountains in an area less 
than 25 ha (61.8 ac) in size. In 2007, the site was revisited, and four 
groups of individuals accounting for 125 of the approximately 200 
individuals were mapped (Anderson 2012b, pers. comm.; Anderson 2011, p. 
2). No indications were given as to the age class, structure, or health 
of this population (Anderson 2011, entire).
    Mineral Mountain--There are 3 individual acu[ntilde]a cacti growing 
on BLM land adjacent to 30 living plants and 22 dead plants on State 
lands. This population is discussed collectively below under State 
lands.
Federal Land--Barry M. Goldwater Gunnery Range
    In 1997, a single adult individual was reported from just north and 
outside of the populations in the Coffeepot ACEC (Geraghty et al. 1997, 
p. 5) within Department of Defense (DOD) managed lands on the Barry M. 
Goldwater Gunnery Range (BMGR); this site has not been revisited.
State Land
    Mineral Mountain--Plants were collected by Hart in 1992, from the 
population straddling BLM and State land east of Florence (University 
of Arizona Herbarium 2011, entire). There were no details of the number 
of individuals seen, just a map with three locations. In the 1990s, the 
BLM revisited this site and estimated 100 individuals scattered across 
3 ridgelines (Service 2008a, p. 1). In 2008, the Service and BLM 
searched this area. The Service and BLM found fewer than 20 living and 
many dead plants; no young plants were seen. In 2011, the

[[Page 60516]]

Service and BLM botanists revisited the location and found 30 living 
and 22 dead plants scattered across 4 adjacent ridgelines on less than 
5 ha (12.4 ac) of land; no juveniles were found (Service 2011b, p. 1).
    Ninety-Six Hills--This population is in the vicinity of Florence on 
less than 1 ha (2.47 ac) of land. Parfit (1977, p. 1) noted that plants 
here were common, but very localized. Many plants of various ages and 
sizes were noted, as well as many dead plants. Engard (1977, p. 1) 
noted many seedlings and mature plants and also that the plants were 
abundant locally. Rutman and Krausman (1988, p. 1) found 29 live plants 
and 6 dead plants in a 2-hour survey in the same general area. Breslin 
(2008, pp. 3-5) reported that in over 60 hours of survey effort in the 
area he had located 45 plants, 1 seedling, and 17 dead plants. On March 
20, 2008, the Service plant ecologist found 11 live plants and 10 dead 
plants in a 3-hour survey. In the same general area, C. Butterworth 
(2008, pers. comm.) found 32 live plants, of various sizes, except 
seedlings. He noted that seedlings were very noticeably absent. A 2011 
2-hour survey by three Service and BLM botanists revealed no living and 
two dead adults in this same general area (Service 2011b, p. 3). 
Because this population was not mapped with Geographic Information 
Systems, it is impossible to know if survey efforts in 1977, 1988, 
2008, and 2011 were all conducted in the exact same location within 
this general area. Therefore, it is not possible to conclude that this 
population has been extirpated.
Private Land
    Ajo Area--The combined area of these multiple sites is less than 
0.4 ha (1 ac) (Rutman 2007, p. 1).
    An isolated population near Darby Wells was first reported by Heil 
and Melton (1994, p. 14). Fewer than 10 plants were found at this site 
in 2007 (Rutman 2007, p. 4). There is no record if juveniles were among 
the plants found. The site has not been revisited.
    On Indian Village Hill, there were 102 plants in 1996, when the 
population was first recorded (Rutman 1996b, pers. comm.). In 2006, 30 
living and 33 dead plants were found; in 2007, a quick census noted 
fewer than 40 plants found (Rutman 2006, p. 1; Rutman 2007, p. 4). 
There is no record if juveniles were among the plants found in either 
year. In 2011, eight living and seven dead plants were recorded; no 
juveniles were found (Service 2011a, p. 1).
    There were 16 live and 19 dead plants on Weather Tower Hill in 2006 
(Rutman 2006, p. 1). There is no record if juveniles were among the 
plants found. The site has not been revisited.
    Florence Area--Roadside populations occur on less than 0.4 ha (1 
ac) collectively; any additional populations that may be present on 
private land occur on an unknown quantity of land.
    Roadside Population One--The 2011 site visit revealed 9 living and 
2 dead individuals; no juveniles were found, though all 9 were young 
healthy individuals (Service 2011b, p. 2)
    Roadside Population Two--The 2011 site visit revealed 2 living and 
2 dead individuals; no juveniles were found (Service 2011b, p. 2)
    There may be other locations on private lands unknown to Service or 
BLM botanists.
Sonora, Mexico
    Felger (2000, p. 208) noted the occurrence of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus between 3 and 18 km (2 and 11 mi) southwest of Sonoyta; no 
population estimates were made. Surveys of 7 groups of plants in this 
area from 2009 through 2010 revealed 659 living and 942 dead plants 
growing on approximately 1,700 ha (4,200 ac) (Pate 2011, pers. comm.; 
Pate 2011, map 1 and map 2). Pate (2012a, pers. comm.) noted seeing a 
few small seedlings among these plants.
Summary
    Presented below is the total estimate of living, dead, and juvenile 
acu[ntilde]a cactus plants in populations visited over multiple years, 
including census results from 2011 and from previous years if sites 
have not been revisited or population estimates not updated. Notable 
trends are the large amount of mortality within the populations that 
have been visited more than once and the low numbers of juvenile plants 
in the populations.
     NPS--2,000 plants, or 58.9 percent of known individuals; 
estimated in 2011 by NPS staff. This population estimate is down from 
10,000 individuals estimated at this location in 1981. Within the OPCNM 
plots, the number of recorded individuals peaked in 1991, with 446 
plants found. In 2011, 49 total individuals including 10 juveniles were 
noted within these plots.
     Sonora, Mexico--659 plants or 19.4 percent of known 
individuals; estimated from 2009 to 2010 surveys. Nine hundred and 
forty-two dead individuals were also recorded during this survey 
period. There are no previous estimates from this population. A few 
juvenile plants were noted during the 2009 to 2010 survey period.
     BLM--655 plants, or 19.3 percent of known individuals; 
estimated from 2011 and other recent surveys. At Coffeepot mountain 
within the largest BLM population, 310 living and 332 dead individuals 
were recorded in 1987. This population was reduced to 150 individuals 
by 1992, and was reduced to approximately 75 individuals by 2006. No 
juveniles were noted since 2008, when a few were seen.
     Private Land--48 plants (37 near Ajo and 11 near 
Florence), or 1.4 percent of known individuals; estimated from 2011 and 
other recent surveys. A single population that was revisited on several 
occasions showed a total population of 102 individuals in 1996; in 
2006, 30 living and 33 dead plants were found. In 2011, just 8 adult 
plants and no juveniles were recorded from this population.
     State Land--32 plants, or 0.9 percent of known 
individuals; estimated from 2011 surveys. At one location in the 1990s, 
the population was estimated to be 100 individuals; in 2008, only 20 
living and many dead plants were found with no juveniles seen. In 2011, 
30 living plants were recorded, including a new subpopulation 
previously not recorded. No juvenile plants were located in 2011. At a 
second location, in 1977, plants were considered common but localized, 
and the site supported many plants of various ages and sizes. Surveys 
of this area in 2008 resulted in the location of 45 adult plants with 
no juveniles found. In 2011, no living plants and two carcasses were 
located in this same area.
     Military BMGR--1 plant, or less than 0.1 percent of known 
individuals in 1997; the site has not been revisited.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on any of the following 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; and (E) other natural or manmade 
factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be 
warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in 
combination. Each of these factors is discussed below.

[[Page 60517]]

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

    Based on the habitat characteristics described above, potential 
factors that may affect the habitat or range of the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
are: (1) Urban development and site degradation; (2) livestock grazing; 
(3) border activities; (4) nonnative, invasive plant species; (5) 
mining; and (6) drought and climate change.
Urban Development and Site Degradation
    The immediate threats from urban development include the direct 
loss of individuals and habitat. Indirect impacts of urban development 
include fragmentation of acu[ntilde]a cactus and associated pollinator 
populations, which can reduce genetic vigor of the cactus and result in 
degradation and fragmentation of habitat adjacent to development. When 
development occurs, there is also an increased use of habitat for 
recreational activity, which may also deplete habitat and result in 
mortality of individuals. The acu[ntilde]a cactus populations in OPCNM 
and the Sonoran Desert National Monument are protected from the 
immediate threats associated with urban development due to their 
National Monument status. National Monuments are lands set aside and 
managed to protect the natural and cultural resources within; 
development is minimal, though some site degradation may still occur.
    To meet the country's energy demands, there has been a recent 
emphasis by the Federal Government to use BLM lands for development of 
renewable energy. Currently, there are no planned solar or wind energy 
projects on or near populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus in the 
Sauceda, Sand Tank, or Mineral Mountains (Werner 2011, pers. comm.). In 
addition, most populations on BLM lands are remotely located and 
relatively inaccessible; therefore, we do not anticipate development in 
these areas.
    As Arizona's population is expected to continue to grow in the 
future, both Pinal County and the State Land Department are promoting 
urban development in the vicinity of Florence (Pinal County 2009, pp. 
4, 60, 94; Guthrie et al. 2011, p. 1). When the housing market 
rebounds, it is likely that additional State lands in this area will be 
sold for urban development (Pinal County 2009, p. 42; Guthrie et al. 
2011, p. 2). In the vicinity of Florence, there are no current plans 
for development of State lands known to support acu[ntilde]a cacti. 
Private lands near Florence containing acu[ntilde]a cacti populations 
have been for sale as subdivided 16.2-ha (40-ac) parcels for many 
years. With the recent economic downturn, it is unlikely this land will 
be sold in the near future. The only known private land populations 
where access is readily available are at 3 sites near Ajo, totaling 
less than 0.4 ha (1 ac) and supporting fewer than 40 individuals in 
total (Rutman 2006, p. 1; Rutman 2007, pp. 1, 4; Service 2011a, p. 1). 
In most of the privately owned locations, the sites are littered with 
broken glass, bottles, and trash; however, plants appear little 
impacted by this habitat degradation (Service 2011a, p. 1; Service 
2011b, p. 2).
    Indirect urbanization effects to the areas that support the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus include ORV activity, which has been reported on 
BLM lands near both Ajo and Florence. These reports, however, showed no 
impact on the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations in 1994 (Heil and Melton 
1994, pp. 15-16), although habitat degradation and direct loss of 
individuals is possible from this activity. In 1988, the BLM closed the 
Coffeepot ACEC to recreational ORV use (BLM 2011, p. 194) and, in 1990, 
prohibited ORV use outside of designated trails within the Sonoran 
Desert National Monument (BLM 2011, p. 181). In 2011, the BLM Lower 
Sonoran Field Office released a Draft Resource Management Plan and 
Environmental Impact Statement (Draft RMP/EIS) for review (BLM 2011, 
entire). This document supports the continued prohibition of ORVs 
outside of designated trails within the Sonoran Desert National 
Monument (BLM 2011, p. 181). Within the Coffeepot ACEC, alternatives 
for motorized travel range from no use to limited use on existing 
routes, but all alternatives restrict travel off of existing routes, 
thereby reducing the potential for impacts to the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
(BLM 2011, pp. 181, 185-188). Once finalized, the new RMP/EIS for the 
Lower Sonoran and the Sonoran Desert National Monument will remain in 
effect for the next 15 to 20 years (Foreman 2011, pers. comm.). The 
impacts of ORV activity on State or private lands are unknown; for ORV 
activity within the border region, see the discussion below of border 
activities.
    In Sonora, Mexico, scattered populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
occur within 10 km (6.2 mi) of the town of Sonoyta. Although the area 
is reported to be little-used and unoccupied except by drug and human 
smugglers (Pate 2011, pers. comm.), in recent decades and as a result 
of human demand, the Sonoyta region has been heavily impacted by Olneya 
tesota (ironwood) and Prosopis velutina (mesquite) woodcutting for coal 
production, brick foundries, and tourist crafts, and the lands' 
subsequent conversion to exotic grasslands for cattle grazing 
(Suz[aacute]n et al. 1997, pp. 950, 955). This activity has affected 
more than 193,000 ha (478,000 ac) of lands in the Sonoyta region 
(Nabhan and Suz[aacute]n 1994, p. 64). In a study of ironwood 
extraction in northern Mexico, the Sonoyta study sites exhibited the 
highest number of damaged and dead trees, and had the lowest associated 
plant diversity (Suz[aacute]n et al. 1996, p. 642). It is likely that 
habitat parameters for the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations in Sonora 
are impacted by this activity, particularly because ironwood is 
considered a dominant associate of the acu[ntilde]a cactus (Phillips et 
al. 1982, p. 5) and may serve as a nurse plant for a variety of cacti 
(Suz[aacute]n et al. 1996, p. 635).
    In addition, the actions of harvesting, burning, loading, and 
transporting wood and charcoal can result in running over individual 
acu[ntilde]a cactus and causing injury or mortality of plants, if such 
actions occur in areas supporting the acu[ntilde]a cactus. Also, human 
population growth and development in the border region between the 
United States and Mexico has risen in recent decades (Brown and 
Caldwell 2008, pp. 1-6); it is reasonable to conclude that the direct 
and indirect effects of urbanization are likely to increase threats to 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations in this region. The populations are 
currently split by a major highway, Interstate 8, and a power 
transmission line; many plants occur within 200 m (660 ft) of these 
corridors (Pate 2011, map 1 and map 2).
    In summary, the direct and indirect effects of urbanization are 
threats to a portion of the known populations of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus. However, these effects are currently limited to the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus populations in the vicinity of Ajo and Florence in 
the United States and in the immediate border region of Sonora, Mexico. 
These areas collectively make up less than 21 percent of known living 
acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals across the range of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus. The majority of the range in the United States is protected 
from urban development because populations are on Federal lands, where 
little or no development will take place. In addition, most populations 
of the acu[ntilde]a cactus are relatively remote or otherwise protected 
from the effects of urbanization. We conclude that urban development 
and site degradation is not currently a threat to any entire population 
of the acu[ntilde]a cactus. As a result, based on our review of the 
available information, we conclude that the direct and indirect

[[Page 60518]]

effects associated with urbanization are not threats to the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus and its habitat.
Livestock Grazing
    In general, grazing practices can change vegetation composition and 
abundance and cause soil erosion and compaction, reduced water 
infiltration rates, and increased runoff (Klemmedson 1956, p. 137; 
Ellison 1960, p. 24; Arndt 1966, p. 170; Gifford and Hawkins 1978, p. 
305; Waser and Price 1981, p. 407; Robinson and Bolen 1989, p. 186; 
Holechek et al. 1998, pp. 191-195, 216; and Loftin et al. 2000, pp. 57-
58). These anticipated effects leave less water available for plant 
production (Dadkhah and Gifford 1980, p. 979). In addition, livestock 
can step on or knock over individual acu[ntilde]a cactus. Although 
other species of cacti may be good survival forage for livestock (Vega- 
Villasante et al. 2002, p. 499), herbivory of the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
has not been reported. Livestock grazing levels and habitat condition 
vary greatly between populations due to varied land ownership and 
management. A discussion of populations arranged by land management 
agency follows.
    National Park Service--Beginning in the early 1900s and continuing 
through the 1970s, lands within OPCNM were grazed heavily, with as many 
as 3,000 head of cattle and hundreds of burros present at a time when 
carrying capacity was estimated to be 314 cattle per year (Rutman 1997, 
p. 364; NPS 2011b, entire). Grazing by domestic animals was halted per 
NPS policy and has not occurred within OPCNM since 1976 (NPS 1997, p. 
33). Lands here continue to recover slowly after loss of soils and 
vegetation and may take many decades or centuries to recover fully (NPS 
2001, pp. 27, 124). Currently, OPCNM supports the largest population of 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus (59 percent of known living acu[ntilde]a cactus 
individuals), and we are not aware of historical effects to the 
population as a result of past livestock grazing.
    Bureau of Land Management--All four populations of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus on BLM lands in the Sauceda Mountains have been managed since 
1988 in the Coffeepot ACEC, which attempts to apply grazing management 
practices to ensure perpetuation of botanical diversity within the area 
and prohibits the development of livestock facilities that would serve 
to increase livestock use within the area (BLM 2011, p. 141). 
Collectively these four populations make up 13.1 percent of known 
living acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals. In 1987, when speaking of the 
then proposed Coffeepot ACEC, Olwell (1987, p. 1) noted relatively 
pristine conditions with no immediate threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
plants. At that time, however, the population of acu[ntilde]a cactus 
within the Coffeepot ACEC in the vicinity of permanent monitoring plots 
was reported to have substantial animal activity from cattle, javelina, 
and jackrabbits, with browsing, grazing, and soil disturbance noted 
(Rutman et al. 1987, p. 2). Anderson (2011, entire) noted no habitat 
impacts from grazing in this population during yearly visits from 1994-
2011. This population is the farthest population from a single cattle 
tank (see below) within the ACEC, and therefore is less subjected to 
livestock pressure.
    In 1970, a cattle tank named Conley Reservoir was established 
within the Coffeepot ACEC boundary prior to the ACEC designation and 
remains today (Foreman 2012, pers. comm.). A population of acu[ntilde]a 
cactus very near this tank was visited by the BLM botanist in 2010, who 
found abundant prickly pear (Opuntia spp.), which are known to increase 
with disturbance and are often cited as an indicator of poor range 
condition (Anderson 2011, p. 2; Johnson 2000, entire). A site visit in 
2011 by Service and BLM botanists found habitat impacts such as soil 
disturbance from both cattle and feral burros; however, no acu[ntilde]a 
cactus plants appeared to be directly impacted by these animals 
(Service 2011a, p. 3). Feral burros also impact vegetation on 
neighboring military lands (see Department of Defense section below).
    The new BLM Draft RMP/EIS has implications for future livestock 
management within the Coffeepot ACEC and the Sonoran Desert National 
Monument (BLM 2011, entire). According to this document, under 
Alternative A (the no action alternative), livestock grazing within the 
ACEC would not change from the current regimes with no livestock 
facility development permitted (BLM 2011, pp. 32, 141). Under 
Alternative B, livestock grazing only in times of suitable forage 
production (ephemeral) would continue to be considered, but perennial 
stocking rates would be reduced by approximately 40 percent, and no 
livestock facilities would be developed that would increase livestock 
use within the area (BLM 2011, pp. 33, 196). Under Alternative C, 
grazing allotments designated as perennial/ephemeral would be 
reclassified as perennial only, with no supplemental ephemeral grazing 
applications considered (BLM 2011, p. 34). Under Alternative D, all 
allotments currently open to grazing would become unavailable as 
permits expire (BLM 2011, p. 35). Under Alternative E, the BLM's 
preferred alternative, current grazing levels and timing would remain 
the same, but livestock facilities could be developed with the aim of 
improving natural resource conditions through greater distribution of 
livestock (BLM 2011, p. 171). It is unclear if additional tanks would, 
as is implied, relieve pressure on the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations; 
it is also unclear if this would increase the overall number of cattle 
(or burros) in the area or the amount of land impacted, thus 
potentially impacting more acu[ntilde]a cactus populations. Whichever 
alternative is ultimately chosen, the finalized version of this 
management plan will remain in effect for 15 to 20 years after signing 
later in 2012 (Foreman 2011, pers. comm.).
    In 2001, Presidential Proclamation 7397 (Clinton 2001, entire) 
created the Sonoran Desert National Monument; one population of 
acu[ntilde]a cactus containing 5.9 percent of known living acu[ntilde]a 
cacti occur in the Sand Tank Mountains. This area was designated for 
military purposes in 1941, and has had no livestock grazing for over 60 
years (Clinton 2001, p. 2). During a site visit in 2006, no habitat 
impacts from livestock were reported from this location (Anderson 2011, 
p. 2). The current livestock management regime of no livestock being 
permitted within the Sonoran Desert National Monument Sand Tank 
Mountains acu[ntilde]a cactus population will be maintained for at 
least the next 15 to 20 years (BLM 2011, pp. 36-40; Foreman 2011, pers. 
comm.).
    Department of Defense--A single acu[ntilde]a cactus plant was found 
on BMGR approximately 1 km (0.62 m) to the north of a known population 
within the BLM Coffeepot ACEC (Geraghty et al. 1997, p. 5). Livestock 
grazing is not authorized on the BMGR, though some trespass cattle do 
occur (Whittle 2012, pers. comm.). Feral burros on BMGR are a concern, 
however, and BMGR managers plan to implement a burro trapping program 
in the spring of 2012, in an attempt to reduce damage to vegetation 
(Whittle 2012, pers. comm.).
    Arizona State Trust Lands (State land)--Populations of acu[ntilde]a 
cactus on State land in the Mineral Mountains are subject to grazing; 
two land sections containing this species are collectively part of a 
larger 6,118-ha (15,118-ac) grazing lease with a total carrying 
capacity of 118 animal units (Sommers 2012, pers. comm.). Three 
individual acu[ntilde]a cacti from this group of populations overlap 
onto adjacent BLM land. This BLM land, which is not fenced from 
adjacent State land, has a total permitted number of cattle of 357 year 
long, though the lessee did not run

[[Page 60519]]

the full amount of animals in 2011 (Tersey 2012, pers. comm.). During a 
2011 site visit, the habitat appeared unaltered by livestock, and no 
cattle were seen (Service 2011b, p. 1).
    Three additional land sections near Box O Wash containing this 
species are collectively part of a lease of 12,369 ha (30,565 ac) with 
a total carrying capacity of 236 animal units (Sommers 2012, pers. 
comm.). Both leases incorporate State and BLM lands, although in this 
area the species has been found on State lands and not the associated 
BLM lands. No livestock were seen during the November 2011 site visit 
to this population (Service 2011b, p. 3). Only two dead individual 
acu[ntilde]a cacti were found, and neither appeared to have been 
knocked over by cattle (Service 2011b, p. 3). In the past, Rutman and 
Krausman (1988, p. 1) recommended that this State land habitat could 
benefit from improved livestock management, as cattle trails there were 
numerous during a 1988 site visit. In a 2008 site visit, it was noted 
that quite a few of the dead acu[ntilde]a cactus plants may have been 
knocked over by livestock (Service 2008b, p. 1). It is unknown what the 
grazing lease or animal units were for this period of time. In 2011, 
several individuals were noted to have grown additional arms following 
the loss of the growing tip (Service 2011b, pp. 3-4). This was possibly 
due to mechanical damage caused by cattle, a beneficial adaptation to 
disturbance noted previously by Phillips et al. (1982, p. 6). The 
populations on State land represent just 0.9 percent of known living 
acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals. Although livestock grazing on State 
lands may benefit from improved management, the impacts to the 
acu[ntilde]a cacti are small.
    Private--Populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus on private lands 
near the town of Ajo were noted to occur in degraded habitat with low 
species richness; these sites were suspected to have had a grazing 
history of severe use (Rutman 1995, p. 1). Those acu[ntilde]a cacti on 
private lands near Florence are in an unknown condition, as they are 
not typically visited by Service staff. Two roadside populations 
visited in 2011 had four dead plants and 13 healthy plants 
collectively; all dead plants seemed to have died from drought or 
insect attack, although one population did contain evidence (feces) of 
cattle use (Service 2011b, p. 2). Private lands account for just 1.4 
percent of known living acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals.
    Mexico--In Mexico, researchers report livestock grazing in parts of 
the Sonora range (Stoleson et al. 2005, p. 60), but mostly the habitat 
remains little-used and unoccupied land (Pate 2011, pers. comm.). 
Sonora maintains 19.4 percent of the known acu[ntilde]a cactus 
individuals across the range; their recent decline, as evidenced by 
nearly 1,000 dead plants counted in 2010, has not been attributed to 
livestock.
    In summary, 64.9 percent of acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals occur 
within lands protected from cattle grazing either by NPS or BLM 
National Monument status. In areas occupied by the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
where livestock grazing does occur, impacts from livestock do not 
appear to be a consistent or significant threat to populations. Based 
on our review of the available information, we conclude that, although 
there is evidence that grazing impacts to the acu[ntilde]a cactus do 
occur, we do not believe that these effects occur to such an extent 
that livestock grazing is a threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus and its 
habitat.
Border Activities
    Over the past decade or more, tens of thousands of people illegally 
attempt crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border into Arizona annually 
(cross-border violators) (Service 2011c, p. 14). As a result of 
increased U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Douglas, 
Arizona, area, and in San Diego and southeastern California, cross-
border violator traffic has shifted into remote desert areas such as 
OPCNM (Service 2011c, p. 14). For example, in 2001, an estimated 
150,000 people entered OPCNM illegally from Mexico (Service 2011c, p. 
14). With the increase in technology, border fencing, and manpower 
between 2001 and 2012, these numbers are down considerably, with 6,218 
arrests of cross-border violators from OPCNM in the year 2011 (Oliver 
2012, pers. comm.). Although the number of arrests does not represent 
all those who attempted to enter OPCNM illegally, this number is 
suspected to be considerably less than reported in 2001. Despite the 
fact that these numbers are down due to enforcement and deterrence 
efforts by the CBP, the thousands of people crossing through the border 
area illegally still represent a substantial impact to the resource.
    More than 78 percent of the known living acu[ntilde]a cactus 
individuals occur within 16.5 km (10.25 mi) of the border in either 
OPCNM or Sonora, Mexico. Cross-border violators, CBP, and NPS Law 
Enforcement (LE) activity in this area may degrade acu[ntilde]a cactus 
habitat by creating new roads and trails, disturbing vegetation and 
soils, and moving exotic plant seeds or plant parts, leading to their 
spread into unoccupied areas (Duncan et al. 2010, p. 124). At OPCNM, 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus occurs in an area that is closed to visitors 
due to dangers of drug and human smuggling; in addition, for many 
years, OPCNM natural resource staff have not been allowed to access the 
area without LE personnel accompanying them. Significant impacts may 
occur when travel moves off existing roads causing vegetation 
destruction, soil compaction (Duncan et al. 2010 p. 125), and, 
potentially, direct mortality of the acu[ntilde]a cactus by running 
over individuals, although no direct impacts to acu[ntilde]a cactus 
have been observed. Staff at OPCNM note that roughly 2 years ago, two 
vehicle tracks and associated articles of clothing from cross-border 
violators were found within one of the six 20 by 50 m (66 by 164 ft) 
acu[ntilde]a cactus long-term monitoring plots (Holm 2012a, pers. 
comm.). Although no individual plants were reported to have been run 
over in this instance, the occurrence of the activity within this 
proximity to acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals supports our conclusion 
that impacts from cross-border violators and border enforcement may 
negatively impact the species and could be a threat.
    In 2006, a vehicle border fence was completed in OPCNM. This fence 
has significantly reduced vehicular traffic from illegal entrants. The 
Biological Opinion for the Ajo Forward Operating Base Expansion 
reported personal observations by NPS and Service employees that the 
number of off-road tracks and new roads continues to increase (Service 
2011c, p. 19). These new off-road tracks and roads are believed to be 
the result of CBP response by vehicle, horseback, and foot to cross-
border violators, who are travelling primarily on foot (Service 2011c, 
p. 19). By 2011, OPCNM personnel had mapped thousands of miles of 
unauthorized off-road impacts from cross-border violators, CBP, and LE 
activities (Service 2011c, p. 18). Staff at OPCNM has been compiling 
data on off-road traffic and mapping unauthorized roads on OPCNM for a 
report. Prior to finalizing the determination on listing the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus, this report will have been completed and will be 
considered in the final determination. Although most of the 
unauthorized roads were created prior to construction of vehicle and 
pedestrian fences along the U.S.--Mexico international border, it is 
not known if the additional roads were created after the construction 
of the border fences. In 2011, NPS staff noted no new heavily utilized 
routes due to off-road travel by vehicles, but staff did state that 
single vehicles drive across habitat, and individual acu[ntilde]a 
cactus plants may be driven over. There is no

[[Page 60520]]

evidence that acu[ntilde]a cacti have been harmed, but damage to larger 
plants has been documented due to similar activity (Rutman 2011, pers. 
comm.). In cooperation with Service staff, CBP has begun efforts to 
educate Border Patrol agents on the locations and appearance of 
acu[ntilde]a cactus so that the areas that support the plant can be 
avoided to the maximum extent possible. Designated critical habitat in 
OPCNM will be marked on road atlases being prepared by OPCNM staff and 
provided to the agents patrolling in the OPCNM area.
    A system of sensors and communication towers is currently in place 
and is being expanded within the border region; this technology 
improves deterrence, detection, and apprehension of cross-border 
violators entering or attempting to enter the United States illegally 
(Service 2009, p. 5). It is expected that with increased communication 
and sensor tower technology, there will be a reduction in the need for 
CBP agents to patrol the area, thus reducing circumstances requiring 
vehicles to drive off of authorized roads (Service 2009, p. 16). CBP 
agents on foot or on horseback may conduct off-road pursuit of 
suspected cross-border violators at any time, including in areas 
designated or recommended as wilderness (Service 2009, p. 17). However, 
where there are exigent or emergency circumstances, CBP agents may 
conduct motorized off-road pursuit of cross-border violators, including 
in areas designated or recommended as wilderness. Where such motorized 
pursuits are necessary, CBP has committed to using the least intrusive 
or least damaging vehicle readily available, without compromising 
officer or agency safety.
    There are no existing or proposed communication towers near any 
acu[ntilde]a cactus populations within OPCNM; however, human traffic 
patterns have changed since the installation of towers in and near 
OPCNM. This change of pattern has created a larger impact footprint due 
to traffic moving farther from towers. In addition, communication and 
sensor towers and associated tactical infrastructure require 
maintenance and repair. Species proposed for listing, such as the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus, could be directly affected by repair and 
maintenance of this infrastructure if maintenance vehicles traveled off 
of approved access routes. However, CBP has committed to use only 
approved access routes for these maintenance activities. Therefore, 
these effects would be negligible for acu[ntilde]a cactus. In addition, 
if these maintenance and repair activities occur in undisturbed areas 
in the habitat of listed plant species, a survey must be conducted and 
a sufficient buffer created to protect any plants found (HDR 2012, pp. 
4-3).
    Illegal drug and human smuggling also adversely affects the area of 
the Coffeepot ACEC, but the area is less impacted than other border 
areas (BLM 2011, p. 344). This is likely the case with the other 
populations on private and BLM lands near Ajo and Florence. Within 
BMGR, cross-border violators and associated activities represent a 
significant threat to natural and cultural resources within the BMGR, 
including having widespread and adverse effects on soil and hydrology 
(U.S. Departments of the Air Force and Navy 2007, pp. 3-11). We are 
aware of no instances of illegal activity or law enforcement activity 
impacting the populations near Florence. The Service (2008b, p. 1) 
noted that little to no human activity, including ORV use, was observed 
during a 2008 site visit to these populations.
    The acu[ntilde]a cactus populations across the border from OPCNM, 
in Mexico, occur on land that is little-used, unoccupied, and subject 
to heavy traffic by drug and human smugglers (Pate 2011, pers. comm.). 
This area was reported to be not very safe, and warnings were given to 
Service personnel not to travel to this location alone (Larios 2011, 
pers. comm.). In 1993, the Mexican government established Pinacate 
Biosphere Reserve, a 7.7-million ha (1.9-million-ac) reserve for the 
region's flora, fauna, geology, and archeology preservation. A portion 
of the acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals in Sonora occur within the 
Pinacate Biosphere Reserve. It is unknown what, if any, protection this 
designation provides the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    In summary, the two areas containing the largest number of living 
acu[ntilde]a cactus (78 percent of the known living acu[ntilde]a cactus 
individuals) occur along the U.S.-Mexico border (in OPCNM and Sonora, 
Mexico). Within populations, acu[ntilde]a cacti are typically spaced 
within 3 m (9.8 ft) of each other, and thus vehicle traffic through any 
population could potentially impact many individuals. This area is 
heavily impacted by cross-border violators, CBP, and LE activity, as 
evidenced by the tremendous increase in illegal roads and trails 
documented by agencies along the border. To date, no individual 
acu[ntilde]a cactus plants are reported to have been lost to these 
activities; however reporting from this area is inconsistent. With 
anticipated continued border activity in the area, it remains possible 
that acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals and their habitat will be 
impacted. These impacts include: creation of new roads and trails; 
disturbance of associated vegetation including nurse plants and 
microclimates; compaction or erosion of soils; movement of nonnative, 
invasive plant seeds and plant parts; and the potential to cause direct 
mortality to individuals by running over plants with vehicles. 
Therefore, based on our review of the available information, we 
conclude that cross-border violators, CBP, and LE off-road activities 
are a threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus and its habitat.
Nonnative, Invasive Plant Species
    Throughout the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, invasions of the 
introduced Pennisetum ciliare (buffelgrass), Bromus rubens (red brome), 
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass), Schismus barbatus 
(Mediterranean grass), and Pennisetum setaceum (crimson fountaingrass) 
have altered nutrient regimes; species composition and structure; and 
fire frequency, duration, intensity, and magnitude (Brooks and Pyke 
2001, p. 5). Although most of these species were intentionally 
introduced as forage for livestock, as erosion control, or as 
ornamentals, each is now considered invasive and a threat to this 
ecosystem (B[uacute]rquez-Montijo et al. 2002, entire). Species such as 
buffelgrass are expected to increase their range even with continued 
and predicted drought events (Ward et al. 2006, p. 724). It is 
generally thought that invasion by exotic annual grasses will continue 
unchecked in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem in the future, reducing 
native biodiversity through direct competition and alteration of 
nutrient and disturbance regimes (Franklin and Molina-Freaner 2010, p. 
1671).
    Herbarium sheets contain labels that give information regarding 
where a specimen was collected, by whom, when the collection was made, 
and additional information such as what plant species were found in 
association with the collected specimen. There are no exotic species 
noted as associates on 39 of the 40 acu[ntilde]a cactus specimen 
herbarium sheets located at the Arizona State University, University of 
Arizona, or San Juan College Herbarium collections (ARIZ 2011, entire). 
These collections cover the range of the acu[ntilde]a cactus and date 
from 1952 through 2009. There was one specimen collected in 1982 that 
lists the exotic annual red brome grass as an associate. Although 
crimson fountaingrass found on nearby property was reported to be a 
possible threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus near Ajo (Falk 2005, pers. 
comm.), no exotic grasses were noted within the Ajo, Little Ajo 
Mountains, or Coffeepot ACEC habitats

[[Page 60521]]

during field surveys in October 2011 (Service 2011, p. 4). One 
researcher familiar with all known populations of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus noted no associated threats from exotic plant species in any 
population (Baker 2011, pers. comm.). In addition, researchers at OPCNM 
noted no present threats from any exotic plant species either within 
OPCNM or in populations of the Sonoran Desert National Monument (Rutman 
2011, pers. comm.).
    In summary, we have reviewed the available information on the 
effects of and occurrence of nonnative, invasive plants in or near 
populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus in southern Arizona and in 
Mexico. Known populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus are well 
distributed across southern Arizona and northern Sonora and occur in 
areas subject to effects from nonnative, invasive plant species. 
However, there are no populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus that 
currently show evidence of effects from nonnative, invasive species, 
and just one 1982 report indicates the presence of an exotic plant as 
an associate of the acu[ntilde]a cactus. While nonnative, invasive 
species could negatively impact this species, our review of the best 
available information indicates nonnative species do not co-occur with 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus presently; therefore we conclude nonnative, 
invasive species do not pose a threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus and 
its habitat.
Mining
    The immediate threats from mining activity include the direct loss 
of individuals and habitat. Indirect impacts of mining activity include 
fragmentation of acu[ntilde]a cactus and associated pollinator 
populations, which can reduce genetic vigor of the cactus and result in 
degradation and fragmentation of habitat and dusting of individual 
cacti adjacent to mines and associated roads. The acu[ntilde]a cactus 
populations in OPCNM and the Sonoran Desert National Monument are 
protected from the immediate threats associated with mining due to 
their National Monument status (NPS 1997, pp. s-iii; BLM 2011, p. 12). 
Currently on the Coffeepot ACEC, mineral exploration and mining are 
encouraged (BLM 1988, pp. 55 and 71). The 2011 Draft RMP/EIS for the 
Sonoran Desert National Monument proposes to continue the mining 
closure within the Sonoran Desert National Monument (BLM 2011, p. 181). 
However, within this same document, alternatives outlined for the 
Coffeepot ACEC allow for mining activities, but with various 
restrictions depending on the alternative selected. Because mining of 
metallic and nonmetallic minerals will continue to be allowed within 
the Coffeepot ACEC under the revised Draft RMP/EIS (BLM 2011, pp. 154, 
155, 196, 197), there is the continued potential for some loss of 
individual acu[ntilde]a cactus and fragmentation of acu[ntilde]a cactus 
and associated pollinator populations and habitat. There are no known 
mining activities planned on BLM properties, though a BLM parcel 
adjacent to populations on State lands near Florence may host a gravel 
mining operation in the future (Service 2011b, p. 1).
    Mining activity on private land near Ajo has a long history; the 
New Cornelia copper mine was one of the first open pit mines in Arizona 
dating to 1854 (Arizona Mining Association 2011, entire). This mine was 
closed in 1985, and a 2008 investigation by company owners determined 
the mine would not be reopened due to current economic conditions (Ajo 
Copper News Oct 29, 2008). As of 2012, the mine remains closed.
    The small populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus that remain in Ajo 
may have been part of a much larger population that occurred before 
mining activity began, but there are no survey records for this species 
in the area prior to mining activity. As a result, it is unclear to 
what extent the acu[ntilde]a cactus and associated habitat were removed 
due to historical mining in this area, but there was certainly some 
loss of individual acu[ntilde]a cactus and habitat. Rutman (1995, p. 1) 
noted that on the east side of the Ajo rock dump, roads, wells, 
prospecting holes, rock piles marking mining claims, and past use of 
explosives occurred immediately adjacent to the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
plants. Rutman (2006, p. 1) noted that habitat was lost when Indian 
Hill Village Road was built and that occupied habitat may also have 
been lost where the following buildings and infrastructure now occur: 
Assembly of God Indian Mission, New Cornelia mine, parking lot for the 
mine lookout, baseball diamond, and the large informal parking lot to 
the north of the hill. It is possible that these populations were at 
one time connected with the few plants to the southeast of the open pit 
mine on BLM land. There is little doubt that the historical size and 
range of the Ajo area populations of acu[ntilde]a cactus have been 
reduced.
    Mining threats on private lands near Florence are unknown. Threats 
from mining to the acu[ntilde]a cactus plants in Mexico are unknown.
    We are aware of no acu[ntilde]a cactus populations that are 
currently impacted by active mining. It is reasonable to project that 
some mining will occur in the future that could affect acu[ntilde]a 
cactus populations near Florence, Ajo, and in the Coffeepot ACEC. 
However, these effects will occur in limited areas that do not support 
a majority of known individual acu[ntilde]a cactus. The acu[ntilde]a 
cactus populations will remain well distributed across their range even 
if future mining activities affect a few populations. Therefore, based 
on our review of the available information, we conclude that current 
and future mining activity is not a threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
and its habitat.
Drought and Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate. The terms ``climate'' and ``climate 
change'' are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
(IPCC). ``Climate'' refers to the mean and variability of different 
types of weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a typical 
period for such measurements, although shorter or longer periods also 
may be used (IPCC 2007, p. 78). Thus, the term ``climate change'' 
refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or more measures 
of climate (e.g., temperature or precipitation) that persists for an 
extended period, typically decades or longer, whether the change is due 
to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 2007, p. 78). 
Various types of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects 
on species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative, and 
they may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant 
considerations, such as the effects of interactions of climate with 
other variables (e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-14, 18-
19). In our analyses, we use our expert judgment to weigh relevant 
information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of various 
aspects of climate change.
    Climate change will be a particular challenge for biodiversity 
because the interaction of additional stressors associated with climate 
change and current stressors may push species beyond their ability to 
survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325-326). The synergistic implications of 
climate change and habitat fragmentation are the most threatening facet 
of climate change for biodiversity (Hannah et al. 2005, p. 4). Current 
climate change predictions for terrestrial areas in the Northern 
Hemisphere indicate warmer air temperatures, more intense precipitation 
events, and increased summer continental drying (Field et al. 1999, pp. 
1-3; Hayhoe et al. 2004, p. 12422; Cayan et al. 2005, p. 6; Seager et

[[Page 60522]]

al. 2007, p. 1181). Climate change may lead to increased frequency and 
duration of severe storms and droughts (Golladay et al. 2004, p. 504; 
McLaughlin et al. 2002, pp. 6072-6074; Cook et al. 2004, p. 1015).
    The current prognosis for climate change impacts in the American 
Southwest includes fewer frost days; warmer temperatures; greater water 
demand by plants, animals, and people; and an increased frequency of 
extreme weather events (heat waves, droughts, and floods) (Weiss and 
Overpeck 2005, p. 2074; Archer and Predick 2008, p. 24). How climate 
change will affect summer precipitation is less certain, because 
precipitation predictions are based on continental-scale general 
circulation models that do not yet account for land use and land cover 
effects or regional phenomena, such as those that control monsoonal 
rainfall in the Southwest (Weiss and Overpeck 2005, p. 2075; Archer and 
Predick 2008, pp. 23-24). Some models predict dramatic changes in 
southwestern vegetation communities as a result of climate change 
(Weiss and Overpeck 2005, p. 2074; Archer and Predick 2008, p. 24), 
especially as wildfires carried by nonnative plants (e.g., buffelgrass) 
potentially become more frequent, promoting the presence of invasive, 
exotic species over native ones (Weiss and Overpeck 2005, p. 2075). The 
Sonoran Desert has experienced drought conditions since 1998 (Bowers 
2005, p. 421; WRCC 2012, entire). Recent trends for the region predict 
that climate of the region will become much drier in the next 2 to 3 
decades (Schwinning et al. 2008, p. 14-15). The impact of current and 
future drought, which may be long-term and severe (Seager et al. 2007, 
pp. 1183-1184; Archer and Predick 2008, entire), will continue to 
affect the acu[ntilde]a cactus and its habitat throughout its range.
    Climate change is likely to affect the long-term survival and 
distribution of native plant species, such as the acu[ntilde]a cactus, 
through changes in temperature and precipitation. Over the past 40 to 
50 years, the United States has experienced more extreme weather 
events, heat waves, and regional droughts than in previous decades 
(Karl et al. 2009, p. 27). The southwestern United States has 
experienced the greatest temperature increase in the continental United 
States; average temperatures increased approximately 0.8 degrees 
Celsius ([deg]C) (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit ([deg]F)) compared to a 1960 
to 1979 baseline (Karl et al. 2009, p. 129). By the end of this 
century, temperatures averaged across the Southwest region are expected 
to warm a total of 2 to 5 [deg]C (4 to 10[emsp14][deg]F) above the 
historic baseline period of 1960-1979 (Karl et al. 2009, p. 129). The 
frequency and intensity of high temperature extremes will increase, and 
heat waves currently considered rare will become more common (Karl et 
al. 2009, pp. 33-34). This region has experienced drought conditions 
since 1998 (Bowers 2005, p. 421; Western Region Climate Center (WRCC) 
2012, entire). Annual mean precipitation levels are expected to 
decrease in western North America and especially the southwestern 
States by midcentury (IPCC 2007, p. 8; Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181; 
Girvetz et al. 2009, entire). The current trend in the Southwest of 
less frequent, but more intense, precipitation events leading to 
overall drier conditions is predicted to continue (Karl et al. 2009, p. 
24). The levels of aridity of recent drought conditions and perhaps 
those of the 1950s drought years will become the new climatology for 
the southwestern United States (Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181). In 
summary, the drought the southwestern United States has been 
experiencing since the late 1990s is the worst in over 100 years and is 
being exacerbated by record warming (Karl et al. 2009, p. 130).
    Heat stress in adult cacti is minimal compared to other plant 
species as they are able to survive heat stress due to both morphology 
and metabolism (Smith et al. 1984, pp. 647, 650; Wahid et al. 2007, p. 
199). In a study of Sonoran Desert cacti, Smith et al. (1984, pp. 647, 
650) found that short cacti (such as the acu[ntilde]a cactus) and 
massive cacti had higher heat tolerance than most other cacti species 
studied, and more than vascular plants overall. They also found heat 
tolerance varied with stem orientation, stem diameter, and location on 
the landscape including a portion of the species' range (Smith et al. 
1984, p. 649). Extreme temperatures can, however, negatively impact 
seedling survival in many Sonoran Desert plants, and drought coupled 
with high temperatures lessens temperature tolerance in seedlings 
(Nobel 1984, pp. 310, 316). We found no additional information on 
projections for cacti in general, or the acu[ntilde]a cactus in 
particular, indicating the impacts of increased heat stress combined 
with increasing drought stress as climate models project. We do know, 
however, that drought or high temperatures alone can damage non-cacti 
species, and the combination causes more detrimental interactive 
effects on these plants than either stressor independently (Huang and 
Jiang 2002, p. 288).
    We are aware of several reports of drought stress apparent on 
individual acu[ntilde]a cactus. In cacti and other succulents, stem 
swelling and shrinking is typical with rain-drought cycles (Mauseth 
2000, p. 1107). At OPCNM, monitored acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals 
were reported to have shrunk in size from one year to the next, and 
researchers noted shrinking individuals may be dying (Ruffner 1989, p. 
1). In addition, 1986 datasheets from monitoring plots at OPCNM 
categorized cacti based on health of the individual; one category from 
the time was ``desiccated'' (dried out) (Buskirk 1986, pers. comm.). 
Although such descriptive categories have not been in use in monitoring 
for some time, OPCNM staff note their importance and would like to 
reinstate them in future monitoring (Holm 2012b, pers. comm.). In 
addition, plants already stressed from prolonged drought are more 
susceptible to insect attack and disease (Mattson and Haack 1987, p. 
110), and such attack is prevalent in all acu[ntilde]a cactus 
populations across their range (see discussion in Factor C. Disease or 
Predation). Mortality in measured plots at OPCNM was most severe in 
1993, when 40 adults were lost, and again in 1997, when 53 adults were 
lost; both of these were years with dry summers (WRCC 2012, entire). In 
the last decade, 78 adults were lost in these plots, and 25 of these 
losses occurred in the very dry year of 2007 (WRCC 2012, entire). 
During this same 10-year period, 31 new adults were recorded as 
additions to the population through recruitment (NPS 2011a, p. 2).
    In addition to the health of adult individuals, drought is directly 
related to acu[ntilde]a cactus population health with regard to 
reproduction and establishment. In his 3-year study of the reproductive 
ecology of the acu[ntilde]a cactus, Johnson (1992, pp. 403, 405) 
concluded that the positive association of rainfall and annual 
variation in the number of flowers produced indicates that water 
availability limits flower production in this species. Although Johnson 
cites yearly precipitation in relation to flower production, it seems 
more likely that winter precipitation is the driving factor, as flowers 
are produced early in the spring following winter precipitation events. 
Within monitoring plots established by Buskirk in 1977 (Buskirk 1981, 
p. 1), total flowers counted peaked at 902 in 1992 (Holm 2006, p. 10); 
corresponding precipitation during the winter of 1992-1993 was 29.7 cm 
(11.66 in) (WRCC 2012, entire). By comparison, in the last 10 years of 
measurement, the average number of flowers counted in these plots was 
198 (Holm 2006, p. 10); the corresponding average winter

[[Page 60523]]

precipitation during these years was 9.7 cm (3.8 in) (WRCC 2012, 
entire).
    Resource limitation may affect the acu[ntilde]a cactus seed set 
through ovule abortion (Johnson 1989, p. 11). Because flowering 
commences in early March and fruiting commences in late April (Johnson 
1989, pp. 5, 8), it is likely also that winter precipitation is 
correlated with fruit set. Fruit production was monitored at the OPCNM 
plots beginning in 2004, and has shown considerable variation since 
that time, with a low of 29 fruits produced in 2007, when total winter 
precipitation was 6.8 cm (2.69 in) and, a high of 361 fruits produced 
in 2005, when winter precipitation was 16.4 cm (6.47 in) (NPS 2011a, p. 
1; WRCC 2012, entire).
    Johnson (1989, pp. 5, 12) determined that acu[ntilde]a cactus 
seedling survival was dependent on summer precipitation and that soil 
moisture availability limits the distribution of the species. Rice 
(2001, pers. comm.) noted that in greenhouse trials of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus, seedlings and new recruits were primarily lost due to 
desiccation; emphasizing that establishment is the most critical and 
limiting phase of the acu[ntilde]a cactus life cycle. Throughout the 
species' range, rainfall has been declining, and drought conditions 
have been dominant since 1998 (Bowers 2005, p. 421; WRCC 2012, entire); 
this has likely influenced seedling survivorship (Holm 2006, p. 2-1--2-
13; NPS 2011a, p. 1). For example, in the measured plots at OPCNM, the 
recruitment rate peaked in 1992, coinciding with consecutive seasons 
with near to above average rainfall (NPS 2011a, p. 1; WRCC 2012, 
entire). In the Coffeepot Mountain BLM monitoring plots, seedling or 
juvenile plants were observed in all years when plots were measured; 
however, the number of dead plants far exceeded recruitment in any year 
(Butterwick 1982-1992, entire). In many site visits throughout the 
region over the past 10 years, there have been reports of low or no 
recruitment (Service 2008a, p. 1; Service 2008c, p. 1; Anderson, 2011, 
p. 2; Service 2011a, entire; Service 2011b, p. 3).
    In summary, since the late 1990s, the southwestern United States 
has been experiencing drought conditions and increasing high 
temperatures. Climatic predictions suggest continued less frequent, but 
perhaps more intense, summer precipitation, reduced winter 
precipitation; and increasing temperatures in this region (Seager et 
al. 2007, p. 1181; Archer and Predick 2008, pp. 23-24; Karl et al. 
2009, p. 24). Data from the acu[ntilde]a cactus monitoring plots at 
OPCNM and at Coffeepot Mountain, along with occasional surveys of these 
and most other populations, indicate major population declines have 
occurred across the acu[ntilde]a cactus range over the past 30 years. 
It appears that a combination of drought stress, warmer winters, and 
insect attack (see Factor C. Disease or Predation, below) have reduced 
adult plant numbers, while heat stress, lack of precipitation, and seed 
predation (see Factor C. Disease or Predation, below) have combined to 
reduce or halt reproduction. Because the current drought is occurring 
on a regional scale, and because climatic models predict future 
regional droughts, it is likely that all populations of the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus will continue to decline due to drought and the 
effects of climate change. In addition, it appears that drought and 
climate change in combination with insect damage and predation, as a 
combined effect, is the more likely scenario for rangewide level 
impacts to acu[ntilde]a cacti (see Factor C. Disease or Predation, 
below). Most, if not all, of the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations are 
impacted by drought and the effects of climate change, including 
effects to both individual cacti and to productivity and establishment. 
Therefore, based on our review of the available information, we 
conclude that drought and the effects of climate change, combined with 
insect predation (see Factor C. Disease or Predation, below), rise to a 
rangewide level threat.
Summary of Factor A
    In conclusion, based on our review of the best available 
information, we have determined that individual plant loss, as well as 
fragmentation of acu[ntilde]a cactus and associated pollinator 
populations due to the effects of urbanization; livestock grazing; 
nonnative, invasive plant species; and mining do not impact the species 
at a population level and therefore are not threats to the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus. Currently, 78 percent of the known living acu[ntilde]a cactus 
individuals occur along the border near OPCNM. Cross-border violators 
and associated CBP and LE off-road activities may be affecting 
individual acu[ntilde]a cactus plants and their habitat. If there is an 
increase in off-road activities in or near acu[ntilde]a cactus 
populations or habitat, the likelihood of loss of individuals or loss 
or modification of habitat also increases. In addition, a large amount 
of mortality has been documented within all populations that have been 
visited more than once, relating to a combination of the intricately 
correlated increases in drought and heat stress, warmer winter 
temperatures, and insect attack (see Factor C. Disease or Predation, 
below). Thus, based on our review of the best available scientific 
information, we conclude that loss and degradation of habitat due to 
off-road border activities, drought, and climate change, are threats to 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus and its habitat.

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

    Unauthorized collection has, in the past, been identified as a 
threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus (Phillips et al. 1982, p. 9; Phillips 
and Buskirk 1982, p. 2; Rutman 1996a, pers. comm.; Rutman 2007, p. 6). 
At OPCNM, a large number of individuals are located adjacent to Puerto 
Blanco Drive, which was formerly a scenic loop drive. Although 
historically collection is suspected to have occurred in this 
population (Buskirk and Phillips 1983, pers. comm.; Rutman 1996a, pers. 
comm.), the significance of this past collection varies. Buskirk (1981, 
p. 5) noted that he did not believe collection was a significant source 
of mortality between 1977 and 1981, yet Phillips and Buskirk (1982, p. 
2) noted three mapped roadside cacti lost to collectors, stating that 
collecting could be a significant cause of loss in OPCNM. Additionally, 
Rutman (1996a, p. 2) noted that along the scenic drive road at OPCNM, 
considerable collection of the largest size class of plants occurred. 
This road was closed to visitors in 2003, and there are no plans to 
reopen it, making it highly unlikely that collection is an ongoing 
issue (Rutman 2011, pers. comm.; Pate 2012a, pers. comm.).
    On BLM-administered lands, the acu[ntilde]a cactus plants occur in 
very remote locations, and no reports of collection are known. Rutman 
(1995, p. 2) noted collection did not appear to be a threat to the 
population surrounding the Coffeepot Mountain plots during annual 
visits between 1988 and 1990. Similarly, no evidence of collection was 
seen during 2011 Service and BLM site visits to nearby populations 
within the Coffeepot ACEC (Service 2011a, p. 4).
    On State and private lands in the Florence area, Rutman (1995, p. 
3) noted that population locations were published and, easy to access, 
and that, for many years, collectors have been taking plants. She also 
noted individual plants seen the previous year were missing, and no 
carcasses found upon revisiting (Rutman 1995, p. 3). No evidence of 
collection from visited sites was found during 2011 Service visits 
(Service 2011b, p. 1). Private lands in the Ajo area are also 
accessible, though we have no reports of collection there.
    Buskirk and Phillips (1983, pers. comm.) refer to some acu[ntilde]a 
cactus collection, but refer to it as relatively uncommon and 
unsystematic at present. No documented cases of unauthorized

[[Page 60524]]

collection (in violation of the Arizona Native Plant Law) of this 
cactus have been found in any of the known populations. Heil and Melton 
(1994, p. 15) note that the acu[ntilde]a cactus is easy to grow and 
raise from seed and that species is rare in the gardens of cactus 
collectors. An investigator within the Office of Special Investigations 
of the Arizona Department of Agriculture stated that he does not 
believe collection of the acu[ntilde]a cactus is a threat to the 
species (Reimer 2011, pers. comm.). Therefore, based on our review of 
the available information, we conclude that, while there is evidence 
that unauthorized collection of the acu[ntilde]a cactus did occur in 
the past, it occurs to such an insignificant extent currently that it 
is not a threat to the acu[ntilde]a cactus, nor do we expect it to 
become a threat in the future.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    In general, cacti are susceptible to attacks from numerous types of 
insects, and the acu[ntilde]a cactus is no exception. The interior 
flesh of cacti provides both a nesting area and food source for 
beetles, weevils, and other insects. Once an infestation has occurred, 
cacti can die from the eating and tunneling activities or from the 
introduction of fungus or disease. In addition, drought may cause 
physiological stress responses in plants, such as limiting their 
photosynthesis and cell growth. Plants already stressed from prolonged 
drought are more susceptible to insect attack and disease (Mattson and 
Haack 1987, p. 110).
    There are four native insects that have been documented to impact 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus. Of these, cactus weevils (Gerstaeckeria spp.) 
and cactus longhorn beetle (Moneilema gigas) are documented to be most 
responsible for the acu[ntilde]a cactus declines (Rutman 2007, p. 6; 
Johnson 1989, p. 10). Cactus weevils are stem-boring insects; the 
adults feed externally while the larvae feed internally (Burger and 
Louda 1995, p. 1560). Cactus longhorn beetle adults feed on pads or 
terminal buds of cacti; their larvae burrow into stems or roots causing 
the severing of root and stem, collapse, and death of plants (Kelly and 
Olsen 2011, p. 7; Johnson 1989, p. 10). Raske 1966 (p. 106) cites Dodd 
(1927) stating that the cactus longhorn beetle has one reproductive 
cycle per year; however, a noted cactus expert, Alan Zimmerman, 
believes that increased warming in recent decades facilitates longer 
breeding cycles and more reproduction in both the cactus longhorn 
beetle and cactus weevil (Rutman 2007, p. 6).
    Other insects with lesser impact on the acu[ntilde]a cactus are 
snout moth (Yosemitia graciella) larvae and unknown ant species. Snout 
moth larvae are noted to feed internally on cacti (Simonsen and Brown 
2009, entire) and on fruits, thus reducing seed set (Johnson 1992, p. 
405). Johnson (1992, p. 405) noted snout moth predation accounted for a 
reduction in seed set of 35 percent in 50 monitored plants at OPCNM. 
Ants have been noted in greenhouse conditions and in the wild to 
consume and transport the acu[ntilde]a cactus seeds (Butterwick 1982-
1992, entire; Rutman 1996b, pers. comm.; Rutman 2001, pers. comm., p. 
1; Anderson 2011, p. 1). In a similar species, Coryphantha robustispina 
ssp. robustispina (Pima pineapple cactus), ants have been documented 
eating fruits and transporting seeds (Baker 2011, pp. ii, 23). While 
ants do consume seed, they also scatter seed away from the mother plant 
thereby reducing predation by small mammals (O'Dowd and Hay 1980, p. 
536; Vander Wall et al. 2005, p. 802). Ants may also aid in reducing 
the seedbank of competing plant species (O'Dowd and Hay 1980, p. 539). 
All of the above-mentioned insects have been documented at OPCNM near 
or on acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals (Johnson 1989, p. 10; Johnson 
1992, p. 405; Rutman 1996b, pers. comm.; Rutman 2001, pers. comm., p. 
1), with ants documented at Coffeepot Mountain (Butterwick 1982-1992, 
entire). It is likely that insect depredation occurs in other 
populations as well, though studies have not been conducted, and 
insects have not been collected in these populations. No diseases have 
been documented in the acu[ntilde]a cactus, though plants are 
exceptionally susceptible to bacterial rot after minor stem damage 
(Rutman 2007, p. 3). In 2011 site visits across the species' range, a 
majority of living adult acu[ntilde]a cacti were in various stages of 
decline, with stems blackening from the base upward and resulting in 
eventual cactus death. The cause of this blackening is unknown; it 
could be natural aging of the plants or the result of stress, insect 
damage, or disease.
    A variety of small mammals, such as native ground squirrels, pack 
rats, rabbits, and mice, can severely damage or kill both mature and 
young cacti during times of drought (Kelly and Olsen 2011, pp. 8-9). 
There have been reports of loss of the acu[ntilde]a cactus due to small 
mammal depredation evidenced by scattered spines and rooted bases at 
OPCNM (Buskirk 1981, p. 5; Buskirk and Phillips, 1983 pers. comm.; Heil 
and Melton 1994, p. 15; Holm 2006, pp. 2-3). It is likely that small 
mammal depredation occurs in other populations outside of OPCNM as 
well, though studies have not been conducted and small mammal 
occurrence in these populations has not been documented.
    In 2011, nearly all populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus on BLM, 
State, and some private lands were visited by Service staff (Service 
2011a, entire; Service 2011b, entire). In every population, some 
partially living and dead plants were found uprooted and toppled over. 
In 1996, there was a high mortality event associated with many live, 
reproductive plants found uprooted and lying on the ground in the 
Coffeepot Mountain population and the populations around Ajo (Rutman 
2007, p. 3). There has been no explanation for this episode; however, 
there have been various hypotheses including vandalism, thrashers 
(birds) digging them up, and javelinas uprooting the plants. Given the 
severing of stem from root commenced when plants had been infested with 
cactus longhorn beetle, it is entirely possible that episodes of plants 
falling over occur following peak years for these insects, possibly in 
association with birds or other animals hearing and attempting to 
remove the insects within. There were above average temperatures in Ajo 
the 2 years preceding the 1996 uprooting event; this uprooting may have 
been correlated to increased insect activity and uprooting. There have 
been above average annual temperatures recorded at the Ajo Weather 
Station 15 times during 25 years of record keeping between 1975 and 
2010 (WRCC 2012, entire). This trend is consistent both at OPCNM and in 
Florence, where 21 of 25 recent years and 19 of 25 recent years, 
respectively, had above average temperatures (WRCC 2012, entire). The 
increased warming in recent decades is likely benefiting insects and 
stressing acu[ntilde]a cactus plants, resulting in significantly 
increased mortality rangewide.
    Between 1982 and 1992, both recruitment and mortality were recorded 
within and outside of the established BLM plots at the Coffeepot 
Mountain acu[ntilde]a cactus population. Field notes from throughout 
the 10-year period of study indicate insect damage to individual plants 
has been ongoing within this population. Field notes included the 
following comments: tubercles with holes, damage on apex, exposed root, 
numerous ants, plant dying, insect damage to fruit, hollow inside, 
uprooted, chlorotic (yellowing), beetle wounds on side, unhealthy, 
damaged meristem, appears dying at the base, base rotting, sickly, and 
not rooted (Butterwick 1982-1992). In 1987, the

[[Page 60525]]

BLM reported high mortality in this population with more dead plants 
observed (332) than living (310) (Rutman et al. 1987, p. 1). In 1989, 
the BLM reported a precipitous decline of this population (Johnson 
1989, p. 18) with low or no recruitment since that time (Anderson 2011, 
entire). Within the monitoring plots at OPCNM, datasheets from 1986 
categorized cacti as being: uprooted from the base, shell of spines, 
dead with upright carcass, stepped on, and missing, among others 
(Buskirk 1986, pers. comm., entire). Within these plots, adult 
recruitment has been observed in every year of monitoring since 1989; 
mortality has been observed in all but 2 years during this same period 
(NPS 2011a, p. 1). On average, the annual adult mortality within these 
plots is 12 percent, exceeding the annual recruitment of 7.7 percent 
(NPS 2011a, p. 1). The decrease in reproduction, increase in mortality, 
or a combination of both have resulted in the decline in plants within 
(NPS 2011a, p. 1) and outside of the plots at OPCNM. Across this 
population, the previous estimate of acu[ntilde]a cactus numbers were 
greater than 10,000 individuals (Buskirk 1981, p. 3); current estimates 
are between 1,000 and 2,000 plants total (Rutman 2011, pers. comm.).
    Within monitoring plots at Coffeepot Mountain, population decline 
has been dramatic with at least two episodes of 50 percent reductions 
reported from individuals in and around monitoring plots (Butterwick 
1982-1992, entire; Rutman et al. 1987, p. 2; Anderson 2011, p. 2; 
Anderson 2012b, pers. comm.); at OPCNM, there has been a documented 
decline in the number of individuals on all six monitoring plots in all 
but 2 years since 1989 (NPS 2011a, p. 1), and in total population 
estimates between 1981 and 2011 (Buskirk 1981, p. 3; Rutman 2011, pers. 
comm.). In 2011, site visits to most of the remaining populations on 
BLM, State, and private lands indicated large proportions of the 
populations were dead with many plants uprooted, hollow plants, and 
many individuals in all size classes reported to be unhealthy or 
blackening from the base (Service 2011a, entire; Service 2011b, 
entire). Also in 2011, researchers in Mexico reported that 58.8 percent 
of the 1,601 total plants found were dead (Pate 2012b, pers. comm.).
    In conclusion, uprooting and depredation have been ongoing for at 
least several decades at OPCNM, at Coffeepot Mountain, and in all other 
populations. The pronounced decline in the acu[ntilde]a cactus numbers 
over the last three decades documented throughout the species' range on 
BLM, State, private, and lands in Sonora, Mexico, is of serious 
concern. It appears that the combination of drought stress and insect 
attack have reduced adult plant numbers and that warmer winters may be 
increasing insect numbers attacking acu[ntilde]a cacti. Most, if not 
all, of the populations are significantly impacted by predation; 
predation, in the form of insect attacks, occurs throughout the range 
of the acu[ntilde]a cactus. We also believe that the extent to which 
this threat affects the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations is interactive 
with the occurrence of drought and other climatic variables such as 
warmer winters. The ability of the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations to 
recover from insect attacks depends on the successful germination and 
survival of seedlings. However, these populations are also experiencing 
decreased reproduction, which may render the populations unable to 
recover as they continue to lose mature individuals, with low levels of 
seedling recruitment and survival. Therefore, based on our review of 
the available information, we conclude that predation is a threat that 
is resulting in significant population impacts to the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus, and this threat is expected to continue into the future.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate to address the threats to the species 
discussed under the other factors. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
requires the Service to take into account ``those efforts, if any, 
being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political subdivision 
of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species * * *.'' We 
interpret this language to require the Service to consider relevant 
Federal, State, and Tribal laws, plans, regulations, cooperative 
agreements, and other such mechanisms that may minimize any of the 
threats we describe in threat analyses under the other four factors, or 
otherwise enhance conservation of the species. We give strongest weight 
to statutes and their implementing regulations and management direction 
that stems from those laws and regulations. An example would be State 
governmental actions enforced under a State statute or constitution, or 
Federal action under statute.
    Having evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any 
such conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to 
which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the 
specific threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, 
may reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified 
threats. In this section, we review existing State and Federal 
regulatory mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or 
remove threats to the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    Regarding the threat of unauthorized collection, the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus is protected by the Arizona Native Plants Law, which prohibits 
collection without obtaining a permit on all public lands, and directs 
that plants may not be moved off of private property without contacting 
the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Due to the difficulty in 
implementing this law, it has not been effective in reducing impacts 
from collection, nor does it protect habitat. However, no documented 
cases of unauthorized collection of this cactus have been found in any 
of the known populations in recent decades. There is little threat of 
collection on private lands due to restricted public access (see Factor 
B); the majority of the acu[ntilde]a cactus populations are on State 
and Federal lands. In addition, NPS regulations prohibit the collection 
or removal of the acu[ntilde]a cactus on NPS lands, where the largest 
known acu[ntilde]a cactus population occurs. The main road accessing 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus population in Acu[ntilde]a Valley in OPCNM is 
closed to the public, thus reducing impacts from collection to this 
population. Although the remoteness of many populations limits both 
visitation and enforcement of the existing regulatory mechanisms, 
unauthorized collection is reported to result in a relatively minor 
impact to this species. We conclude that the regulations that exist to 
protect against the impacts from over collection of the species, 
primarily the NPS regulation prohibiting removal and the closure of the 
primary access route in OPCNM, are serving to reduce the impacts from 
collection.
    There are no regulations in place that address threats to 
acu[ntilde]a cactus and its habitat from site degradation or that 
address the primary threats to acu[ntilde]a cactus of insect predation, 
drought, and the effects of climate change. Urban development; 
livestock grazing; nonnative, invasive plant species; unauthorized 
collection, and mining are not identified to occur at a level that is a 
threat to acu[ntilde]a cactus populations. However, without management 
of impacts from these activities, impacts could rise significantly. 
There are special management prescriptions in place to address some of 
these concerns on Federal lands. For example, the Sonoran Desert 
National Monument and OPCNM exclude livestock grazing and mining; 
promote the reduction of

[[Page 60526]]

nonnative, invasive plant species; and are unlikely to support urban 
development. In Mexico, a portion of the known population is within the 
boundary of Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, which may afford some 
protections. While management prescriptions with regard to these 
stressors may be applied opportunistically across different land 
management agencies within the region, they do afford some protection 
and minimize impacts to the species and its habitat.
    With respect to threats to the species caused by activities along 
the U.S.-Mexico border, there are a number of Memorandum of 
Understanding and Biological Opinion documents that dictate certain 
actions be taken by CBP to reduce effects to resources in the United 
States and Mexico border region. These documents are primarily 
associated with habitat of the federally listed Sonoran pronghorn 
antelope (Antilocapra americana ssp. sonoriensis) and off-road 
activity, specifically identifying sensitive areas to avoid. These 
Memorandum of Understanding and Biological Opinions do provide some 
relief from the threats caused to the species resulting from cross-
border violators and CBP enforcement activities because the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus shares a portion of the pronghorn habitat and these 
documents limit some direct impact to habitat. Likewise, CBP-sponsored 
projects, including the mapping of off-road tracks and revegetating 
unauthorized roads, may also benefit the species (Holm 2012a, pers. 
comm.). In cooperation with Service staff, CBP has begun efforts to 
educate Border Patrol agents on the locations and appearance of 
acu[ntilde]a cactus so that areas that support the species can be 
avoided to the maximum extent possible. Designated critical habitat in 
OPCNM will be marked on road atlases being prepared by OPCNM staff and 
provided to the agents patrolling in the OPCNM area. In addition, the 
efforts of CBP to stop cross-border violators in recent years by means 
of traffic barriers and other infrastructure has greatly reduced cross-
border violator activities and afforded some protection to the habitat. 
However, due to the difficulty and ever-changing status of border 
issues, compliance with these agreements has been difficult. Reports 
indicate a two-track road and associated cross-border violator clothing 
were found in 2010 within one of the six long-term monitoring plots at 
OPCNM. The cross-border violator activities are, by their very nature, 
in violation of the law and regulations. Therefore, we believe that 
regulations designed to protect the species and its habitat will be 
generally of little impact to alleviate the threats caused by 
activities of cross-border violators. As noted above, the interdiction 
efforts of the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), including patrols, electronic 
surveillance and fence construction have contributed to a significant 
reduction in cross-border violator off-road traffic that has benefited 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus and other species. However, we do not find 
regulatory mechanisms to be adequate to directly address these threats 
discussed in Factor A.

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

    We have evaluated the best available scientific information, and we 
did not find any indication of potential threats related to this 
factor. We considered such threats as small population size and overall 
rarity of the acu[ntilde]a cactus, but we did not find any indication 
that these are threats to the species. Therefore, we conclude that 
other natural or manmade factors are not threats to the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus.

Proposed Determination for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the acu[ntilde]a cactus. We find that the species is in danger of 
extinction due to the current and ongoing modification and destruction 
of its habitat and range (Factor A) from long-term drought, effects of 
climate change, and ongoing and future border activities. The 
acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat is impacted across its range by long-term 
drought, warmer winters occurring in the past several decades and 
projected to continue with climate change, and insect predation. In 
addition, the majority of the acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals (78 
percent) occur within 16.5 km (10.25 mi) of the border in either OPCNM 
or Sonora, Mexico. As described above, the complexities of addressing 
off-road excursions by cross-border violators result in unpredictable 
actions on the part of CBP and LE and threatens acu[ntilde]a cactus and 
its habitat. The primary threats to the species are due to drought, 
climate change, and insect predation. These threats are exacerbated at 
local scales by off-road excursions by cross-border violators and CBP 
and LE response. We do not find any threats to the species from 
unauthorized collection (Factor B). We find that predation, in 
combination with drought and heat stress, exacerbates the threats to 
this species (Factor C). Although mechanisms are in place that afford 
some protection to the species and its habitat with regard to potential 
stressors to the species, there are no regulations in place to address 
insect predation, drought, and the effects of climate change. With 
regard to off-road border activity, although the interdiction efforts 
of CBP, including patrols, electronic surveillance and fence 
construction have contributed to a significant reduction in cross-
border violator off-road traffic that has benefited the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus and other species, regulations have little impact to alleviate 
these threats. Therefore, we do not find regulatory mechanisms to be 
adequate to directly address these threats discussed in Factor A. 
Finally, we find other natural or manmade factors are not threats to 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus (Factor E).
    The elevated risk of extinction of the acu[ntilde]a cactus is a 
result of the cumulative stressors on the species and its habitat. 
Mortality of more than 80 percent of individuals has been documented 
within populations that have been surveyed more than once. This loss 
has also occurred on protected lands with ongoing management efforts 
for the acu[ntilde]a cactus, showing both a rapid and a severe decline 
to the species. In the acu[ntilde]a cactus, water and heat stress 
reduce flower and seed production, and seedling survival is dependent 
on summer precipitation and soil moisture. Warmer and drier winters 
combined with increased insect attack, negatively impacts the 
survivorship of reproductive adults. Of the remaining living 
individuals across the species' range, a large portion were in various 
stages of deteriorating health, primarily blackening from the base 
upward, when visited by a botanist in 2011. Across populations, minimal 
or no recruitment has been seen in recent years. Throughout the 
species' range, rainfall has been declining, and drought conditions 
have been dominant for several decades; climate change is anticipated 
to increase drought periods and warming winters. This combination is 
expected to continue the documented trend of mortality exceeding 
recruitment across all populations. When mortality exceeds recruitment 
in a population, the result is often a declining population. Given 
this, we consider none of the populations to be stable or secure. The 
factors significantly threatening the species are not expected to be 
abated in the foreseeable future, and some populations may have 
decreased to levels where they are no longer viable. All of the 
threats, combined with high

[[Page 60527]]

levels of mortality and low recruitment in the populations, contribute 
to a substantial risk of extinction and lead to our finding that the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus is in danger of extinction throughout its range; 
therefore, the species meets the definition of endangered.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range based 
on rangewide documented rapid loss of individuals, decline in the 
health of many remaining individuals, little to no recruitment, and 
continuation of the threats, as described above. Therefore, on the 
basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, we 
propose listing the acu[ntilde]a cactus as an endangered species in 
accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.
    Listing the acu[ntilde]a cactus as a threatened species is not the 
appropriate determination because the ongoing threats described above 
are severe enough to create the immediate risk of extinction. The 
continued loss of reproductive adults and juveniles poses a significant 
and immediate risk of extinction to the species throughout the species' 
range, and are not restricted to any particular significant portion of 
that range. All of these factors combined lead us to conclude that the 
threat of extinction is high and immediate; thus, we conclude that the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus meets the definition of an endangered species.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is an endangered or threatened species throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range. The threats to the survival 
of the species occur throughout the acu[ntilde]a cactus' range and are 
not restricted to any particular significant portion of that range. 
Accordingly, our assessment and proposed determination applies to the 
species throughout its entire range.

Fickeisen Plains Cactus

    It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly 
relevant to the listing of the Fickeisen plains cactus as endangered in 
this section of the proposed rule.
Species Description
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is a small, unbranched to occasionally 
branched, globose (globular) cactus that retracts into the soil after 
flowering and fruiting. Stems of mature Fickeisen plains cactus are 2.5 
to 6.0 cm (1.0 to 2.4 in) tall and up to 5.5 cm (2.2 in) in diameter 
(Benson 1982, p. 749; Arizona Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, 
unpaginated). The stems are covered with tubercles; each tubercle has 3 
to 7 radial spines, 4 to 7 millimeters (mm) (0.15 to 0.27 in) in 
length, and 1 central spine (15 to 18 mm (0.59 to 0.70 in) long) that 
distinguishes the variety fickeiseniae from the variety peeblesianus 
(Benson 1982, p. 765). The central spine is whitish and curved upward. 
All spines are corky (spongy). The flowers are 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in 
diameter, cream-yellow or yellowish-green in color, and produced on the 
apex of the stem. Flowers bloom from mid-April to mid-May, opening in 
the mid-morning for 1 to 2 days. An entire population generally 
completes anthesis (the period when the flower is open and functional) 
in 7 to 14 days (Travis 1987, p. 6), depending on the weather 
conditions (Navajo Natural Heritage Program (NNHP) 1994, p. 4). Fruits 
are produced in mid-May, are turbinate (top-shaped), and turn reddish-
brown at maturity (AGFD 2011a, p. 1). The seeds are dark brown to 
black, 3 mm (0.11 in) long, and 2 mm (0.08 in) wide (AGFD 2011a, p. 1). 
The life span of the Fickeisen plains cactus is estimated to be between 
10 to 15 years (Phillips et al. 1982, p. 9).
Taxonomy
    The Fickeisen plains cactus was discovered near Cameron, Arizona, 
in the late 1950s, and was described in the scientific literature by 
Heil et al. (1981, pp. 28-31).
    The name Pediocactus peeblesianus var. fickeiseniae had not been 
validly published. Heil et al. (1981, p. 31) recognized the name and 
taxon in a review of the genus Pediocactus, and this name is accepted 
in the Flora of North America (Heil and Porter 2003, p. 213). Based on 
these references, we consider Pediocactus peeblesianus var. 
fickeiseniae to be a valid taxon. Other synonyms of Pediocactus 
peeblesianus var. fickeiseniae that have been used are Navajoa 
fickeisenii and Toumeya fickeisenii (Benson 1982, p. 955).
    The genus Pediocactus contains seven species; six of these are rare 
endemics of the Colorado Plateau region in Arizona, Colorado, New 
Mexico, and Utah (Benson 1982, p. 749). There are two recognized 
varieties of Pediocactus peeblesianus, variety peeblesianus (Peebles 
Navajo cactus) and variety fickeiseniae (Porter 2002, pp. 15-16). 
According to Benson, the structural differences exhibited by Pediocacti 
among various sites, coupled with a poor seed dispersal mechanism and 
specializations to specific geology or soil type, indicate that the 
existing plants are probably relicts of a once widespread genus with a 
distribution fractured by climatic conditions (Benson 1982, p. 750).
Biology
    The general biology of the Fickeisen plains cactus is similar to 
other species in the genus Pediocactus. The Fickeisen plains cactus is 
a cold-adapted plant that retracts into the soil during the winter 
(cold) and summer (dry) seasons, as well as during drought conditions. 
Plants may be completely buried underground or shrink down into the 
soil until the crown sits flushed with the soil surface (Phillips et 
al. 1982, p. 4). When temperatures rise in the spring and with adequate 
rainfall, plants emerge from beneath the surface to flower in mid-
April. Spring flowering is believed to be influenced by cold 
temperatures and precipitation from the preceding winter months (Brack 
2012, pers. comm.). After flowering and prior to the summer heat, 
plants set seed in June and shrink into the soil, losing one-half their 
height above ground. Some plants may re-emerge in the autumn following 
monsoonal rains. The length of time a plant remains retracted can vary 
between individual plants. Hughes (2000a, p. 2) has documented some 
plants remaining retracted underground for at least 3 years. The 
Fickeisen plains cactus is also subject to root rot during very wet 
years and frost heaving. Locating individuals of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus can be difficult, even when their exact location is known, and 
therefore, searches are best done during their flowering period.
    Reproduction has not been specifically studied on the Fickeisen 
plains cactus. However, reproduction for plant species in the genus 
Pediocactus occurs by cross-pollination (Pimienta-Barrios and del 
Castillo 2002, p. 79). Species of small native bees are the primary 
pollinators. Species of hover flies and bee flies have also been 
observed visiting flowers of the Fickeisen plains cactus (Milne 1987, 
p. 21; NNHP 1994, p. 3; Peach et al. 1993, pp. 312-314; Tepedino 2000, 
p. 7; Tepedino 2012, pers. comm.). Hughes (1996a, p. 50) found that 
flowering and fruiting in the Fickeisen plains cactus occurs once an 
individual plant grows to 10 mm (0.39 in) in diameter and as an 
individual increases in size more fruit are produced. Specifically, he 
documented individuals less than 20.9 mm (0.82 in) in diameter produced 
1.37 fruit on average (range of fruit produced

[[Page 60528]]

1 to 3) compared to individuals at 50 mm (1.97 in) and larger, which 
produced 3.60 fruits on average (range of fruit produced 2 to 5). This 
correlation between larger sized individuals and increased fruit 
production has also been found in other Pediocactus species (Phillips 
et al. 1989, p. 4; Hreha and Meyer 2001, p. 86). This information 
suggests that larger, older individuals contribute more to the 
population growth rate by potentially having a greater influence on 
seed output than smaller, younger plants. Based on long-term monitoring 
information for the Fickeisen plains cactus, the majority of 
individuals observed tend to range between 20 mm (0.79 in) and 30 mm 
(1.18 in) in diameter.
    Population monitoring of the Fickeisen plains cactus suggests that 
this variety has a low reproductive capacity. In examining long-term 
monitoring information by the BLM, fruit production occurred 
irregularly over a 22-year period with 35 percent, on average, of the 
population reproducing. Hughes (2011, pers. comm.) found that 30 to 40 
seeds are generally produced from a single fruit, and believed that low 
seed production hinders substantial increases in plant abundance from 
occurring, even during favorable weather conditions that would support 
germination (Hughes 1996a, p. 50). Thus, significant episodes of 
recruitment within populations on BLM lands reportedly occurred two to 
three times over a 9-year period from 1986 to 1995 (Hughes 1996a, p. 
50). Phillips and Phillips (1995, p. 12) reported similar results for 
the Peebles Navajo cactus in which they documented moderate increases 
in population numbers roughly two to three times every 10 years. 
Episodic recruitment may play a role in increasing the threats to the 
species because adult mortality may continue at a high rate between 
periods of recruitment, lowering the reproductive potential of the 
population when conditions are favorable for seed germination.
    The mechanisms of seed dispersal in the Fickeisen plains cactus 
have not been investigated and are poorly understood. Most site visits 
to populations of the Fickeisen plains cactus have observed seedlings 
established very close to the adult plant (Goodwin 2011a, p. 9; NNHP 
1994, p. 4). The general shared belief is that most species of 
Pediocactus, including the Fickeisen plains cactus, lack a good 
mechanism for seed dispersal, which is a contributing factor to its 
endemism and widely scattered, isolated populations (Benson 1982, p. 
750; Milne 1987, p. 4).
Habitat
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is a narrow endemic restricted to 
exposed layers of Kaibab limestone on the Colorado Plateau. Plants are 
found in shallow, gravelly loam soils formed from alluvium, colluvium, 
or Aeolian deposits derived from limestone of the Harrisburg member of 
the Kaibab Formation and Toroweap Formation; Coconino Sandstone; and 
the Moenkopi Formation (Travis 1987, pp. 2-3; Arizona Geological Survey 
(AZGS) 2011; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 2012). Most 
populations occur on the margins of canyon rims, on flat terraces or 
benches, or on the toe of well-drained hills with less than 20 percent 
slope; at elevations between 1,280 to 1,814 m (4,200 to 5,950 ft) 
(Arizona Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, unpaginated; AGFD 2011b, 
entire; Hazelton 2012a, pers. comm.). Habitat of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus is within the Plains and Great Basin grasslands and Great Basin 
desert scrub vegetation communities (Benson 1982, p. 764; NatureServe 
2011). Dominant native plant species that are commonly associated with 
these biotic communities include: Artemisia tridentata (sagebrush), 
Atriplex canescens (four-wing saltbush), Atriplex confertifolia 
(shadscale), Bouteloua eriopoda (black grama), Bouteloua gracilis (blue 
grama), Bromus spp. (brome), Chrysothamnus spp. (rabbit-bush), Ephedra 
torreyana (Mormon tea), Eurotia lanata (winterfat), Gutierrezia 
sarothrae (broom snakeweed), Pleuraphis jamesii (James's galleta), 
Oryzopsis hymenoides (Indian ricegrass), Sphaeralcea spp. (globe-
mallow), and Stipa spp. (needlegrass). Other native cactus species that 
are commonly found include Agave utahensis (century plants) and 
Echinocactus polycephalus spp. (Brown 1994, pp. 115-121; Turner 1994, 
pp. 145-155; Hughes 1996b, p. 2; Goodwin 2011a, p. 4; NatureServe 
2011). The Escobaria vivipara var. rosea (foxtail cactus) is typically 
found in close association with the Fickeisen plains cactus (Hughes 
1996a, p. 47).
    The climate of the Great Basin Desert and on the Colorado Plateau 
is highly variable. The climate of the region is influenced by events 
in the tropical Pacific and northern Pacific Ocean (United States 
Geological Survey (USGS) 2002, p. 2). The amount of precipitation 
received locally varies by elevation and topography, and is patchy in 
its distribution. Precipitation is bimodal, occurring in the winter 
(January to March) and summer (July to September) months. The average 
annual precipitation ranges from 15.2 to 35.5 cm (6 to 14 in) per year; 
snowfall accumulation averages 22.9 cm (9 in), primarily from January 
to February (WRCC 2012, entire). Winter precipitation is thought to be 
critical for the region to ensure soil moisture recharge and a reliable 
spring growing season (Travis 1987, p. 3; Comstock and Ehleringer 1992, 
pp. 196-199).
    Biological soil crusts are found on the Colorado Plateau in or near 
the Fickeisen plains cactus' habitat (United States Forest Service 
(USFS) 1999, entire; BLM 2007a, p. 3-15). Biological soil crusts are 
formed by a community of living organisms that can include 
cyanobacteria, green algae, microfungi, mosses, liverworts, and lichens 
(Belnap 2006, pp. 361-362). These crusts provide many positive benefits 
to the larger vegetation community by providing fixed carbon and 
nitrogen on sparsely vegetated soils, soil stabilization and erosion 
control, water infiltration, improved plant growth, and seedling 
germination (Rychert et al. 1978, entire; NRCS 1997, pp. 8-10; Floyd et 
al. 2003, p. 1704; Belnap 2006, entire).
Distribution and Range
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is found only on the Colorado Plateau 
in Coconino and Mohave Counties. The range of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus encompasses the Arizona Strip (i.e., the area north of the 
Colorado River to the Arizona-Utah border) from Mainstreet Valley in 
Mohave County to House Rock Valley in Coconino County, along the canyon 
rims of the Colorado River and Little Colorado River, to the area of 
Gray Mountain, and along the canyon rims of Cataract Canyon on the 
Coconino Plateau. The majority of the populations are small; some 
consisting of a few individuals (Table 3). Populations are widely 
scattered over a broad range and separated by topography. There seems 
to be abundant suitable habitat that is unoccupied by the plant for 
reasons unknown. One estimate of the range of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus is 12,750 square kilometers (sq km) (4,922 square miles (sq mi)) 
(NatureServe 2011, p. 2). We do not know what information was used to 
derive this estimate, and, therefore, it may not accurately reflect the 
current known range. The range of the Fickeisen plains cactus converges 
with the range of the endangered Pediocactus bradyi (Brady pincushion 
cactus) in House Rock Valley, and overlaps with the range of the 
threatened Pediocactus sileri (Siler pincushion cactus), and the 
Pediocactus

[[Page 60529]]

paradinei (Kaibab plains cactus), which is protected by a conservation 
agreement on the Arizona Strip (BLM 2011a, Figure 3.8-1).
    Very little is known about the historical range of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus. Benson (1982, p. 765) described the range as northern 
Arizona from the hills in northeast Mohave County to the vicinity of 
the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers near the Grand Canyon National 
Park and southeast Coconino County. He estimated the known range to be 
about 200 km (125 mi) of land. Based on the current spatial 
distribution of the Fickeisen plains cactus, the plant's range has 
expanded roughly 72 km (45 mi) west of the Kaibab Plateau in Mohave 
County to include occupied areas in Mainstreet Valley, Hurricane 
Cliffs, and Clayhole Ridge on the Arizona Strip.
    The Fickeisen plains cactus population near Cataract Canyon was 
recently documented in 2006. The population is located below the 
Colorado River and south of the Grand Canyon National Park on the 
Cataract Ranch but does not appear to represent a range expansion for 
the species. Benson had identified two areas as occupied by Pediocactus 
peeblesianus varieties that correspond to the location of this 
population (Benson 1982, p. 765). One area, located below the Colorado 
River, was identified as a Fickeisen plains cactus occurrence. The 
second occupied area was located farther south of there but identified 
as a Peebles Navajo cactus occurrence. Both of these areas were later 
inventoried as part of a floristic survey in 2006, and the variety of 
Pediocactus peeblesianus observed was documented as the Fickeisen 
plains cactus (Goodwin 2006, p. 4; Goodwin 2011a, pp. 5-6).
    The Fickeisen plains cactus has also been documented on State land 
within the Boquillas Ranch, which is located to the west of the 
Cataract Ranch and is privately owned by the Navajo Nation (Goodwin 
2006, p. 5; Chapman 2012, pers. comm.). Besides location coordinates, 
we do not have information describing the status of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus there. According to Goodwin (2006, pp. 4-5), two German 
botanists had discovered plants of Pediocactus peeblesianus on the 
Coconino Plateau in 1979, but the plants were thought to be of the 
variety maianus. Based on their field notes, visits to the area between 
1980 and 2006 confirmed the locations of three occupied sites by the 
Pediocactus peeblesianus, later documented as the Fickeisen plains 
cactus. Two of these sites were on the Cataract Ranch while the third 
site is on State land leased to the Boquillas Ranch (Chapman 2012, 
pers. comm.). This area was revisited in 2012, but no documentation 
describing the site visit is available (Goodman 2012, pers. comm.; 
Hazelton 2012b, pers. comm.). Anecdotal information suggests that 
additional Fickeisen plains cacti and an abundant suitable habitat 
occur on the Boquillas Ranch (Chapman 2012, pers. comm. Goodwin 2012, 
pers. comm.). If additional Fickeisen plains cacti do exist here, it 
would increase the known range and distribution of the plant.
Abundance and Trends
About 1,150 Fickeisen plains cacti among 33 populations have ever been 
documented rangewide from 1962 to 2011 (Table 3) (AGFD 2011b, entire; 
Goodwin 2011a, p. 19; NNHP 2011a, entire). However, 504 individuals 
among 6 populations have been recently documented and are a subset of 
the 1,150 individuals. This difference in the number of individuals 
does not necessarily represent a decline; survey information for the 
remaining 27 populations is absent, and therefore their status is 
unknown. Additionally, the increase in plant numbers in the Cataract 
Canyon population from 2007 to 2011 is due to better detection between 
years and not to greater abundance. Based on these six documented 
populations, the breakout of the land ownership follows: BLM (26 
percent), Kaibab National Forest (status unknown), State of Arizona (32 
percent), the Navajo Nation (14 percent), and privately-owned lands (29 
percent).

                                                Table 3--Total Documented Fickeisen Plains Cactus Numbers
                                                                     [1962 to 2011]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                    Last
              Population                       Land owner                 First visited                   First count             visited     Last count
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Beanhole Well.........................  BLM.....................  1979.........................  3............................         1979            3
Marble Canyon.........................  BLM.....................  1979.........................  8............................         1979            8
Gray Mountain (Mays Wash).............  BLM.....................  1981.........................  29...........................         1981           29
South Canyon..........................  BLM.....................  1979.........................  41...........................         1987           52
Toquer Tank...........................  BLM.....................  1986.........................  8............................         1994            7
Navajo................................  BLM.....................  1986.........................  4............................         2001           10
Salaratus Draw I and II...............  BLM.....................  1986.........................  17...........................         2001            0
Temple Trail..........................  BLM.....................  1986.........................  7............................         2001            7
Ward..................................  BLM.....................  1986.........................  12...........................         2001           10
Sunshine Ridge II.....................  BLM.....................  1986.........................  9............................         2004           35
Clayhole Ridge........................  BLM.....................  1987.........................  23...........................         2011           42
Dutchman Draw.........................  BLM.....................  1986.........................  167..........................         2011           12
North Canyon..........................  BLM.....................  1987.........................  16...........................         2011           39
Sunshine Ridge........................  BLM.....................  1987.........................  12...........................         2011           34
Kaibab National Forest................  Forest Service..........  Unknown......................  .............................         2004      Unknown
Shinumo Wash..........................  NN......................  1993.........................  9............................         1993            9
Tiger Wash 2..........................  NN......................  1993.........................  11...........................         1993           11
Little Colorado River Overlook........  NN......................  1956.........................  Unknown......................         1997           15
Little Colorado River Gauging Station.  NN......................  1999.........................  1 (survey out of season).....         1999            1
29 mile Canyon........................  NN......................  2000.........................  2............................         2000            2
Big Canyon............................  NN......................  2002.........................  15...........................         2002           15
West of Hellhole Bend.................  NN......................  2002.........................  5............................         2002            5
Small Ridge...........................  NN......................  2004.........................  1 (survey out of season).....         2004            1
Little Colorado River Gravel pit......  NN......................  1956.........................  Unknown......................         2005           21
Shinumo Altar.........................  NN......................  1991.........................  Unknown......................         2005            7
Tiger Wash 1..........................  NN......................  1993.........................  30...........................         2005            2
Gray Mountain (South of Cameron)......  NN......................  1962.........................  4............................         2009            3

[[Page 60530]]

 
Hellhole Bend.........................  NN......................  2009.........................  314..........................         2009          314
Salt Trail Canyon.....................  NN......................  2006.........................  119..........................         2011           70
Blue Spring...........................  NN......................  2005.........................  30...........................         2005           30
Gray Mountain (Sewage Disposal Pond)..  Private.................  1984.........................  .............................         1984            4
Cataract Canyon.......................  Private.................  2007.........................  54...........................         2011          146
Cataract Canyon.......................  State...................  2007.........................  98...........................         2011          161
                                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TOTAL.............................  ........................  .............................  .............................  ...........       1, 105
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes: Navajo Nation (NN).


                              Table 4--Numbers of Fickeisen Plains Cacti Recorded in BLM Monitoring Plots and Cluster Plots
                                                                     [1986 to 2011]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                           North                Sunshine   Salaratus   Temple   Toquer
           Year            Dutchman  Clayhole       Sunshine Ridge         Canyon     Navajo    Ridge II   I and II    Trail   Tank **    Ward    Total
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1986 Plants outside             167         8  9.......................  .........  .........  .........          17  .......  .......  .......      201
 plots*.
1986.....................        21  ........  6.......................         14          4          2  ..........        5        8       10       70
1987.....................       107        23  12......................         16  .........  .........  ..........  .......        7  .......      165
1988.....................       102        35  ........................         27  .........  .........  ..........  .......        9  .......      173
1989.....................       185        31  8.......................         28  .........  .........  ..........  .......        9  .......      261
1990.....................       186        32  33......................         33  .........  .........  ..........  .......        6  .......      290
1991.....................       194        37  43......................         36  .........  .........  ..........  .......       13  .......      323
1992.....................       219        44  44......................          7  .........  .........  ..........  .......        7  .......      321
1993.....................       168        34  32......................         13          0  .........          13        1  .......        0      261
1994.....................       168        38  35......................         16  .........  .........          44  .......        7  .......      308
1995.....................       188        30  25......................         11  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      254
1997.....................       122        21  7.......................         21  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      171
1998.....................        49        16  6.......................         26  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......       97
1999.....................        45        17  5.......................         28  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......       95
2000.....................        37        20  Not Observed............         22  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......       79
2001.....................        40        63  3.......................         34         10         23           0        7        0       10      190
2002.....................        30        60  12......................         24  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      126
2003.....................        50        56  Not Observed............         24  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      130
2004.....................        45        59  7.......................         40  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      151
2005.....................        34        59  33......................         40  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      166
2006.....................        36        48  26......................         32  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      142
2007.....................        32        38  30......................         39  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      139
2008.....................        23        40  23......................         33  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      119
2009.....................        33        37  33......................         31  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      134
2011.....................        12        42  34......................         39  .........  .........  ..........  .......  .......  .......      127
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes: * BLM reported counts of Fickeisen plains cacti outside of established monitoring plots for 1986 only. No monitoring occurred in 1996 by the BLM
  due to dry conditions resulting in plants retracted underground. No monitoring reports were submitted to the Service for the years 2010 and 2012.

    Our knowledge of abundance and trend information was assessed from 
annual monitoring reports by the BLM (1986 to 2011) and Navajo Nation 
(2006 to 2011). Each agency has monitoring plans that are set up to 
track specific information in each of their populations. However, there 
are differences in data collection, and this inconsistency makes it 
difficult to compare trends across the landscape and ownerships. 
Therefore, results are presented for each landowner separately. No 
monitoring program has been established for the Fickeisen plains cactus 
on the Kaibab National Forest and the Cataract Ranch.
    Trend information from the five monitored plots indicates that 
these populations have experienced significant declines in plant 
numbers. Plant numbers in the four BLM plots increased by approximately 
98 percent from 1987 to 1992, but declined by 59.5 percent from 1993 to 
2011 (Table 4). The reported decline is based on the number of tagged 
Fickeisen plains cactus that are present (emergent and alive) during 
the monitoring period. If an individual tagged plant is retracted 
underground during the monitoring period, it is counted as missing or 
retracted but is not included in the live plant count. If that plant 
does not emerge after 3 consecutive years, the BLM will mark the plant 
as dead. The Salt Trail Canyon plot on the Navajo Nation plot shows a 
49 percent decline over the last 5 years. This decline is also based on 
the number of live, emergent plants counted during the monitoring 
period. Plants that are reportedly dead or missing are tallied 
separately in each successive year that monitoring occurs.
    Bureau of Land Management Lands--The BLM manages habitat for 13 
documented Fickeisen plains cactus populations (Table 3) that occupy an 
estimated 36.9-ha (91.3-ac) area (BLM 2007b, p. 67) on the Arizona 
Strip. The total known population on the Arizona

[[Page 60531]]

Strip has declined from 323 individuals in 1991 to 127 individuals in 
2011 (Table 4).
    The Fickeisen plains cactus was first documented on the Arizona 
Strip in 1977 at Sunshine Ridge with the remaining populations 
discovered up through 1986 (Phillips 1979, entire; AGFD 2011b, entire). 
The populations are widely separated from one another (roughly 31 km 
(19 mi) apart) in geographically disjunct locations. In Mohave County, 
populations have been documented in Mainstreet Valley near Dutchman 
Draw, in Hurricane Valley near Toquer Tank, in Lower Hurricane Valley 
near Temple Trail, in Salaratus Draw in the Hurricane Cliffs, on 
Clayhole Ridge, and on Sunshine Ridge. Populations have also been 
documented in Coconino County near the canyon rims of Marble Canyon, 
South Canyon, and North Canyon Wash in House Rock Valley. Searches for 
the Fickeisen plains cactus after 1987 have not located any additional 
occurrences despite the abundance of suitable habitat present (Hughes 
1996a, p. 47; Hughes 2011, pers. comm.).
    In 1986, the BLM established long-term monitoring at the Dutchman 
Draw, North Canyon wash, Clayhole Ridge, and Sunshine Ridge populations 
(Hughes 1996a, p. 47). The plots were located in populations that 
contained the densest number of Fickeisen plains cacti and were easily 
accessible (Hughes 2009, p. 28; Hughes 2011, pers. comm.). They were 
visited each year from 1986 to 2009, and in 2011, to record information 
on abundance, size (diameter), reproduction, recruitment, mortality, 
and missing or retracted plants. BLM classified plants into five 
different size classes based on measured width between 1987 and 1995. 
After 1997, two size classes were used to reflect the juvenile (0 to 15 
mm (0.6 in)) and adult (16 to 31 mm and greater (0.63 to 1.22 in)) size 
classes. The changes to the size classes prevents comparing the data 
among years; however, it does provide some information regarding the 
proportion of the population in the small and larger size classes that 
can be used to describe recruitment. Besides the four plots, BLM 
established seven cluster plots: Navajo, Ward, Salaratus Draw 1, 
Salaratus Draw 2, Sunshine Ridge 2, Temple Trail, and Toquer Tank. 
Cluster plots consist of rebar centered among a small number of 
scattered individuals. These are visited once every 5 to 10 years for 
the purpose of recording presence/absence.
    Dutchman Draw--The Dutchman Draw plot is the largest plot, situated 
within tall, dense grass in Mainstreet Valley. It has experienced a 95 
percent decline in the last 18 years. Up until 1999, plant numbers in 
the plot accounted for 64 to 74 percent of the total reported numbers 
for the Arizona Strip population. Abundance in this plot increased 
during the late 1980s from 167 individuals to a high of 219 plants in 
1992. As of 2011, only 12 plants occur in the plot. The plot 
experienced its highest number of seedlings from 1989 to 1992, a period 
when the BLM recorded plants in the smallest size class. Only one other 
seedling was detected in 1994. Between 1997 and 2005, the two size 
classes were relatively equal. After 2007, the larger size class showed 
an upward trend, while a significant drop occurred in the smaller size 
class. This gap between the two size classes has continued through 
2011, in which 83 percent of the plot's individuals are adult plants. 
There were a total of 111 plants counted as recruitment (plants with a 
diameter less than 20 mm (0.79 in)) with an average of 7 individuals 
per year; 94 percent of those were reported from 1994 to 2004. On 
average, 31 percent of tagged plants fruited in 5 of the 22 years of 
percent fruiting was recorded. From 2001 to 2011, 174 plants were 
reported missing or retracted (average 35 plants per year). Mortality 
totaled 257 plants over a 15-year period from 1987 to 2011 with 144 of 
those occurring in the year 2000. The BLM stated that the 144 
mortalities included tagged plants that that were previously counted as 
retracted plants but because they had not been seen since the late 
nineties, they were assumed to be dead (Hughes 2000a, p. 2). In 
summary, this plot has shown a continued decline since 1992. Although 
many plants are within reproductive age, there have not been any 
significant increases in plant numbers. Mortality and the number of 
plants missing or retracted have been higher than the number of new 
recruits. With only 12 plants in 2011, we believe this plot could be 
extirpated in the near future.
    Clayhole Ridge--The Clayhole Ridge plot occurs on top of a 
limestone ridge (BLM 2007b, p. 67). Plant numbers have varied with a 
high of 63 individuals (2001) and a low of 16 individuals (1998). Since 
2001, plant numbers have declined by 33 percent. As of 2011, the plot 
has 42 plants. No seedlings were reported from 1987 to 1995, when the 
small size classes were measured. During that period, 76 percent of the 
individuals were greater than 20.1 mm (0.79 in) in diameter, while 9 
percent were less than 10 mm (0.39 in) in diameter. The gap between the 
small and larger size classes has continued through 2011, with 88 
percent of the individuals in the larger size class. Hughes (1996b, p. 
17) attributed this division to the lack of intensive surveys for 
seedlings. This plot had the highest percent of cactus producing fruit 
and in the most years compared to the other plots. Fruiting production 
occurred in 16 of the 22 years reported with 6 to 85 percent of tagged 
cactus fruiting in any given year. New recruits, however, appeared to 
be low, with a total of 34 new plants (average of 2 per year) reported 
in 11 of the 16 years. There were a total of 40 mortalities between 
1988 and 2005, and 251 plants were reported missing or retracted from 
1998 to 2009 (average of 21 plants per year). In summary, abundance has 
varied in this plot overall. Since 2001, plant numbers have declined by 
33 percent. Even with the high number of plants that produced fruit and 
considering that larger individuals produced multiple fruit, 
recruitment appears to be poor. Mortalities, in combination with the 
number of plants missing or retracted, are substantially high in light 
of overall plant numbers. The years between 2000 and 2001 are the 
exception, when plant numbers increased from 20 to 63. Reasons 
attributed for the sharp increase are unknown and do not appear to be 
correlated to weather, as the spring of 2000 was very dry (Hughes 
2000a, p. 1).
    Sunshine Ridge--The Sunshine Ridge plot is located along a 
ridgeline and downslope on a bench next to Toroweap Road (Hughes 1996b, 
p. 17). This plot has experienced great variations in plant numbers. 
Monitoring began with six plants in 1986, and as of 2011, the plot 
contained 34 plants. Plant numbers fluctuated from a high of 44 (1992) 
to none being observed in 2000, because they were either retracted or 
dead (Hughes 2000a, p. 1; Hughes 2005a, pers. comm.), possibly in 
response to below-average precipitation that year. The plot had two 
distinct periods of relatively high numbers; from 1990 to 1995, with an 
average of 35 plants, and from 2005 to 2011, with an average of 29 
plants. The worst years occurred in between these peaks. The plot was 
vandalized in 1996, which may have contributed to the significant 
decline, although plants were not observed to have been damaged by the 
vandalism (Hughes 2005a, pers. comm.). From 1987 to 1995, 77 percent of 
individuals were greater than 10.1 mm (0.40 in) in diameter, while only 
two very small plants were discovered during this period. From 1997 
through 2011, the majority of the plants were in the larger size class 
which currently includes 85 percent of the individuals in this plot.

[[Page 60532]]

Fruit production occurred in 10 of the 22 years, with 16 to 79 percent 
of tagged cacti fruiting. A total of 26 new recruits (average 1.7 per 
year) occurred in 7 of the 16 years reported. A total of 43 plants 
died, with 74 percent of those mortalities occurring from 1989 to 1995. 
There was also a total of 45 plants reported missing or retracted 
(average of 4 per year), with 82 percent of these reports occurring 
from 2006 to 2009. In summary, this plot has experienced great 
fluctuations in numbers but has maintained an average of 21 plants over 
the years. Reasons for the fluctuations have not been fully 
investigated. Despite a high percentage of plants fruiting, only two 
seedlings were documented over a 16-year period. Both mortality and the 
number of plants missing or retracted exceeds the number of new 
recruits. The status of the species in the plot appears to be unstable 
and trending towards decline.
    North Canyon--The North Canyon Plot occurs in House Rock Valley on 
two small hills near North Canyon wash. As of 2011, the plot contained 
39 plants. Plant numbers have also varied and have not been 
investigated. From 1987 to 1991, plant numbers increased by 
approximately 55 percent, then declined by approximately 81 percent in 
1992. The sharp decline was attributed to a high number of plants lost 
from rodent predation in 1992. Post 1992, plant numbers have gradually 
increased to a high of 40 in 2004 and 2005, and currently fluctuate 
between 31 and 39 individuals. Size structure has been dominated by 
larger individuals since 2000; few to no seedlings have been reported. 
From 1988 to 1995, 85 percent of plants were greater than 10.1 mm (0.40 
in) in diameter. No small-sized plants were found during these years. 
From 1997 through 2002, the size class distribution was relatively 
equal. After 2002, a shift occurred, with an increase in the number of 
individuals in the larger size class and a decrease in the number in 
the smaller size class. Currently, 90 percent of plants are in the 
larger size class. Fruit production occurred in 11 of the 22 years 
reported, with 8 to 64 percent of tagged cactus fruiting. There were 31 
new recruits (average of 2 plants per year) in 10 of 16 years reported. 
There were a total of 37 mortalities, including the 26 deaths in 1992. 
A total of 72 plants were reported missing or retracted (about 6 plants 
per year); 65 percent of those occurred from 2002 to 2005, when the 
plot also increased in numbers. In summary, the plot has maintained 
between 31 and 39 individuals since 2004. Given the size structure, the 
plot appears to be dominated by aging adult cactus. Very few small 
plants were documented between 1986 and 1995. In addition, mortality, 
combined with the number of plants missing or retracted, exceeds 
recruitment. This plot is trending towards decline due to poor 
recruitment and the current size-class distribution.
    Information collected on the seven cluster plots was reported in 
BLM's 2001 annual monitoring report and is limited to count data 
(Roaque 2012, pers. comm.). The Navajo and Ward clusters plots are 
located in proximity to the Dutchman Draw population. In 1986, 4 plants 
were found at Navajo and 12 at Ward. Visits to these sites in 1993 
reported zero plants in both plots. These sites were last visited in 
2001 and 10 plants each were found in both plots. No information 
describing the 1993 visit was provided in the monitoring report. 
Reported numbers for Salaratus Draw 1 and Salaratus Draw 2 were 5 and 
12, respectively in 1986 (BLM 1986, p. 2) and, 2 and 11 plants, 
respectively in 1993. In 1994, the Service visited Salaratus Draw sites 
and counted 14 plants in Salaratus Draw I and 30 plants in Salaratus 
Draw II (Brooks 1995, p.1). Both of these sites were last visited in 
2001 and zero plants were reported (Roaque 2012, pers. comm.). We do 
not have locations of these sites, in relation to the other, on file. 
Because the BLM referred to these sites as simply Salaratus Draw in 
their 1986 annual monitoring report and we do the same in this document 
unless specificity between the two sites is called for. The Sunshine 
Ridge II cluster plot had 9 plants in 1986 and 23 plants in 2001. The 
Temple Trail cluster plot had 5 plants in 1986, 1 plant in 1993, and 7 
plants in 2001.
    The Toquer Tank cluster plot was visited regularly from 1986 to 
1991. The reported number of plants found during that time ranged from 
8 in 1986, up to 13 in 1991, to 7 in 1994 (Table 4) (Roaque 2012, pers. 
comm.; AGFD 2011b, entire). Information from BLM's annual monitoring 
reports for the years 1995 through 2000 noted ``no observations'' for 
the Toquer Tank cluster plot but did not provide an explanation to what 
this meant. We do not know if this signifies that the cluster plot was 
not visited or whether a visit did occur but no Fickeisen plains cacti 
were observed at the time. Subsequently, the BLM no longer included 
Toquer Tank in their monitoring reports.
    Despite the confusion with Toquer Tank and the length of time since 
the Salaratus Draw cluster plots were last visited, we believe these 
areas may still be occupied by the species. When Hughes last visited 
Salaratus Draw I and II in 2001, he noted that both sites were very dry 
(Roaque 2012, pers. comm.) and plants may have been retracted at the 
time. Hughes further noted that the cluster plots are located in areas 
with dense grass in which, the plants are difficult to find if they are 
not in bloom. We do not have any additional information to describe the 
conditions at the Toquer Tank cluster plot; however a visit to the area 
is warranted. We are seeking any information about the status of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus at these three areas, specifically information 
to describe abundance, health, and age-class diversity of the plants. 
We also seek information describing the status of its habitat and any 
land use activities occurring within occupied areas (see Information 
Requested).
    We also have limited information about the three populations 
located in House Rock Valley where the Fickeisen plains cactus has been 
documented, but these areas have not been visited in over 18 years. The 
populations are located at Beanhole Well, Marble Canyon, and South 
Canyon in House Rock Valley near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon 
National Park. The Beanhole Well population is located north of the 
South Canyon site and just south of Highway 89A near the Vermillion 
Cliffs. This is a small population that was discovered in 1979, and 
contained only three plants (Anderson and Gierisch 1979, p.1; AGFD 
2011b, entire). Field notes described the plants as healthy, scarce, 
and with several size classes present. The site had been revisited by 
Hughes, and while occupied habitat was observed, no plant numbers were 
reported to us (Calico 2012, pers. comm.). The only available 
information about the Marble Canyon site was that 8 plants were 
documented there in 1979 within a 100-by 100-m area (0.06-by 0.06-mi) 
(Phillips 1979, p. 3). Near the canyon rim of South Canyon, a total of 
41 plants among three populations were observed in 1979 within a 1,000-
by 200-m (0.62-by 0.12-mi) area. Only three plants were noted having 
several size classes present; plants appeared healthy but scarce. In 
1987, 52 plants were observed during a soil study at the South Canyon 
site (AGFD 2011b, entire). Travis (1987, p.4) observed animal burrows 
at the site with the Fickeisen plains cactus found in the disturbed 
ground. A short-term monitoring plot was established there from 1982 
until 1989 (Phillips et al. 1982, p. 7). The only available information 
described poor recruitment

[[Page 60533]]

in the plot, which was attributed to below average precipitation 
(Service 2001a, p. 1). The site was last visited in 1993 by Hughes 
(Roaque 2012, pers. comm.), who had observed several Fickeisen plains 
cacti but did not provide specific information on plant numbers. We are 
seeking any information about the status of the populations at these 
three areas, specifically information to describe abundance, health, 
and age-class diversity of Fickeisen plains cactus. We also seek 
information describing the status of its habitat and any land use 
activities occurring within occupied areas (see Information Requested).
    Navajo Nation Lands-- The Navajo Nation lists the Fickeisen plains 
cactus as a Group 3 species on the Navajo Endangered Species List, 
which is a ``species or subspecies whose prospects of survival or 
recruitment are likely to be in jeopardy in the foreseeable future'' 
(Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources 2008). There are 15 known 
populations of the Fickeisen plains cactus on the Navajo Nation (NNHP 
2011a, p. 1). Eleven populations contain fewer than 20 plants, while 
three and possibly five populations contain only two to three 
individuals (Table 3). Three hundred and fourteen plants occur in a 
single population discovered in 2009. This site was visited in February 
2012 with monitoring planned in the near future. Only 4 of the 15 
populations have been visited more than one time by the Navajo Nation 
Heritage Program staff (NNHP 2011a, p. 1). They reported substantial 
decreases in plant numbers recorded during their most recent visits to 
two of these populations; the other two populations appeared stable. We 
do not have information on the total amount of occupied habitat of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus on the Navajo Nation.
    Surveys for the Fickeisen plains cactus on the Navajo Nation 
occurred in 1994, when 280 individuals were located (NNHP 1994, p. 3). 
Re-surveying of known populations between 2004 and 2005 resulted in 
only half of the 15 populations located and substantially fewer plant 
numbers than the 280 previously reported (Roth 2005, pers. comm.). In 
2006, a monitoring plot was established at one of their largest 
populations (Salt Trail Canyon) (Roth 2007, p. 3). The plot has been 
monitored annually except for 2010, to estimate population trends and 
record reproductive efforts.
    In 2006, 119 plants were recorded within the plot. Plant numbers 
increased to 143 individuals in 2007, but this rise was primarily due 
to increased survey efforts that year (Roth 2008, p. 6). Since 2007, 
plant numbers have declined by 49 percent with 70 plants found as of 
2011 (NNHP 2011b, p. 2). In 2009, 31 plants were found dead or could 
not be relocated with 8 new recruits. In 2011, 28 plants were found 
dead or were not located with one new seedling observed (NNHP 2011b, p. 
3). Of the remaining plant in the plot, their observed condition, mean 
diameter, and reproductive output declined as well. From 2006 to 2008, 
the majority of plants were rated in excellent condition. The number of 
plants rated fair or poor increased from 4 in 2008, to 23 in 2009. 
These patterns may have been influenced by above-average rainfall in 
2005 and 2007, but below-average precipitation in 2008 through 2010, on 
the Navajo Nation (NNHP 2011b, p. 3). The mean diameter of plants 
between 2008 and 2009 was 28 mm (1.10 in). By 2011, the mean diameter 
declined by 5 mm (0.20 in) as a result of the cactus shrinking rather 
than a loss of plants in that size class. The plot has been dominated 
by the larger size classes with 1 percent of the plants recorded as 
seedlings. Reproductive structures observed in 2009 and 2011 were 
flower buds, flowers both at and past their peak, and aborted flower 
buds, an observation which was similar to phenological results in 2008. 
In general, reproductive effort in 2009 was moderate, while in 2011 it 
was extremely low compared to 2008. In 2008, 205 reproductive 
structures were observed on 98 plants, and this was attributed to 
above-average rainfall in 2007, whereas 2008 and 2010 had below-average 
rainfall (NNHP 2011b, p. 3). In summary, short-term results demonstrate 
a continued decline over the last 5 years. Mortality, combined with the 
number of plants missing between years, is exceeding the number of 
smaller, young plants observed. In addition, the reproductive output 
appears to be low, in that no fruit were observed, and was likely 
influenced by below-normal precipitation.
    Kaibab National Forest Lands--The Kaibab National Forest has 
recorded two limited occurrences of the Fickeisen plains cactus (USFS 
2005, p. 148; AGFD 2011b, entire). These occur near the National Forest 
boundary of the North Kaibab Ranger District below the eastern and 
western edges of the Kaibab Plateau. The total number of plants that 
occur is unknown, but the population is considered to be small with 
only a few individuals (Phillips 2005, pers. comm.). Additionally, the 
amount of habitat is considered to be very limited and located in 
remote areas far removed from management actions. Beyond their 
discovery, the Kaibab National Forest has not monitored these plants. 
Occupied areas are managed for multiple uses but the predominant uses 
are wildlife habitat, livestock grazing, and recreation. Additional 
suitable habitat is believed to exist in the Lower and Upper Basin 
areas on the Tusayan Ranger District. Surveys for the Fickeisen plains 
cactus are needed in order to verify this (USFS 2009, p. 72).
    State and Private Lands--A large occurrence of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus was documented in 2006, near the rim of Cataract Canyon on 
Cataract and Espee Ranches, which is owned and managed by Babbitt 
Ranches, LLC. These ranches are located on the Coconino Plateau south 
of the Grand Canyon National Park. The land within Cataract Ranch 
includes 18,210 ha (45,000 ac) of private land and 53,823 ha (133,000 
ac) of land leased from the State of Arizona (The Nature Conservancy 
(TNC) 2000, p. 4). On December 7, 2000, TNC acquired 13, 953 ha (34,480 
ac) of the privately owned parcels and placed these lands under a 
conservation easement; TNC refers to the easement land as the Cataract 
Natural Reserve Land (TNC 2000, p. 22). The easement land forms a large 
contiguous block in the southern portion of Cataract Ranch, but is 
interspersed among numerous parcels of State land in the northern 
portion of the ranch (TNC 2000, p. 3). The Espee Ranch is adjacent to 
the western boundary of the Cataract Ranch and includes State and 
private lands. Surveys for the Fickeisen plains cactus on the Espee 
Ranch were planned for spring of 2012; the status of that survey is 
unknown.
    From 2006 to 2011, Goodwin located 307 Fickeisen plains cacti at 37 
sites while conducting a general floristic inventory on the Cataract 
and Espee Ranches (Goodwin 2006, p. 7; Goodwin 2008, pp. 8-10; Goodwin 
2011a, pp. 1-9). The number of plants recorded at each site was 
detected using a 5-10 minute visual search of the area (Goodwin 2011b, 
pers. comm.). About 146 Fickeisen plains cacti are located on the 
Cataract Natural Reserve Land, and 161 plants are on State land 
(Goodwin 2011a, pp. 18-20). Only two mature plants were located on the 
Espee Ranch. Goodwin defined sites as physical breaks in the habitat 
separating one occupied area from another (Goodwin 2011b, pers. comm.). 
Occupied sites had an average of 8.3 plants (range of 1 to 32 
individuals) within a 0.10-ha (0.25-ac) or smaller sized area. About 30 
percent (92 of 307 plants) of the plants observed were classified as 
immature

[[Page 60534]]

plants that appear to be of less than breeding age. The distribution of 
the plants appears to be loosely associated with the Cataract drainage. 
Most occupied areas occurred no farther than 3.22 to 4.83 km (2 to 3 
mi) from the rim of the canyon and covered a 48-km (30-mi) linear area 
(Goodwin 2011a, p. 7). No formal surveys or permanent monitoring plots 
have been established.
    The Fickeisen plains cactus has been documented on a mix of 
Federal, tribal, and private land near the vicinity of Gray Mountain. 
These areas have not been visited for many years, and the status of the 
plants is unknown. Information from the AGFD Heritage Data Management 
System noted that a Fickeisen plains cactus found on the Navajo Nation 
near the town of Gray Mountain was collected as a herbarium specimen in 
1962 (AGFD 2011b, entire). This site was believed to have been 
revisited in 1977, but location information provided from that visit 
was too vague. The area was last visited in 2009 by the Navajo Nation 
botanist and three plants were found (NNHP 2011a, p. 2). In 1984, four 
Fickeisen plains cacti were found in the same vicinity, south of the 
Navajo Nation but on private land near a sewage disposal pond on the 
western side of Highway 89. This site has not been revisited since 
1984. Across the highway on the eastern side, 29 live and 4 dead 
Fickeisen plains cacti were found in 1981. The AGFD Heritage Data 
Management System noted that plants were scattered near Mays Wash where 
BLM, State, and privately owned lands occur (AGFD 2011b, entire); 
however the location information suggests most plants are found on BLM 
lands. In 1983, a monitoring plot was established but there is no 
information that describes those efforts or results. The area was last 
visited in 1984, and four plants were observed, three of which were in 
bloom.
    In summary, of the 1,150 Fickeisen plains cacti among 33 
populations that have been documented since 1962, we only have recent 
information pertaining to the status of 504 individuals among 6 
populations. We acknowledge that additional Fickeisen plains cacti may 
be present in the other 27 known populations, but these have not been 
visited for over 18 years, and the status of the plant is unknown. Of 
the six populations, five are currently monitored. These five plots are 
within the largest populations on the Arizona Strip and one of the 
largest populations on the Navajo Nation. Long-term results from the 
BLM show a 59.5 percent decline in plant numbers for the four monitored 
plots combined since 1992. The decline appears to be a result of higher 
rates of missing or retracted plants and mortality over several 
consecutive years and low seedling recruitment. Adult plants, which 
produce more fruit and have a greater reproductive output then immature 
plants have been removed from the BLM populations and are not being 
replaced by new recruits. Short-term monitoring results from the Salt 
Trail Canyon population on the Navajo Nation indicate plant numbers 
have declined by 49 percent in the last 5 years. This population is 
also dominated by older adult individuals that appear to have low 
reproductive output based on aborted reproductive structures observed 
in 4 of the 5 years monitoring occurred, with high mortality compared 
to recruitment.
    Of these five populations, the observed decline in seedling 
recruitment and survival is difficult to attribute to a single cause; 
it is more likely associated with a combination of environmental 
factors that are acting together. The reproductive capacity for the 
Fickeisen plains cactus is considered to be naturally low (e.g., low 
seed production and poor dispersal mechanism), in which, introducing 
external factors that may place additional stress on the life history 
characteristics of these populations may further inhibit population 
growth. Because these five monitoring plots are located in large 
populations and have demonstrated significant decreases in plant 
numbers, it is likely that the smaller, isolated populations whose 
status is unknown are experiencing similar declines. The Fickeisen 
plains cactus on the Cataract Ranch is the exception. This population 
is the only location showing relatively good age-class diversity (30 
percent of the population is considered to be immature); however, there 
is no long-term monitoring information for this area to draw 
conclusions. This area has the largest population of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus, but only 29 percent of those individuals are protected 
under the conservation easement.
    Based on the best available information on the species, the known 
numbers of the Fickeisen plains cactus have declined. It is likely that 
the species will continue to decline, for the reasons described below, 
as mature plants die and few seedlings are present to replace them. The 
viability of the five monitored populations has been reduced due to low 
recruitment and the loss of mature, reproductive plants. If the threats 
described below continue to affect these populations, the long-term 
viability of the populations may be compromised. We acknowledge that 
the observed declines are restricted to monitoring plots that may not 
accurately reflect rangewide trends. In addition, our inability to say 
with certainty that plants that have been recorded as missing or 
retracted are dead may mean that we have underestimated the decline. 
However, we conclude, based on the information analyzed, that the 
largest populations have declined, and that recruitment is reduced or 
nonexistent for the monitored populations.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Fickeisen Plains Cactus

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

    Based on the habitat characteristics described above, potential 
factors that may affect the habitat or range of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus are discussed in this section, including: (1) Livestock grazing; 
(2) nonnative, invasive species; (3) uranium mining; (4) road 
construction and maintenance; (5) ORV use and recreation; (6) 
commercial development; and (7) drought and climate change.
Livestock Grazing
    The habitat of the Fickeisen plains cactus has been grazed since 
the late 1800s, and continues to be used for grazing by cattle, 
domestic sheep, and feral horses. In general, livestock grazing may 
result in direct loss or damage to the Fickeisen plains cactus and the 
habitat that supports its persistence as a result of trampling, 
compacting soil, increasing erosion, losing the soil seed bank, 
introducing invasive species, and disturbing native pollinators 
(Klemmedson 1956, p. 137; Ellison 1960, p. 24; Fleischner 1994, entire; 
Trimble and Mendel 1995, pp. 234-240; Kearns et al. 1998, p. 90; 
DiTomaso 2000, p. 257). For the Fickeisen plains cactus, the risk of 
trampling is greatest when plants emerge above ground at the same time 
that cattle occupy the area. Given their small size and lack of hard 
spines, plants are vulnerable to being stepped on and may be killed or 
damaged as a result (Phillips and Phillips 1995, p. 6). During the wet 
winter months when rainfall is sufficient, water may collect in pockets 
of bedrock on the canyon rims, attracting livestock to these areas. 
Although most plants retract in winter, those plants whose crown sits 
above the surface are still vulnerable to trampling and risk damage to 
their meristem. Plants can also be dislodged by cattle as they wander 
through an occupied area. Increased grazing pressure can

[[Page 60535]]

negatively impact Fickeisen plains cactus habitat. The soil where 
plants occur is shallow, sandy, and easily compactible, and may be 
covered by biological soil crusts, which are easily damaged by 
trampling (NRCS 1997, p. 10; Evans and Johansen 1999, p. 185). 
Livestock concentrating within occupied areas can lead to soil 
compaction and erosion that may decrease the ability of the soil to 
store seed and support seedling establishment, and may prevent plants 
from seasonally retracting underground (BLM 2007b, p. 74).
    Bureau of Land Management Lands--Livestock grazing has occurred on 
the Arizona Strip and within the habitat of the Fickeisen plains cactus 
since the mid-1800s (BLM 2007a, p. 3-123). Unregulated use of the 
rangeland between the late 1880s and early 1900s resulted in 
overgrazing and rangeland deterioration. The passage of the Taylor 
Grazing Act (43 U.S.C. 315) in 1934 led to grazing reform and the 
establishment of allotments, kind and number of livestock, and seasons-
of-use. Between the late 1950s and 1980s, the BLM made further 
adjustments in livestock numbers and the season-of-use, and implemented 
regulated grazing systems and management plans. Compared to 1900s, the 
current permitted level of grazing has been substantially reduced. The 
land and the vegetation community is slowly recovering, with habitat 
improvements noted by the BLM over the last several decades. Although 
populations of the Fickeisen plains cactus persisted during past years 
of overgrazing, we do not have information to describe any historical 
effects grazing may have had to the plant.
    All habitat occupied by the Fickeisen plains cactus on the Arizona 
Strip occurs within active grazing allotments (BLM 2007b, p. 67). The 
Dutchman Draw plot is located in the Mainstreet Allotment and within a 
transitional pasture that is used in May for 2 to 4 weeks; the Clayhole 
Ridge plot is located within a single pasture of the White Pockets 
Allotment and has season-long grazing from mid-October to June; the 
Sunshine Ridge plot is within the Wildband pasture of the Wildband 
Allotment that is used from mid-June to September; and the North Canyon 
plot is within Rider Point pasture of the Soap Creek Allotment that has 
winter-spring use. The Salaratus Draw population is in the Salaratus 
pasture that is used in the winter season. Plants in the Temple Trail 
cluster plot are in the Temple Trail Allotment, Beanhole Well plants 
are in the Beanhole Allotment, and Toquer Tank plants are in the Toquer 
Tank Allotment (BLM 2008a, Appendix C). The Beanhole, Soap Creek, 
Temple Trail, and Wildband Allotments are categorized as ``improve 
allotments.'' These are ``managed to improve resource conditions or 
conflicts and receive the highest priority for funding and management 
actions'' (BLM 2007a, p. 3-124). The Mainstreet, Toquer Tank, and White 
Pockets Allotments are managed as ``maintain allotments.'' These 
allotments are managed ``to maintain current satisfactory resource 
conditions and are actively managed to ensure that resource values do 
not decline'' (BLM 2007a, p. 3-124). The Mainstreet Allotment is 
managed under a best pasture system, which attempts to match cattle 
movements with variable precipitation patterns and seasonal forage 
production rather than strict rotational schedules (Howery et al. 2000, 
entire). Forage utilization levels for key species are authorized at 
the 50 percent average of the current years' growth (BLM 2007a, 3-125). 
We do not have trend information describing rangeland conditions for 
the pastures occupied by the Fickeisen plains cactus. Available 
information indicates varying levels of grazing use across occupied 
habitat on the Arizona Strip (Brooks 1995, p.1; Roaque 2011, pers. 
comm.).
    Impacts associated with livestock grazing have documented direct 
mortality to the Fickeisen plains cactus from trampling. Over a 17-year 
period, monitoring by the BLM detected 12 Fickeisen plains cacti killed 
from trampling. Three plants died at Clayhole Ridge following heavy 
spring rains. Hughes (1988, p. 2) documented cattle had congregated in 
the area of the Fickeisen plains cactus, and it appeared that 
considerable bull fighting occurred, resulting in disturbance to the 
plant and the soil. Seven plants died from trampling at Sunshine Ridge, 
including a large mature plant and five seedlings in 2001 (Hughes 2004, 
p. 2), and two plants died from trampling at Dutchman Draw (Hughes 
2000a, p. 2). In House Rock Valley, the risk of trampling to the 
Fickeisen plains cactus may be greatest during the wet winter months 
when rainfall is sufficient to provide water for cattle on the canyon 
rims and into occupied habitat (Hughes 2001, pers. comm.). Because not 
all plants retract completely underground, directly stepping on the 
plant can damage the meristem and prevent flower production in the 
future.
    There is evidence from other monitored Pediocactus species that 
trampling can impact numerous plants and often results in direct 
mortality. The BLM conducts similar monitoring for the Pediocactus 
bradyi (Brady pincushion cactus) as they do for the Fickeisen plains 
cactus. Over a 14-year period, Hughes (2005b, p. 17) reported two 
plants killed in the monitored plots from trampling. However, in 
response to the Service's concern for grazing impacts to the Brady 
pincushion cactus, the BLM established linear transects to determine 
livestock damage to the Brady pincushion cactus along the rim of Marble 
Canyon (Service 2001b, entire). The results showed that 15 Brady 
pincushion cacti were killed from trampling in the 3 years the 
transects were monitored (Hughes 2005b, p. 17). Hughes commented that 
the soil was wet and hoof prints were deep in the soil. Clark and Clark 
(2008, p. 3), monitoring the Pediocactus winkleri (Winkler pincushion 
cactus), found that 58 of 107 (54 percent) plants were stepped on 
directly by cattle over a 13-year period, with some plants stepped on 
more than once. Thirty-five of those plants died immediately from being 
trampled, while of those that survived, 60 percent eventually died 
within 4 years of their trampling injury. This provides some evidence 
that damage caused to plants from trampling may not be readily apparent 
immediately after the event. We anticipate that more Fickeisen plains 
cacti have died from being stepped on, either immediately or later in 
time, but are not being detected through the current monitoring methods 
(Service 2000, p. 2; Service 2007a, p. 8).
    In the House Rock Valley, past heavy use of the range, in 
conjunction with arid conditions and drought, has resulted in 
degradation of the rangeland (Grand Canyon Trust (GCT) 2011) and slowed 
grassland regeneration. The North Canyon population was located in the 
Cram Allotment, which has been conjoined into the Soap Creek Allotment 
within the Kane Ranch. The BLM had identified the western half of the 
Cram Allotment as having a severe overgrazing problem historically and 
up until 1996. The North Canyon population occurred in the area heavily 
grazed (Hughes 2000b, p. 21). An October 1995 site visit to the Cram 
Allotment by Service staff reported that the number of cattle had been 
reduced from 150 head yearlong to 50 head in the winter-spring season 
due to the poor condition of the allotment (Brooks 1995, p. 1). In 
1995, the BLM installed new water sources on the eastern half of the 
allotment and blocked water tanks from filling up on the western half. 
This was anticipated to reduce livestock use on the western half and 
help to alleviate grazing pressure within occupied Fickeisen plains 
cactus habitat (Hughes 2000b, p. 22). In 2003 to 2004, the

[[Page 60536]]

permittee of the Cram Allotment, now Soap Creek Allotment sold all of 
the livestock and grazing ceased on the Kane Ranch until 2005. During 
the period from 2003 to 2005, the Fickeisen plains cactus in the North 
Canyon plot experienced the greatest increase in the number of plants 
observed in the plot since 1986.
    In 2005, the GCT and Conservation Fund purchased the grazing lease 
and currently maintain a reduced number of cattle on the allotment 
compared to previous levels (GCT 2011). They conducted a baseline 
ecological assessment and found nonnative, invasive species, 
particularly cheatgrass, abundant on the Kane Ranch in House Rock 
Valley and the range in poor quality likely from past heavy winter 
grazing. In addition, rangeland recovery has been slow due of the arid 
climate and drought conditions, such that forage productivity, 
vegetative cover, and soil stability are low (GCT 2011). The GCT began 
an experimental reseeding project and is investigating restoration 
techniques of the desert grassland community. These efforts, if 
successful, would improve the quality of habitat for the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.
    In summary, the Fickeisen plains cactus populations on BLM lands 
are within active grazing allotments. The timing of when cattle are 
present within occupied Fickeisen plains cactus habitat varies among 
the four populations but corresponds to the periods when the plants are 
emergent, and also when they flower and produce fruit. Direct mortality 
from trampling has resulted in the documented loss of 12 plants, but 
more plants have likely been affected. Over time, losses to mature 
individuals or damage caused by trampling that prevents future 
reproduction will result in population declines. The rangeland that 
supports habitat for the Fickeisen plains cactus experienced past 
overgrazing. Although current grazing levels are far reduced from 
historic levels, the rangeland continues to be grazed during periods of 
drought. Information from the BLM and GCT suggests that the seasonal 
variation and changes in the timing of precipitation have resulted in 
slowed recovery of the rangelands from historic overgrazing and heavy, 
winter grazing over the past few years. These effects have likely 
diminished the quality of suitable habitat, particular in the Sunshine 
Ridge and North Canyon wash plots that are being managed to improve 
resource conditions or conflicts. Both of these plots have shown great 
fluctuations in plant numbers that may be correlated with habitat 
deterioration from livestock grazing coupled with climate conditions. 
In addition, heavy use in occupied Fickeisen plains cactus habitat 
during times when the plant may already be stressed from drought may be 
contributing to the plant's poor or nonexistent germination and 
recruitment. The Fickeisen plains cactus appears to be able to rebound 
when the grazing pressure has been removed, as demonstrated in the 
North Canyon plot. However, if the population numbers are too low--such 
as the Dutchman Draw plot--recovery may be very slow, or may not occur.
    Navajo Nation Lands--Livestock grazing on the Navajo Nation has 
occurred since the 1880s, primary by domestic sheep and cattle. 
Stocking rates and the impact of grazing on the landscape have varied 
over the years (NNHP 2011a, p. 2). Overgrazing was documented in the 
past (Libecap and Johnson 1980, pp. 71-75; Richmond and Baron 1989, 
entire) and remained problematic through the mid-1990s (HCN 1996, p. 
2). We do not have information on the current grazing levels, but 
similar to the BLM land, drought conditions have compounded rangeland 
recovery from past heavy use necessitating balancing rangeland 
capacity, family-owned herd sizes, and local economies (Redsteer et al. 
2010, pp. 5-6, 11). Navajo Nation also supports an estimated 30,000 
feral horses that contribute to and cause overgrazing problems (Navajo 
Times 2012). Attempts to control the feral horse population continue to 
be an ongoing issue on the Navajo Nation.
    Livestock grazing is managed by the District Grazing Committees, 
Farm Boards, and Eastern Navajo Land Board members. Oversight and 
technical assistance is provided by the Grazing Management Office under 
the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture. In general, grazing 
permits are authorized year round on the west side of the Navajo 
Nation, while the Eastern Navajo authorizes seasonal permits for the 
mountainous areas (Hazelton 2012c, pers. comm.). Grazing permits are 
held by individuals for a certain number of animal units. The grazing 
permits are generally considered permanent and are inherited by the 
spouse or children within a family. Livestock rotation is at the 
discretion of the families that own the livestock.
    All areas occupied by the Fickeisen plains cactus on the Navajo 
Nation are potentially subjected to impacts associated with this 
grazing (NNHP 2011a, p. 1). However, monitoring has not been conducted 
in such a way to assess the overall impacts of grazing to the Fickeisen 
plains cactus and its habitat. Notes from the Navajo Nation Heritage 
Program pertaining to the 15 known Fickeisen plains cactus populations 
indicate some livestock impacts have been observed within the 3 largest 
populations (Hellhole Bend, Salt Trail Canyon, and Blue Spring) (NNHP 
2011a, p. 4). A 2012 site visit to the Hellhole Bend population 
observed habitat disturbance by feral horses and sheep, but no impacts 
to plants were observed (Robertson 2012, p. 1). Some of the native 
vegetation within occupied habitat appeared to have been heavily 
grazed, likely attributable to animals seeking forage following a dry 
winter.
    Livestock damage by sheep was observed at the Salt Trail Canyon 
population in 2005 (Roth 2007, p. 2) and again in 2008, with nine 
livestock-related mortalities. Roth (2008, p. 2) documented six dead 
plants located within a depression in the ground that was believed to 
have been dug by sheep that bedded down on top of the plants. 
Monitoring of the plot in 2011 found some evidence that the plot had 
been disturbed by animals (i.e., one plant appeared to have been partly 
eaten) and may have contributed to the high mortality that year (NNHP 
2011b, p. 4). An October 2011 site visit by the Service observed the 
habitat had been disturbed by feral horses and sheep concentrating in 
the area. We do not know at this time how frequent or how long this 
site may be used by livestock. The only other available information 
documented hoof prints of cattle and sheep near a cluster of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus at Shinumo Altar in 1991; one cactus had been 
partially uprooted and was lying in a hoof print (NNHP 1994, p. 5).
    Kaibab National Forest Lands--On the North Kaibab Ranger District, 
the Fickeisen plains cactus occurs in the Slide Pasture of the Central 
Winter Allotment that is also part of the Kane Ranch. The Slide Pasture 
has not been grazed since 2002 (Phillips 2012, p. 1). In addition, the 
Central Winter Allotment was closed to grazing from 1996 to 2001 due to 
the 21,448-ha (53,000-ac) Bridger-Knoll wildfire. The habitat type 
within 3.2 km (2 mi) of the Fickeisen plains cactus population is not 
suitable for livestock; there are occasional sagebrush, but no 
understory grasses. A 2011 Kane Ranch Environmental Assessment is 
currently in process that would address the impacts of livestock 
grazing to the Fickeisen plains cactus. Populations on the eastern side 
of the forest boundary are within the Grand Canyon National Game 
Preserve, which has no livestock grazing.
    State and Private Lands--The Cataract Ranch has been utilized for

[[Page 60537]]

livestock grazing for well over 100 years. Livestock grazing, by cattle 
and horses, occurs within occupied Fickeisen plains cactus habitat but 
is managed differently than grazing on the BLM and Navajo Nation and is 
not comparable. While the cattle operations are vital to the Cataract 
Ranch, livestock grazing is managed in a manner that is consistent with 
the philosophies, values, and conservation ethic of the Babbitt 
Ranches. For example, cattle operations are one component of the 
Cataract Ranch, but the Ranch and the other Babbitt Ranches are managed 
in a holistic manner that incorporates ecology (wildlife habitat, 
vegetation diversity, watershed health, historical preservation, 
cultural values, and recreation), the local and regional economies, and 
the local and regional human community (Babbitt Ranches 2012, entire). 
Therefore, herd sizes are not adjusted in response to seasonal 
availability of water and forage due to drought but are managed 
together with rangeland health, watershed, and wildlife habitat. More 
specific to the Fickeisen plains cactus, Goodwin (2011a, p. 8) noted no 
habitat impacts from grazing in this population while conducting 
searches for the plant from 2006-2011. Additionally, a land assessment 
by TNC determined that much of Cataract Ranch remains in an 
undisturbed, natural state (TNC 2000, p. 1), and the general ecological 
conditions of the land are excellent (TNC 2011, p. 9). While the 
Fickeisen plains cactus remains vulnerable to being stepped on by 
cattle or horses, we anticipate that livestock grazing would not rise 
to a population-level threat based on habitat conditions. We, 
therefore, do not anticipate livestock grazing on the Cataract Ranch to 
be a threat to the Fickeisen plains cactus and its habitat.
    In summary, all habitat for the Fickeisen plains cactus occurs in 
areas that have been grazed and will continue to be grazed in the 
future. Heavy grazing has been documented on approximately 40 percent 
of its range, including the Arizona Strip and Navajo Nations lands, 
with the latter being largely unregulated grazing management. Although 
current grazing pressures across the range of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus are far below the levels of the late 1800s, the continued 
presence of Fickeisen plains cactus does not suggest grazing has no 
effect on the plant. Based on available information, the rangelands are 
still recovering from past heavy grazing across the range of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus. Continued grazing on the BLM and Navajo Nation 
during the prolonged drought in the late 1990s and local droughts in 
the 2000s has added to rangeland deterioration and changes to the 
vegetation community, while the drier climate is compounding recovery 
of the grasslands that support habitat for the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Long-term monitoring has documented direct mortality to the 
Fickeisen plains cactus from livestock. More plants on the BLM lands 
have likely been killed or damaged from trampling, especially given 
evidence of trampling on other Pediocactus species, but for which the 
effects are not captured during the monitoring period. Trampling has 
removed adult individuals from the population. While this occurs 
infrequently and affects a few plants, it contributes to population 
declines and may exacerbate the effects of small population size (see 
Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence section). Thus, livestock grazing, in and of itself, may not 
rise to a population-level threat for the Fickeisen plains cactus, but 
when combined with additional stressors such as nonnative species, 
drought, and climate change, rodent and rabbit predation (discussed 
below), the combined effect will likely produce population-level 
impacts to the Fickeisen plains cactus. Therefore, we believe that 
livestock grazing, in conjunction with other factors, is a threat to 
the Fickeisen plains cactus and its habitat.
Nonnative, Invasive Plant Species
    A potential threat to the Fickeisen plains cactus and its habitat 
is nonnative, invasive species. The spread of nonnative, invasive 
species is considered the second largest threat to imperiled plants in 
the United States (Wilcove et al. 1998, p. 608). Invasive plants--
specifically exotic annuals--negatively affect native vegetation, 
including rare plants. One of the most substantial effects is the 
change in vegetation fuel properties that, in turn, alter fire 
frequency, intensity, extent, type, and seasonality (Menakis et al. 
2003, pp. 282-283; Brooks et al. 2004, p. 677; McKenzie et al. 2004, p. 
898). Shortened fire return intervals make it difficult for native 
plants to reestablish or compete with invasive plants (D'Antonio and 
Vitousek 1992, p. 73).
    Invasive plants can exclude native plants and alter pollinator 
behaviors (D'Antonio and Vitousek 1992, pp. 74-75; DiTomaso 2000, p. 
257; Traveset and Richardson 2006, pp. 211-213; Cane 2011, pp. 27-28). 
For example, cheatgrass and red brome outcompete native species for 
soil nutrients and water (Aguirre and Johnson 1991, pp. 352-353; Brooks 
2000, p. 92), as well as modify the activity of pollinators through 
producing different nectar from native species (Levine et al. 2003, p. 
776) or introducing nonnative pollinators (Traveset and Richardson 
2006, pp. 208-209). Introduction of nonnative pollinators or production 
of different nectar can lead to disruption of normal pollinator 
interactions for the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Within the range of the Fickeisen plains cactus habitat, the BLM 
identified 15 nonnative, invasive species: 9 that are designated as 
noxious weeds in Arizona and 6 nonnative species that are not listed as 
noxious weeds on the Arizona Strip (BLM 2007a, pp. 3-34). The Cataract 
Ranch identified 26 nonnative, invasive species on their land. Some of 
these species are the same species that are also found on the BLM 
(Goodwin 2011a, p. 11). Those nonnative, invasive species that are 
common to both landowners include Acroptilon repens (Russian knapweed), 
Alhagi maurorum (camelthorn), Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass), B. rubens 
(red brome), Halogeton glomeratus (halogeton), Salsola tragus (Russian 
thistle), and Taeniatherum caput-medusae (medusahead). In addition, 
Roth (2007, p. 2) documented Erodium cicutarium (redstem filaree) 
within Fickeisen plains cactus habitat on the Navajo Nation.
    On the Arizona Strip, we have some information on the distribution 
of nonnative, invasive species relative to the Fickeisen plains cactus. 
Generally, the majority of nonnatives occur near areas between 
Mainstreet Valley and just east of Hurricane Cliffs (BLM 2007a, Figure 
3-12), where Fickeisen plains cactus populations are scattered. During 
a site visit in 2011, Russian thistle was identified in the Dutchman 
Draw plot, but any negative effects the species may have on the plant 
have not been documented by the BLM. Cheatgrass, at varying levels of 
abundance, is found on the Kane Ranch in House Rock Valley. Based on 
preliminary modeling results that predict the probability of cheatgrass 
occurrence, the probability of cheatgrass occurrence appears to be low 
within in the vicinity of the Fickeisen plains cactus at North Canyon 
wash, although cheatgrass is present within proximity to the canyon 
rims.
    On the Kaibab National Forest, cheatgrass is the only nonnative, 
invasive species known to exist in the Fickeisen plains cactus habitat 
(USFS 2005, p. 139). According to the Forest, cheatgrass occurs in very 
low densities and is not expected to increase due to lack of available 
substrate and minimal habitat disturbance. However, the GCT, through 
their modeling, identified a

[[Page 60538]]

high probability of cheatgrass occurrence just south of occupied 
Fickeisen plains cactus habitat (GCT 2011). If this patch is ignited by 
a lightning strike, there is the potential for cheatgrass to carry a 
fire into the area where the Fickeisen plains cactus occurs. Another 
concern would be if a high density patch of cheatgrass were ignited but 
the fire stops short of Fickeisen plains cactus habitat, the areas 
burned could facilitate the spread of cheatgrass towards occupied 
Fickeisen plains cactus habitat, where the cactus could potentially 
decrease in density and cheatgrass become a prolific competitor.
    On the Navajo Nation, the presence of invasive, annual grasses may 
have contributed to the decline of the Fickeisen plains cactus within 
the Salt Trail Canyon (Roth 2007, p. 2). During high rainfall years, 
high densities of red brome and redstem filaree have dominated the 
habitat in the Salt Trail Canyon monitoring site (Roth 2008, p. 4). 
Roth (2005, p. 1) observed an overall decline in the Fickeisen plains 
cactus population at that time, finding more numbers of the Fickeisen 
plains cacti in areas where fewer exotic grasses occurred. Red brome is 
known to deplete soil water faster and at greater depths than native 
annual species (Brooks 2009, p. 118), and can germinate before native 
annuals in years with low precipitation and earlier in the season (Salo 
2004, p. 293). Higher densities of red brome may also reduce the 
germination of native plant species (Brooks and Esque 2000, p. 40). Red 
brome is an early flowering, winter annual species that utilizes winter 
precipitation (Rice et al. 1992, pp. 32, 38; Salo 2004, p. 291). 
Fickeisen plains cactus is also a species that germinates early in the 
spring, and, although no studies have investigated the relationship of 
nonnative, invasive annuals on the seed germination of the plant (Roth 
2008, p. 4), the occurrence of red brome and redstem filaree are likely 
to result in competition for resources the Fickeisen plains cactus 
depends on.
    Cheatgrass and red brome can increase in abundance after a wildfire 
and increase the chance for more frequent fires (D'Antonio and Vitousek 
1992, pp. 74-75; Brooks 2000, p. 92; Brooks and Pyke 2001, p. 5). In 
addition, cheatgrass invades areas in response to surface disturbances 
(Hobbs and Huenneke 1992, pp. 324-325, 329, 330). Cheatgrass and red 
brome are likely to increase due to climate change (see ``Drought and 
Climate Change'' discussion, below) because nonnative, invasive annuals 
increase biomass and seed production at elevated levels of carbon 
dioxide (Smith et al. 2000, pp. 80-81; Ziska et al. 2005, p. 1328).
    The Fickeisen plains cactus has likely evolved adaptions to low 
intensity, frequent grass fires but may not survive high intensity 
fires even at low fire return intervals. Some of the Fickeisen plains 
cacti populations occur on ledges and in areas with sparse vegetation 
away from annual grasses and would likely not be impacted. However, 
there are some populations, such as Dutchman Draw, Sunshine Ridge, and 
the Salt Trail Canyon, where invasive, annual grasses could facilitate 
the spread of fire into occupied habitat and impact the population. It 
is difficult to know for certain if cheatgrass could affect the 
Fickeisen plains cactus or its habitat on the Kaibab National Forest. 
With the probability of high densities of the species surrounding the 
plant, the potential for negative impacts does exist. In other species 
of Pediocactus, monitoring of the Pediocactus paradinei (Kaibab plains 
cactus) exposed to different fire intensities indicated high intensity 
fires resulted in plant mortality (Warren et al. 1992, abstract). There 
is also evidence suggesting that invasion and dominance of cheatgrass 
following a past fire may have contributed to the decline or loss of 
some Kaibab plains cactus in the House Rock Valley (USFS 2007, p. 47), 
suggesting that fire could impact the Fickeisen plains cactus in a 
similar manner. At this time, however, we do not have sufficient 
information to evaluate whether the presence of nonnative, invasive 
species would facilitate the spread of wildfires into Fickeisen plains 
cactus habitat.
    In summary, nonnative, invasive species such as cheatgrass, red 
brome, and redstem filaree grow rapidly and are prolific seed producers 
in wet years. Although we lack site-specific information on where 
nonnative, invasive species occur, we do know they occur in varying 
densities within or near the Fickeisen plains cactus. Invasion of these 
species may contribute to the low recruitment of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus by inhibiting seedling germination due to competition and 
increasing the plant's risk of exposure to high intensity fires. 
Densities of the nonnative, invasive species may increase due to 
climate change (see ``Drought and Climate Change'' section, below) 
because invasive annuals increase biomass and seed production at 
elevated levels of carbon dioxide (Brooks and Pyke 2001, p. 42; Bradley 
2009, p. 203). Based on available information, we anticipate that 
densities of nonnative, invasive species will increase in the future. 
Therefore, we consider nonnative, invasive species to be a threat to 
the Fickeisen plains cactus.
Uranium Mining
    High-quality uranium ore deposits are found on the Arizona Strip 
and on the Coconino Plateau. Interest in the region's uranium deposits 
increased in 2008, as the price for uranium ore rose, and applications 
for new mining claims were sought on public lands surrounding the Grand 
Canyon. In response, the Secretary of the Interior signed Public Land 
Order Number 7787 (PLO 7787) effectively withdrawing 407,335 ha 
(1,006,545 ac) of Federal mineral estates within three parcels from any 
individual or company making a new mining claim under the Mining Law of 
1872 (30 U.S.C. 22 et seq.) for a 20-year period (BLM 2012a, pp. 1-4). 
Existing locatable mineral operations in the withdrawal area will 
continue to be managed under the current Federal land agency 
regulations.
    However, notices of intent or plans of operations submitted after 
the effective date of the withdrawal for mineral exploration or 
development on BLM and the National Forest System lands on claims pre-
dating the withdrawal would not be able to proceed unless the mining 
claim was determined to be valid under the Mining Law of 1872 as of the 
date of the segregation from new mining claims (July 21, 2009). 
Sampling may still occur on claims pre-dating the withdrawal to support 
the mineral examination. In the event the claims are determined to be 
valid, mining activities could occur at some point in the future (BLM 
2011a, 2-14).
    There are three Fickeisen plains cactus populations in two parcels 
of the withdrawal area boundary. The Sunshine Ridge population is in 
the North parcel; the North Canyon wash and the Kaibab National Forest 
populations are in the East parcel (BLM 2011a, Figure 3-8.1). The 
mineral withdrawal essentially removed the potential for negative 
effects on the Fickeisen plains cactus and its habitat that would be 
associated with the location and development of new mining claims for 
the longevity of PLO 7787. Although, if the development of existing 
valid mining claims in the East parcel were to proceed, we anticipate 
that the potential for adverse effects from the mine on the North 
Canyon wash population would be low. This is primarily due to plants 
growing on ledges and along the rim of the wash, where mineral activity 
would not likely occur. We also anticipate this low impact scenario to 
be likely for the

[[Page 60539]]

Kaibab National Forest population due to its proximate location near 
canyon rims.
    On the North Parcel, there are six mines surrounding the Sunshine 
Ridge population (BLM 2011a, Figure 2.4-2). Two mines (Hack Canyon and 
Hermit mines) are located in close proximity to the Sunshine Ridge 
population but are currently in reclamation status and no impacts to 
the population are anticipated. Three mines (Arizona 1, Kanab North, 
and Pinenut) have an approved plan of operation and pre-date the 
withdrawal. All three are located well outside of occupied Fickeisen 
plains cactus habitat. The Arizona 1 mine has been operating since late 
2009 (BLM 2012b, p. 6), and no impacts to the plants have been 
documented by the BLM. The Pinenut mine is scheduled to begin 
operations in 2012 (McKernan 2012, pers. comm.), but due to its 
distance from the Sunshine Ridge population, no impacts are 
anticipated. The Kanab North mine is operating under interim management 
(e.g., standby status) and will begin reclamation activities in the 
summer of 2012. The sixth mine, EZ Mine, is located to the west of the 
population and proposed for development. The potential direct and 
indirect effects to the Fickeisen plains cactus would be the loss, 
removal, or injury of plants and loss of habitat from the development 
of the mine but also habitat degradation or fragmentation from road 
construction, material transport, and new power lines (Payne et al. 
2010, pp. 8-9; BLM 2011a, p. 2-15). The BLM, however, will complete a 
project-specific environmental analysis in the near future that 
addresses site-specific analysis, findings, and decisions regarding the 
EZ Mine, and what plan of operations will be made (BLM 2011a, pp. 2-29-
2-30). We anticipate the opportunity to work with BLM and address any 
potential negative impacts from this mine on the Fickeisen plains 
cactus at that time. In addition, the North Parcel has seven breccia 
pipes that are confirmed to have uranium resources, and those uranium 
resources have been estimated (BLM 2011a, pp. 3-35-3-36; BLM 2012b, p. 
7). Any mining claim containing these seven breccia pipes would be able 
to demonstrate valid existing rights and would be mined. If one of the 
claims were to be developed into a mine, the BLM would take measures to 
minimize impacts to the Fickeisen plains cactus, such as conducting 
preconstruction surveys to flag avoidance areas and minimize impacts to 
the species (BLM 2007b, pp. 74-76).
    Lands on the Arizona Strip that are outside of the withdrawal area 
boundary are open to uranium mineral development (BLM 2008a, pp. 1-20). 
Because the Fickeisen plains cactus occurs in small, isolated areas on 
particular soil types, small disturbances to the vegetation and soils 
may reduce suitable habitat; increase the erosion potential; enable 
invasion of nonnative, invasive plants; and increase the risk of 
mortality from clearing, crushing, or trampling associated with 
developing mining sites (Service 2007a, p. 90; BLM 2011a, p. 4-154). 
The BLM anticipates a very low likelihood that any such project would 
be proposed within the habitat of the Fickeisen plains cactus. If such 
a project is proposed, the BLM would take measures to minimize impacts 
to the Fickeisen plains cactus as described above (BLM 2007b, pp. 74-
76).
    On the Coconino Plateau, just south of the Grand Canyon National 
Park, there is a continued interest in uranium mining on State land. 
The company VANE Minerals holds mineral rights (or mineral interest to 
mine uranium) on a large number of properties that are spread over an 
area of approximately 16,187 sq km (6,250 sq mi) (VANE Minerals 2012) 
and that include occupied Fickeisen plains cactus habitat on State land 
within the Cataract Ranch. The company has completed surface drilling 
for their Wate Uranium Breccia Pipe--located 9 miles south of the Grand 
Canyon National Park and near the Hualapai Indian Reservation. The 
company is pursuing a mineral lease from the Arizona State Land 
Department for ``uranium exploitation'' of the Wate deposit and for 
preliminary efforts regarding development of the mine. No Fickeisen 
plains cactus has been documented in this general area, and therefore 
the plant would not be affected by development of a mine. Exploration 
drilling has been conducted for twelve additional uranium mineralized 
breccia pipes that are located within 32 km (20 mi) of the Wate deposit 
(SRK Consulting 2011, p. 14-1). No mineral resources for these have 
been established as of 2011, but if a uranium resource is confirmed, a 
potential exists for a mine to be developed. If that occurs and 
depending on location information, there is a potential for 
construction and operations to impact the Fickeisen plains cactus on 
State land within Cataract Ranch. Direct and indirect impacts would be 
the same as those identified for the Sunshine Ridge population. 
However, any development, including mining and associated roads from 
State land that would need to cross onto land in the Cataract Natural 
Reserve Land, would be prohibited. Additionally, the location of some 
Fickeisen plains cacti growing near the rim of Cataract Canyon may be 
protected from development activities, but those located 4.8 km (3 mi) 
from the rim could potentially be impacted. Loss of individual plants 
would lead to declines in the Cataract Ranch population, which is 
currently the largest known population, and hinder the ability of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus to increase its distribution in this area. It 
would also contribute to the further decline of the rangewide 
population.
    In summary, PLO 7787 effectively withdrew over 407,335 ha 
(1,006,545 ac) of federal mineral estates for a 20-year period; this 
action removes the immediate threat of habitat loss or degradation 
associated with development of new uranium mines to the Fickeisen 
plains cactus populations in House Rock Valley, in the Kaibab National 
Forest, and on Sunshine Ridge. We acknowledge the possibilities that 
valid existing mining claims in the withdrawal area boundary could 
result in the development of a uranium mine in the future. If that 
happens, we are less concerned with the three populations being 
adversely affected because of the specific location of the plants near 
canyon rims. For land on the Arizona Strip that is outside of the 
withdrawal boundary area, we anticipate a low probability that 
Fickeisen plains cactus populations would be impacted by future uranium 
development. If a mine were to be developed near occupied habitat, the 
BLM would implement avoidance measures to reduce or minimize impacts to 
the Fickeisen plains cactus, which we anticipate would be incorporated 
into their analyses for the development of the EZ Mine. On State land, 
the potential for uranium mining could result in direct mortality and 
loss of habitat within the Cataract Ranch population. However, most 
plants are located in close proximity to the rim of Cataract Canyon and 
would not likely be affected by mining construction or operations. 
Additional protection to the plant is provided through the terms of the 
conservation easement, which prohibits new development, including 
mining, on those parcels, thus preventing new roads or right-of-ways 
from State lands crossing onto private lands. Therefore, based on 
available information, we do not anticipate that development of a 
uranium mine would rise to the level of significance and meaningfully 
impact the Fickeisen

[[Page 60540]]

plains cactus and its habitat. Thus, we conclude that uranium mining is 
not a threat to the Fickeisen plains cactus or its habitat.
Road Construction and Road Maintenance
    Roads can destroy or modify habitat and increase human access that 
may lead to trampling (discussed below). Additionally, road 
construction can lead to increased erosion, and vehicle traffic on 
unimproved roads can result in increased atmospheric dust and dust 
deposition on vegetation. Road maintenance on U.S. Highway 64 near the 
Navajo Nation resulted in three Fickeisen plains cacti being salvaged 
from the existing right-of-way and a fourth cactus protected by fencing 
(Arizona Department of Transportation 1992, p. 1). Road maintenance 
also contributed to an unknown amount of habitat loss or disturbance, 
which was likely small in size.
    We analyzed road maintenance and considered it a potential threat 
to the Fickeisen plains cactus in the November 9, 2009, Candidate 
Notice of Review (74 FR 57804). On the Arizona Strip, the Fickeisen 
plains cactus occurs next to roads that receive routine maintenance. 
The cactus grows close to and, in some cases, in the middle of existing 
unpaved but well-maintained roads, making it highly vulnerable to 
becoming crushed or injured by motorized vehicles. Road maintenance 
activities had resulted in the mortality of a few individuals of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus on BLM land. These appear to have been isolated 
occurrences that happen infrequently and impacted a small number of 
individual plants. Future road construction associated with both 
uranium and urban development may impact plants that occur on non-BLM 
lands. However, future road construction is anticipated to be localized 
in time and space, and would not rise to the level of becoming a 
significant threat to the Fickeisen plains cactus. Therefore, we do not 
consider road construction and road maintenance to be a threat to the 
Fickeisen plains cactus.
Off-Road Vehicle Use and Recreation
    Off-road vehicles are a means of transportation and a form of 
recreation in the range of the Fickeisen plains cactus. On the Arizona 
Strip, the BLM limits motorized and mechanized vehicle use within 
Fickeisen plains cactus habitat to existing routes and trails. However, 
motorized vehicles may pull off a designated route up to 30.5 m (100 
ft) on either side of the centerline to camp. There is the potential 
for vehicles to injure or kill a Fickeisen plains cactus and impact its 
habitat by pulling off the roadway to park or turn around (BLM 2007b, 
p. 75). Plants growing along the Navajo Trail near Mainstreet Valley 
have been affected by drivers pulling off designated routes in the past 
(Hughes 2005, pers. comm.). Disturbance from ORV use associated with 
unauthorized camping was documented in House Rock Valley, where a 
driver drove off-road towards the canyon rim near the South Canyon 
population (Service 2007b, p. 1). These are the two documented reports 
that we have of the Fickeisen plains cactus being impacted by ORV use 
on BLM lands since 2005. In reviewing the BLM's monitoring reports, 
there were no documented mortalities associated with ORV use to the 
Fickeisen plains cactus over the 23 years the plant was monitored.
    Most of the Fickeisen plains cactus habitat on the Navajo Nation is 
accessible by dirt two-track roads. Although traffic in these areas is 
light, and there is an extensive network of existing dirt roads, new 
roads are continually being created, presumably by locals herding 
livestock (NNHP 2011a, p.1). No plants have reportedly been impacted, 
but there is potential for habitat degradation as a result. In 
addition, 9 of the known 15 populations are located along the scenic 
canyon rims of Marble Canyon and the Little Colorado River gorge, where 
tourist traffic is concentrated. Car tires and foot traffic have been 
documented as damaging the Fickeisen plains cactus at some of these 
sites (NNHP 1994, p. 5; NNHP 2011a, p. 1). These impacts are likely to 
increase in the future as there are future plans to develop tourist 
activities on Navajo land near Marble Canyon and the Little Colorado 
River gorge (NNHP 2011a, p. 1).
    On the Cataract Ranch, increased recreation, primarily associated 
with hunting, has been observed since 2006. Hunting relies on the use 
of ORV to retrieve wildlife and access camp sites. However, no impacts 
to the Fickeisen plains cactus related to recreational activities or 
ORV use have been observed while conducting searches for the plant on 
the Cataract Ranch (Goodwin 2011a, p. 8).
    In summary, the habitat of the Fickeisen plains cactus is mostly 
open with flat topography. With most plants growing along scenic canyon 
rims, there is an increased risk of plants being destroyed or damaged 
by vehicles driving off-road for recreational purposes. We identified 
ORV use as a potential threat to the Fickeisen plains cactus in our 
annual assessment for candidate species (most recently at 75 FR 69222, 
November 10, 2012). At this time, however, we cannot quantify the 
extent of ORV-use impacts on the taxon or its habitat, but they 
continue at some unknown level. Most documented occurrences happened in 
the past and were isolated occurrences. ORV use may become a threat to 
the Fickeisen plains cactus in the future but at this time, we do not 
consider it to be a threat to the plant or its habitat.
Commercial Development
    The Navajo Nation is currently interested in developing its land 
along the canyon rims of Marble Canyon and the Little Colorado River 
gorge to increase tourism and create more jobs that would boost their 
local economy (NNHP 2011a, p. 1; Navajo-Hopi Observer 2012). The Navajo 
Nation President recently signed a nonbinding agreement with a local 
Arizona developer that lists a resort hotel and spa, restaurant, half-
mile river walk, and recreational vehicle park among the attractions 
that would enable tourists to easily descend into the Grand Canyon. 
While we do not have specific information about these plans, 
development along the rim of the Little Colorado River has the 
potential to impact the Salt Trail Canyon population located nearby. 
Trampling of plants by people and loss of plants and habitat to make 
way for development are both of concern. Available information suggests 
that plans for the proposed development have not begun (NNHP 2011a, p. 
1) and may still be in the early design phase.
    The Salt Trail Canyon is a known recreational site located to the 
north of the Fickeisen plains cactus population. Aside from use by 
hikers, the area is used by Federal and State agencies as a point of 
entry to conduct native fish surveys in the Little Colorado River. 
Overall use of the area appears to be minimal, and no recreational 
impacts to the Fickeisen plains cactus have been observed.
    A popular tourist destination that has existed for many years 
occurs within the Fickeisen plains cactus population that is adjacent 
to a Little Colorado River overlook. This population was last visited 
in 1997, and contained 15 plants distributed among two ridges (NNHP 
2011a, p. 4). Abundant foot traffic within occupied habitat was 
identified as a threat to the population by the Navajo Nation Heritage 
Program. Although the tourism at this site will continue in the future, 
most foot traffic is confined to paved sidewalks leading towards the 
canyon rim and outside of occupied habitat. An additional population 
occurs east of the overlook

[[Page 60541]]

area that is also well known among plant enthusiasts and, as a 
consequence, frequently visited (NNHP 1994, p. 5). This population was 
last visited in 1999, and one individual was located (Table 3). The 
timing of the visit was outside of the flowering season, making it 
difficult to locate plants (NNHP 2011a, p. 4). Both of these areas are 
easily accessible from the highway and receive a large number of 
visitors. Trampling of plants and habitat disturbance associated with 
tourism may increase in the future simply due to the popularity of this 
site and the accessibility of plants next to the highway. Although 
habitat disturbances to the Fickeisen plains cactus have occurred here 
in the past and may be occurring presently, we have no information to 
be able to quantify this threat.
    There is also a potential for human development to expand into or 
next to the Fickeisen plains cactus habitat on the Navajo Nation. A 
land dispute between the Navajo and Hopi Tribes resulted in the 
implementation of a construction ban in 1966 that limited development 
(Maxx 2012, p. 2). That ban was lifted in 2009, but no development has 
occurred due to the poor economy. The land has remained mostly 
undeveloped, but the ability to construct new homes or make 
improvements provides Tribal members access to areas previously 
restricted. If this occurs, we do not anticipate the Fickeisen plains 
cactus to be significantly impacted because new home locations would 
not be near the canyon rim where the plant occurs. Additionally, the 
Fickeisen plains cactus is listed as a Group 3 species on the Navajo 
Endangered Species List, which is a ``species or subspecies whose 
prospects of survival or recruitment are likely to be in jeopardy in 
the foreseeable future'' (Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources 
2008, entire). Its listed status on tribal land, in addition to the 
location of the Salt Trail Canyon population within an area designated 
as a Preserve, would likely reduce or minimize impacts to the 
population (see Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory 
Mechanisms, below).
    In summary, commercial development associated with tourism 
activities has impacted the Fickeisen plains cactus' habitat. Impacts 
to occupied habitat near the Little Colorado River overlook were 
documented in the past and are ongoing. This population is small and 
would benefit from a current site visit. Plans for future commercial 
development near Marble Canyon and the Little Colorado River gorge may 
substantially impact the Salt Trail Canyon population through potential 
habitat loss or disturbance. The Salt Trail Canyon population is one of 
the larger populations on the Navajo Nation and rangewide. Losses to 
this population would result in further declines to the rangewide 
population. However, the protected status of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus and its occurrence within a designated Preserve would to 
minimize or reduce potential impacts from future commercial 
development. In addition, we do not have any information to indicate 
whether plans to develop commercial properties will occur in the 
future. Therefore, the threat of commercial development is not 
impending, and we do not consider this a threat at this time or within 
the near future.
Drought and Climate Change
    For background information, please refer to the first paragraph of 
the ``Drought and Climate Change'' discussion under Factor A. The 
Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of its 
Habitat or Range in the Summary of Factors Affecting the Acu[ntilde]a 
Cactus. As previously discussed, the Fickeisen plains cactus is an 
endemic species with localized, small populations. In addition, these 
populations are restricted to very specific soil types. Global climate 
change exacerbates the risk of extinction for species that are already 
vulnerable due to low population numbers and restricted habitat 
requirements. Predicted changes in climatic conditions include 
increases in temperature, decreases in rainfall, and increases in 
atmospheric carbon dioxide in the American Southwest (Easterling et al. 
2000, pp. 2072-2073; IPCC 2007, p. 48; Archer and Predick 2008, pp. 23-
24; Karl et al. 2009, p. 129). Although we have no information on how 
the Fickeisen plains cactus will respond to effects related to climate 
change, persistent or prolonged drought conditions are likely to reduce 
the frequency and duration of flowering and germination events; lower 
the recruitment of individual plants; compromise the viability of 
populations; and impact pollinator availability, as pollinators have 
been documented to become locally extinct during periods of drought 
(Memmott et al. 2007, pp. 713-715). The smallest change in 
environmental factors, especially precipitation, plays a decisive role 
in plant survival in arid regions (Jordan and Nobel 1981, pp. 904-905; 
Nobel 1984, pp. 310, 316).
    In the last 30 years, the Colorado Plateau has experienced a 0.2 to 
0.5 [deg]C (32.36 to 32.9 [deg]F) increase in average temperature, 
particularly in average fall-winter temperatures. Future climate 
projections forecast increases in both the average and extreme 
temperatures that are expected to result in less available soil 
moisture for plants (Schwinning et al. 2008, p. 14). In addition, the 
Colorado Plateau may be shifting towards a climate of reduced winter 
precipitation over the next 20 to 30 years. Winter accumulation, which 
recharges the soil moisture needed for spring vegetative growth, was 
below average in 11 years from 1996 to 2007. Similarly, spring 
precipitation was below average in 8 years from 1996 to 2006 (Hereford 
2007, p. 6). By 2090, precipitation is predicted to decline by as much 
as 5 percent across the Colorado Plateau, placing greater stress on 
native plants and resulting in a greater susceptibility of existing 
ecosystems to be replaced by nonnative, invasive plant species (BLM 
2011b, entire).
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is adapted to the semi-arid climate of 
the Colorado Plateau by retracting underground in response to dry and 
cold climatic conditions. Weather patterns, timing of precipitation, 
and cool nighttime lows influence germination and seedling 
establishment of the Fickeisen plains cactus (Brack 2012, pers. comm.). 
If climate patterns move towards more aridity, the reproductive output 
of the Fickeisen plains cactus may be reduced. Increases in summer 
temperatures may lead to longer periods of time that the plant remains 
retracted underground, and temperatures may rise to a level that is 
beyond the plants' natural threshold for survival. Studies on cacti 
seedling survival have shown that seedlings are able to survive long 
periods of drought when they are larger and have the capacity to store 
enough water to endure their first dry season (Nobel 1984, p. 316). 
Seedlings of the Fickeisen plains cactus have been observed under 
mature plants, which act as nurse plants; the shading provided by a 
parent or nurse rock may increase their survival (NNHP 1994, p. 4). 
Increases in soil temperatures, coupled with below-average 
precipitation, may increase seedling mortality.
    A study published in 2012 modeled the species' distribution of 
endemic plants on the Colorado Plateau (Krause and Pennington 2012, 
entire). It identified limiting factors that define the habitat needs 
of the species and the top-five predictor variables that influence 
their distribution. In level of

[[Page 60542]]

importance, the model included the Fickeisen plains cactus' and ranked 
the minimum temperature of the coldest month second, precipitation of 
driest quarter third, and isothermality fourth in predicting Fickeisen 
plains cactus distribution (Krause and Pennington 2012, p. 140). Of 
emphasis was the variable isothermality, the mean day-to-night 
temperature range compared to the annual temperature range, in 
predicting endemism on the Colorado Plateau. As nighttime lows during 
the winter season are predicted to increase, isothermality or the 
reduction in daily temperature variance may hinder seedling germination 
for the Fickeisen plains cactus for reasons discussed above.
    On BLM lands, observed trend information from the four monitoring 
plots appear to correlate with changes in climate patterns. Increases 
in plant numbers and observed seedlings were documented between 1986 
and roughly 1992. These years were characterized as a wet period where 
the annual precipitation was above the regional median on the Colorado 
Plateau (USGS 2002, p. 2). After 1992 through approximately 2005, when 
the region experienced a prolonged drought, the Fickeisen plains cactus 
among the plots experienced variable decreases in plant numbers. 
Monitoring of the Fickeisen plains cactus during years with below-
average precipitation documented low recruitment, increased rodent 
predation, and an increase in the number of plants retracted or missing 
(Hughes 1988, p. 1; Hughes 1996c, p. 1; Roaque 2012, pers. comm.). In 
total, 817 plants were recorded as missing or retracted over the 13 
years when this parameter was recorded. The years with the highest 
number of missing plants were from 1999 to 2007, the time period that 
corresponds to the drought in the Southwest. We do not believe all 817 
missing plants are attributed solely to drought, but drought is likely 
a significant contributing factor to the observed decline in the 
populations.
    The Navajo Nation is in one of these driest areas in the State. 
About 45 percent of all annual precipitation occurs during the warmer 
months of July through September. Climate data are variable on the 
reservation, but long-term information shows a drying trend has 
occurred since 1944, and a warming trend has occurred since the mid-
1970s (Navajo Times 2011). The drought in the Four Corners region was 
officially recorded from 1999 to 2009, although many residents believe 
it began in 1996, which would make it the longest drought in Navajo 
history. The effects of the last drought have been particularly extreme 
on the population. For example, from 2001 to 2002, Navajo officials 
reported 30,000 cattle mortalities from lack of water and forage. Many 
traditional people on the reservation live in subsistence lifestyles. 
Over half of the population lives without indoor plumbing and are 
dependent on hauling water. Their water supplies are derived from 
shallow aquifers and are sensitive to dry conditions. When availability 
is low, families often use water supplies intended for livestock 
(Redsteer et al. 2010, p. 2).
    In interviews with 50 tribal elders, Redsteer et al. (2010, p. 7) 
summarized the most common observations regarding drought: (1) Long-
term decreases in the amount of annual snowfall over the past century; 
(2) decline in surface water features and water availability; (3) 
disappearance of springs and of plant and animal populations; and (4) 
changes in the frequency of wind, sand, and dust storms. These have 
been corroborated with other findings. Weiss et al. (2009, p. 5923) 
found that a significant increase in evapotranspiration occurred during 
the warmer months of the 2000s drought due to higher temperatures. It 
is likely that above-average spring temperatures are linked to a 
decrease in the amount of new growth among plants. It has been 
suggested that warmer spring temperatures lead to early germination. 
Plants respond by ending dormancy and begin using available soil 
moisture earlier and more quickly in the season. Then, they must 
survive longer dry periods before the start of the monsoons (Redsteer 
et al. 2010, p. 7).
    Seasonal increases in temperature and changes in the timing of 
precipitation have likely influenced the observed 49 percent decline in 
the Salt Trail Canyon population. The observed low recruitment, high 
number of plants missing between years, and mortality can be thus be 
partly attributed to the drought (NNHP 2011b, pp. 4-5). Corresponding 
with regional climate patterns, annual precipitation during the 
monitoring period was below average for each year except for 2007. 
Winter precipitation was uncommonly high during 2005, the year before 
the monitoring plots were installed, and in 2010, the year that the 
plots were not monitored. While several winter storms came through the 
region, total rainfall accumulation was still below average during the 
2011 monitoring period. Many of the plants that could not be located in 
2011 were assumed dead because their vigor during previous surveys was 
rated as ``poor'' in 2009 (NNHP 2011b, p. 3). Some of these plants may 
have been retracted at the time. However, many plants observed between 
2008 and 2011 failed to produce fruit or flower, and fruit buds were 
observed to be aborted. This suggests low seed production, which would 
cause that population to decline over time.
    In summary, the climate on the Colorado Plateau and Navajo Nation 
is predicted to become warmer with reduced precipitation in the future. 
We have strong evidence to suggest that the Fickeisen plains cactus is 
being impacted by drought coupled with increased annual temperatures. 
We believe that the high number of dead and missing or retracted plants 
in all plots monitored is influenced by below-average winter or spring 
precipitation at the time when plants need soil moisture to flower. 
Poor reproduction in the Fickeisen plains cactus is likely to worsen in 
the future if climatic patterns shift towards becoming more arid with 
increased winter nighttime temperatures. With climatic models 
predicting future regional droughts, it is likely that all populations 
of the Fickeisen plains cactus will continue to be affected by drought 
and climate change. However, it is not clear if drought or climate 
change, of themselves, present population-level threats of extinction. 
It appears that drought and climate change in combination with rodent 
predation (see Factor C. Disease or Predation, below), as a combined 
effect, is the more likely scenario for population-level impacts to the 
plant. Additionally, the small and declining populations of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus make the species susceptible to natural 
environmental variability, including climate conditions. Therefore, 
based on our review of the available information, we conclude that 
climate change and drought are threats to the Fickeisen plains cactus 
populations.
Summary of Factor A
    Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we conclude that fire associated with nonnative, invasive 
plant species; uranium mining; road construction and road maintenance; 
ORV use; and commercial development are not threats to the Fickeisen 
plains cactus and its habitat. We have determined that direct loss of 
plants and habitat loss and modification due to the direct and indirect 
effects of livestock grazing; nonnative, invasive plant species; and 
drought and climate change are threats to the Fickeisen plains cactus. 
These threats, in and of

[[Page 60543]]

themselves, may not result in significant population-level impacts to 
the Fickeisen plains cactus. However, the above factors appear to be 
acting synergistically, placing a major stress on the known plants 
monitored rangewide with little indication of population growth and 
age-class diversity. The populations for which we do not have reliable 
and current information on their status are likely in decline. These 
populations are also being impacted by drought and are also susceptible 
to the same level of threats as the monitored populations. Thus, the 
combined effects of each threat elevate the intensity and scope of 
impacts to the Fickeisen plains cactus and its habitat to where these 
threats are significant over time. Therefore, based on our review of 
the available information, we conclude that the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus habitat or range is a threat to the species.

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

    Unauthorized collection is a potential threat for all species of 
cacti, but it is a specific and definite threat for the genus 
Pediocactus. Their small size, large attractive flower, and rarity make 
Pediocactus species in general highly sought by collectors, growers, or 
gardens (Benson 1982, p. 243). Pediocactus are difficult to grow and 
maintain in cultivation. As plants grown in backyard gardens die, there 
is more demand for replacement plants. Unauthorized collection is 
currently a continuing problem for populations of the threatened 
Pediocactus winkleri (Winkler cactus) in south-central Utah (NPS 2004, 
p. 1; Borthwick 2012, pers. comm.).
    We identified unauthorized collection of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus as a potential threat in our 2006 Candidate Notice of Review (71 
FR 53756) and as a minor threat in our 2010 Species Assessment and 
Listing Priority Assignment Form. Phillips et al. (1982, p. 5) 
considered the Fickeisen plains cactus to be highly sought after and 
collected by commercial cactus collectors or hobbyists wherever it was 
found. For the period 1994 to 1997, the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) annual report documented a total of 
5 specimens and 5015 seeds of Fickeisen plains cactus exported (Service 
2001a, p. 4). However, we do not know what impact the unauthorized 
collection had on the Fickeisen plains cactus during that time. We are 
not aware of any evidence of unauthorized collection of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus within the last ten years. The BLM and the Navajo Nation 
have not observed or documented incidences of Fickeisen plains cacti 
being collected on their lands. In addition, we do not have information 
from the Arizona Native Plant Division indicating that unauthorized 
collection of Fickeisen plains cactus from their natural habitat has 
occurred (Reimer 2012, pers. comm.). Furthermore, apprehension of 
collectors or enforcement of the law is difficult for Pediocactus 
species considering they occur in remote areas that are not regularly 
patrolled.
    Currently, collection pressure on the Fickeisen plains cactus and 
demand for plants in the wild appears to be low for several reasons. 
Over the past 20 years, there has been increased sensitivity towards 
collection of rare plants from their natural populations among 
collectors who are satisfied with taking photographs rather than live 
specimens (Brack 2005, pers. comm.; Brack 2012, pers. comm.). Secondly, 
the Fickeisen plains cactus has been difficult to grow in cultivation 
mainly because of its specificity to particular climate conditions 
(cold winter temperatures) (Brack 2012, pers. comm.). However, more 
experienced growers have successfully propagated seeds and grown 
seedlings in captivity. Growers in Europe have successfully gown the 
Fickeisen plains cactus in cultivation because their climate is similar 
to that of the Colorado Plateau (Brack 2012, pers. comm.). Currently, 
the Fickeisen plains cactus is available from commercial vendors who 
can meet the market demand for this rare plant which has helped 
alleviate collection pressures. Seeds of the Fickeisen plains cactus 
are also readily available for sale on the Internet to cactus 
hobbyists.
    In summary, unauthorized collection is a threat for some 
Pediocactus species and a potential threat for the Fickeisen plains 
cactus. Based on the best available information, we have no evidence 
suggesting that overutilization of the Fickeisen plains cactus for 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes has occurred or is 
negatively affecting individuals or populations within the species' 
range. We also have no evidence to suggest that overutilization of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus will occur in the future to such an extent that 
the survival of the species would be compromised. Therefore, 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes is not considered to be a threat to the Fickeisen 
plains cactus now, nor do we expect it to be in the future.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    We are aware of a single report of a potential diseased plant in 
the Shinumo Altar population on the Navajo Nation. In 1991, a mature 
plant in poor condition was observed to have a large hole through its 
caudex with orange-red material there. We have no further information 
regarding disease in other Fickeisen plains cactus populations. 
Therefore, we do not consider disease to be a threat to the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.
Rodent and Rabbit Predation
    Small mammal herbivory on cactus species is known to occur during 
dry conditions when animals seek available moisture from the plant or 
available food from cactus fruit (Butterwick 1987, p. 3; Phillips and 
Phillips 2004, pp. 14-15; Sivinski and McDonald 2007, p. 104). Because 
of their small size and spongy spines, the Fickeisen plains cactus may 
be less protected from animals than other spiny cactus species. 
Herbivory, primarily by rodents, on the Fickeisen plains cactus has 
been reported only on BLM lands; however, it likely occurs throughout 
the range.
    The BLM reported a total of 56 plant mortalities associated with 
rodent predation in the years 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992. All of the 
four plots have had reported rodent predation. The greatest losses were 
reported at Dutchman Draw plot, with 21 plants lost between 1988 and 
1990 (Hughes 1988, p. 2; Hughes 1989, p. 2; Hughes 1990, p. 2), and 26 
plants at the North Canyon plot in 1992 (Roaque 2012, pers. comm.). 
Correspondingly, the winter-spring precipitation in 1992 was below 
average. Small mammal burrows have been observed at the Dutchman Draw, 
Clayhole Ridge (Robertson 2011, p. 1), and South Canyon (Travis 1987, 
p. 4) populations. We do not have information about these burrows; 
however, they may be contributing to the high number of missing or 
retracted plants within plots. Hughes (1996a, p. 51) believed that 
heavy cattle grazing may in some part contribute to high incidences of 
rodent predation through competition for available forage, particularly 
during periods of drought that, in turn, cause rodents to eat the 
cactus. While the relationship between drought and rodent predation is 
less obvious on BLM lands, mortality associated with rodent herbivory 
on other Pediocactus species suggests that the Fickeisen plains cactus 
is likely being impacted rangewide in a similar fashion.
    Monitoring efforts on other Pediocactus species reported high rates

[[Page 60544]]

of plant mortality associated with rodent herbivory. The BLM found that 
rodent predation resulted in 81 Brady pincushion cactus mortalities 
over a 15-year period (BLM 2007b, p. 55). Phillips and Phillips (1995, 
p. 7) reported 23 Peebles Navajo cactus individuals were lost due to 
herbivory in 1989, which was attributed to a dry and warmer than normal 
winter. Sivinski and McDonald (Service 2010, p. 5) identified rabbit 
and rodent predation as a significant cause of mortality on the 
Pediocactus knowltonii (Knowlton's cactus). They also found that 
predation rates increase during periods of drought, and no significant 
germination events had been observed over a 14-year period (Service 
2010, p. 12). They infer that low recruitment may be due to high seed 
predation by rodents in 1993, and they find that seeds of mature fruit 
are readily eaten by rodents as the fruit ripens, resulting in little 
seed left to mature.
    We acknowledge that small mammal herbivory is natural under drought 
conditions. While the data are variable for the Fickeisen plains 
cactus, there is adequate evidence from monitoring studies on this 
species and other Pediocactus species that rodent predation is high in 
drought years. Climatic conditions throughout the Southwest are 
predicted to continue to warm with less precipitation in the future as 
previously discussed. We, therefore, anticipate that rodent or rabbit 
herbivory may increase in the future as a result of predicted changes 
in climate. In addition, rodent predation results in the mortality of a 
large number of individuals, effectively causing population declines in 
a population that is already small in number. Although we lack clear 
evidence of the scope of the impact that rodent predation has had on 
the Fickeisen plains cactus and its seeds, taken in conjunction with 
other habitat disturbances occurring across its range, low recruitment, 
and small population size, rodent predation is likely to rise to the 
level where it becomes a threat to the plant.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Please refer to the two introductory paragraphs of the Factor D 
discussion presented above for the acu[ntilde]a cactus. There are no 
existing laws or regulations in place that address the primary threats 
to the Fickeisen plains cactus and its habitat from livestock grazing; 
nonnative, invasive species; rodent predation; drought; or climate 
change. Those legal and regulatory mechanisms that are in place appear 
to be adequate to protect the plant.
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is listed as a highly safeguarded 
native plant under the Arizona Native Plant Law (Arizona Revised 
Statutes, Chapter 7, 2007, entire). Removal of highly safeguarded 
native plants and their parts is prohibited on public land except by 
permit. They are also protected from international trade by CITES; 
however, CITES does not regulate take or domestic trade. While these 
measures lessen the impact from regulated collection, as described 
above, there is no indication that an active trade for this plant 
exists or poses a threat to this plant.
    The BLM lists the Fickeisen plains cactus as a sensitive species 
(BLM 2007a, p. 3-87). As described in the BLM Manual section 6840 (BLM 
2008b, pp. 37-38), the BLM will focus sensitive species management on 
maintaining species' habitat in functional ecosystems, ensuring the 
species is considered in land management decisions, and prioritizing 
conservation that emphasizes habitat needs for the species, thereby 
preventing the need to list the species under the Act. The BLM has the 
ability to implement conservation measures and best management 
practices to reduce the threats to the Fickeisen plains cactus from 
livestock grazing, but we are not aware of any efforts to minimize 
cattle impacts to the plant or its habitat. In their approved 2008 
Resource Management Plan, the BLM designated vegetative habitat areas 
at Twist Hills and Upper Clayhole Valley for the Fickeisen plains 
cactus (BLM 2008a, p. 2-41). Management actions that apply to 
vegetative habitat areas include increased emphasis on protection of 
the species; increased consideration during National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) analyses; and the ability to 
modify, mitigate, postpone, or restrict proposed actions to minimize 
effects to the species. Species-specific conservation measures will 
apply to management of these and all other areas of occupied and 
unoccupied habitat for special status species. Because these vegetative 
habitat areas were recently designated, beneficial effects to the plant 
and its habitat have yet to be documented.
    On the Navajo Nation, the Fickeisen plains cactus is a Group 3 
species on the Navajo Endangered Species List. Group 3 species are 
those ``species or subspecies whose prospects of survival or 
recruitment are likely to be in jeopardy in the foreseeable future'' 
(Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources 2008, entire). Species 
listed pursuant to the Navajo Nation Tribal Code 17, Subsection 507 are 
protected by take (17 N.N.C. Sec.  507). In addition to its listed 
species protection, 9 of the 15 populations are within areas designated 
as a Preserve, including the three largest populations. No new activity 
or development is allowed within these Preserves, unless it is 
compatible with management goals established by the Navajo Nation 
Department of Fish and Wildlife for that area. Any development project 
proposed within a Preserve requires a biological evaluation be 
prepared. The biological evaluation must demonstrate that the 
development activity is compatible with management goals for the 
Preserve, as defined by the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and 
Wildlife Resource Land Use Clearance Policies. These policies are also 
used by Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife to ensure that 
proposed development activity in a Preserve will not negatively affect 
any listed species, including the Fickeisen plains cactus. It does not, 
however, apply to daily activities, such as livestock herding and any 
tourist activities that cannot be easily regulated (e.g., driving and 
parking at unofficial overlooks) (Hazelton 2012c, pers. comm.). It also 
does not include approved pre-existing activities.
    On the Cataract Ranch, privately owned parcels occupied by the 
Fickeisen plains cactus are under a conservation easement held by TNC 
(TNC 2000, entire). These deeded lands prohibit any development 
activities from occurring on these parcels and protect the inherent 
value of the land for perpetuity. Daily activities such as livestock 
grazing and range improvements are permitted. Approximately 29 percent 
of the known Fickeisen plains cactus population is protected by the 
conservation easement.
    In summary, there are no existing legal or regulatory mechanisms in 
place to address the primary threats to the Fickeisen plains cactus and 
its habitat. While the BLM has the ability to provide habitat 
protection for the Fickeisen plains cactus, any actions would be 
voluntary under conservation measures aimed to improve the status of 
sensitive species. The existing legal or regulatory mechanisms that are 
currently in place do appear to provide adequate protection to the 
Fickeisen plains cactus and its habitat in the manner they were 
intended to provide.

[[Page 60545]]

Factor E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued 
Existence

Small Population Size
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is a rare, endemic cactus that is 
restricted to a particular soil type. Factors such as the small 
population size, low population density, the isolation of populations 
between occurrences, and a poor mechanism for seed dispersal renders 
this cactus vulnerable to extinction from human and natural 
disturbances. We recognize that this species appears to have always 
been rare, yet continues to survive, and could be well equipped to 
continue to exist into the future. 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 does not necessarily predispose it to being an 
endangered or threatened species.
    However, this species has shown a marked decline in recent years, 
and populations across its range do not appear to be recovering. This 
indicates that there is a heightened risk of extinction, and the 
contributing factors of ever decreasing population size, coupled with 
poor seed dispersal, increase the extinction risk. Small populations 
that are restricted by habitat requirements are more vulnerable to the 
effects of climate change, such as prolonged droughts and increased 
fire frequencies. Although small population size and climate change 
make the species intrinsically more vulnerable, we are uncertain 
whether they would rise to the level of threat by themselves. However, 
when combined with the threats from livestock grazing, rodent and 
rabbit predation, and nonnative, invasive species, small population 
size likely exacerbates the effects of these threats on the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.

Proposed Determination for the Fickeisen Plains Cactus

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the Fickeisen plains cactus. We find that the species is in danger 
of extinction due to the current and ongoing modification and 
destruction of its habitat and range (Factor A) from ongoing and future 
livestock grazing; nonnative, invasive species; and long-term drought. 
The most significant factors threatening the Fickeisen plains cactus 
across its range are long-term drought and warmer winters occurring in 
the past several decades and projected to continue with the effects of 
climate change. We find that livestock grazing and nonnative species, 
in combination with drought and climate change, exacerbate the threats 
to this species (Factor A). We also find predation (Factor C) and other 
natural or manmade factors are threats to the Fickeisen plains cactus 
(Factor E). We do not find any threats to the species from unauthorized 
collection (Factor B). We find no inadequate existing regulatory 
mechanisms (Factor D).
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that the Fickeisen plains 
cactus is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range 
based on documented loss of individuals on the majority of its range, 
little to no recruitment, and continuation of the threats, as described 
above. Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and 
commercial information, we propose listing the Fickeisen plains cactus 
as an endangered species in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) 
of the Act.
    The elevated risk of extinction of the Fickeisen plains cactus is a 
result of the cumulative stressors on the species and its habitat. We 
have detailed information about population trends from 5 large 
populations, all of which show a significant decline in overall 
population, reduction in reproductive adults, little to no seedlings, 
and low representation of age-class diversity. The decline of these 5 
populations is likely indicative of what is occurring in other 
populations that are smaller, more isolated and not as well studied. 
Some of these smaller populations have already shown declines in plants 
numbers; at some sites, plants no longer are found. Information from 
the 27 populations would increase our knowledge of the species, but it 
is uncertain if these populations will be monitored in the future due 
to resource limitations and access to the land. Losses of adult plants 
in a naturally rare, endemic species exacerbate the species 
vulnerability to extinction because the older, larger adults contribute 
more to the population's growth. In the Fickeisen plains cactus, water 
and heat stress results in reduced flower and seed production, and 
seedling survival is dependent on winter precipitation and soil 
moisture. Climate change is anticipated to increase drought periods and 
warming winters. This combination is expected to continue the 
documented trend of mortality exceeding recruitment across all 
populations. All of these factors contribute together to heighten the 
risk of extinction and lead to our finding that the Fickeisen plains 
cactus is in danger of extinction, and thus meets the definition of an 
endangered species.
    Listing the Fickeisen plains cactus as a threatened species is not 
the appropriate determination because the ongoing threats described 
above are severe enough to create the immediate risk of extinction. The 
continued loss of reproductive adults without adequate recruitment 
poses a significant and immediate risk of extinction to the species 
throughout the species' range, and is not restricted to any particular 
significant portion of that range. All of these factors combined lead 
us to conclude that the threat of extinction is high and immediate, 
thus warranting a determination of endangered species status rather 
than threatened species status for the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is an endangered species or a threatened species 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The threats to 
the survival of the species occur throughout the Fickeisen plains 
cactus' range and are not restricted to any particular significant 
portion of that range. Accordingly, our assessment and proposed 
determination applies to the species throughout its entire range.

Available Conservation Measures for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus and the 
Fickeisen Plains Cactus

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies; private 
organizations; and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of

[[Page 60546]]

the Act requires the Service to develop and implement recovery plans 
for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The recovery 
planning process involves the identification of actions that are 
necessary to halt or reverse the species' decline by addressing the 
threats to its survival and recovery. The goal of this process is to 
restore listed species to a point where they are secure, self-
sustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed, preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan, and revisions to the plan as significant new information 
becomes available. The recovery outline guides the immediate 
implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to 
be used to develop a recovery plan. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that will achieve recovery of the species, 
measurable criteria that determine when a species may be downlisted or 
delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans 
also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery 
efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery 
tasks. Recovery teams (comprised of species experts, Federal and State 
agencies, nongovernment organizations, and stakeholders) are often 
established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the recovery 
outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan will be 
available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our 
Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.
    If these species are listed, funding for recovery actions will be 
available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State 
programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the 
academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 
under section 6 of the Act, the State of Arizona would be eligible for 
Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the 
protection and recovery of the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen 
plains cactus. Information on our grant programs that are available to 
aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Although the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus 
are only proposed for listing under the Act at this time, please let us 
know if you are interested in participating in recovery efforts for 
either of these species. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new 
information on these species whenever it becomes available and any 
information you may have for recovery planning purposes (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the 
Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of a species proposed for listing or result in destruction or 
adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is 
listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal 
agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out 
are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species or 
destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action 
may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible 
Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with the Service.
    Federal agency actions within both species' habitat that may 
require conference or consultation, or both, as described in the 
preceding paragraph include any management actions that could result in 
impacts to soil characteristics or seedbank viability, pollinators or 
their habitat, and associated native vegetation community, and any 
other landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by 
Federal agencies, such as: Issuance of section 404 Clean Water Act (33 
U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; 
construction and management of gas pipeline and power line rights-of-
way by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; reauthorization of 
grazing permits by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, and 
construction and maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal 
Highway Administration.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to endangered plants. 
All prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, implemented by 50 CFR 
17.61, apply. These prohibitions, in part, make it illegal for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to import or 
export, transport in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of a 
commercial activity, sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign 
commerce, or remove and reduce the species to possession from areas 
under Federal jurisdiction. In addition, for plants listed as an 
endangered species, the Act prohibits the malicious damage or 
destruction on areas under Federal jurisdiction and the removal, 
cutting, digging up, or damaging or destroying of such plants in 
knowing violation of any State law or regulation, including State 
criminal trespass law. Certain exceptions to the prohibitions apply to 
agents of the Service and State conservation agencies. The acu[ntilde]a 
cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus are protected under the Arizona 
Native Plant Law as a highly safeguarded plant, which makes it unlawful 
for any person to destroy, dig up, cut, collect, mutilate, harvest or 
take, and place into possession any of these plants on public lands 
(Arizona Revised Statutes, Chapter 7, 2007, entire). However, the 
Arizona Native Plant Law does not prohibit landowners from removing or 
destroying protected plants on their property. They are required to 
notify the Arizona Department of Agriculture 20 to 60 days prior to 
destruction of a protected native plant on their private property. 
However, the Arizona Native Plant Law does not afford protection to the 
habitat of either cactus species, and there is no protection for the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus or the Fickeisen plains cactus on State lands, 
above what is allowable under the Arizona Native Plant Law.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened plant species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.62 for endangered plants, and at 17.72 for threatened plants. With 
regard to endangered plants, a permit must be issued for the following 
purposes: For scientific purposes, or for the enhancement of 
propagation or survival of the species.
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species

[[Page 60547]]

is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to 
increase public awareness of the effect of a proposed listing on 
proposed and ongoing activities within the range of species proposed 
for listing. The following activities could potentially result in a 
violation of section 9 of the Act. Unauthorized collecting, handling, 
possessing, selling, delivering, carrying, or transporting of the 
species, including import or export across State lines and 
international boundaries, except for properly documented antique 
specimens of these taxa at least 100 years old, as defined by section 
10(h)(1) of the Act.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Arizona 
Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Critical Habitat

Background

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency 
funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species 
or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a destruction or 
adverse modification finding, the obligation of the Federal action 
agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but 
to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction 
or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they 
contain physical or biological features (1) essential to the 
conservation of the species and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical 
habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as 
space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those 
physical and biological features within an area, we focus on the 
principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary 
constituent elements such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal 
wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that are essential to the 
conservation of the species. Primary constituent elements are the 
specific elements of physical or biological features that provide for a 
species' life-history processes, and are essential to the conservation 
of the species.
    Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a 
determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the 
species. We designate critical habitat in areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by a species only when a designation limited 
to its range would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the 
species.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on 
Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in 
the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information 
Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government 
Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), 
and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria, 
establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions 
are based on the best scientific data available. They require our 
biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of 
the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources 
of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical 
habitat.
    When we are determining which areas should be designated as 
critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the 
information developed during the listing process for the species. 
Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the 
species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans 
developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and 
studies, biological assessments, other unpublished materials, or 
experts' opinions or personal knowledge.
    Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another 
over time. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a 
particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that 
we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. 
For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that 
habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed 
for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the 
conservation of the species, both inside and outside the critical 
habitat designation, will continue to be subject to: (1) Conservation 
actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) regulatory 
protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) of the Act 
for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species, and (3) the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act if actions 
occurring in these areas may affect the species. Federally funded or 
permitted projects affecting listed species outside their designated 
critical

[[Page 60548]]

habitat areas may still result in jeopardy findings in some cases. 
These protections and conservation tools will continue to contribute to 
recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat designations made 
on the basis of the best available information at the time of 
designation will not control the direction and substance of future 
recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other species 
conservation planning efforts if new information available at the time 
of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome.

Prudency Determination for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus and the Fickeisen 
Plains Cactus

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable, the Secretary designate critical habitat at 
the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened 
species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the 
designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the 
following situations exist: (1) The species is threatened by taking or 
other human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be 
expected to increase the degree of threat to the species; or (2) such 
designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species.
    There is no documentation that the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the 
Fickeisen plains cactus are threatened by collection. Therefore, they 
are unlikely to experience increased threats by the identification and 
mapping of critical habitat. In the absence of a finding that the 
designation of critical habitat would increase threats to a species, if 
there are any benefits to a critical habitat designation, then a 
prudent finding is warranted. The potential benefits of designation 
include: (1) Triggering consultation under section 7 of the Act, in new 
areas for actions in which there may be a Federal nexus where it would 
not otherwise occur because, for example, it is or has become 
unoccupied or the occupancy is in question; (2) focusing conservation 
activities on the most essential features and areas; (3) providing 
educational benefits to State or county governments or private 
entities; and (4) preventing people from causing inadvertent harm to 
the species.
    The primary regulatory effect of critical habitat is the Act's 
section 7(a)(2) requirement that Federal agencies refrain from taking 
any action that destroys or adversely modifies critical habitat. At 
present, the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus occurs 
on Federal, State, Tribal, and private lands in Arizona. Lands proposed 
for designation as critical habitat would be subject to Federal actions 
that trigger the section 7 consultation requirements. These include 
land management actions and permitting by the BLM, OPCNM, and BMGR for 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus; and by the BLM and Kaibab National Forest for 
the Fickeisen plains cactus. In addition, lands proposed for 
designation as critical habitat, whether or not under Federal 
jurisdiction, may be subject to Federal actions that trigger the 
section 7 consultation requirement, such as the granting of Federal 
monies or Federal permits.
    There may also be some educational or informational benefits to the 
designation of critical habitat. Educational benefits include the 
notification of lessees and the general public of the importance of 
protecting habitat.
    Although we make a detailed determination of the habitat needs of a 
listed species during the recovery planning process, the Act has no 
provision to delay designation of critical habitat until such time as a 
recovery plan is prepared. We reviewed the available information 
pertaining to habitat characteristics where these two species are 
located. This and other information represent the best scientific data 
available and lead us to conclude that the designation of critical 
habitat is prudent for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains 
cactus.

Critical Habitat Determinability for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus and the 
Fickeisen Plains Cactus

    As stated above, section 4(a)(3) of the Act requires the 
designation of critical habitat concurrently with the species' listing 
``to the maximum extent prudent and determinable.'' Our regulations at 
50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) state that critical habitat is not determinable 
when one or both of the following situations exist:
    (i) Information sufficient to perform required analyses of the 
impacts of the designation is lacking, or
    (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well 
known to permit identification of an area as critical habitat.
    When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act provides for an 
additional year to publish a critical habitat designation (16 U.S.C. 
1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)).
    We reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological 
needs of the species and habitat characteristics where this species is 
located. This and other information represent the best scientific data 
available and led us to conclude that the designation of critical 
habitat is determinable for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.

Acu[ntilde]a Cactus

Physical or Biological Features

    In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) and 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act and 
regulations at 50 CFR 424.12, in determining which areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing to 
designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species and 
which may require special management considerations or protection. 
These include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior;
    (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;
    (3) Cover or shelter;
    (4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) 
of offspring; and
    (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are 
representative of the historical, geographic, and ecological 
distributions of a species.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features required for 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus from studies of this species' habitat, ecology, 
and life history as described below. We have determined that the 
physical or biological features described below are essential for the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus.
Habitat for Individual and Population Growth, Including Sites for 
Germination, Pollination, Reproduction, Pollen and Seed Dispersal, and 
Seed Banks
    Pollination and Pollen Dispersal--Preservation of the mix of 
species and interspecific interactions they encompass greatly improves 
the chances for on-site survival of rare species (Tepedino et al. 1996, 
p. 245). Bee nesting habitat, foraging plants, and corridors must be 
preserved to protect the acu[ntilde]a cactus (Buchmann 2012, pers. 
comm.; McDonald 2007, p. 4). The acu[ntilde]a cactus relies solely on 
the production of seeds for reproduction, with pollination highly 
linked to the acu[ntilde]a cactus' survival. A lack of pollinators 
would lead to a reduction of seed production that would lead, in turn, 
to a gradual reduction in the seed bank (Wilcock and Neiland 2002, p. 
276). Although viability of seed in the

[[Page 60549]]

seed bank is unknown, germination trials in the greenhouse suggest the 
seeds are short-lived (Rutman 2007, p. 7), thus this could result in 
decrease in the acu[ntilde]a cactus population's persistence.
    Successful pollination depends on the pollinator species needed and 
the distance the pollinator can travel between flowers (McDonald 2005, 
p. 15). Acu[ntilde]a cacti are pollinated by a suite of bees from the 
Andrenidae, Anthophoridae, Anthophorinae, Halictidae, and Megachilidae 
families; however, the most abundant, robust, and consistent visitors 
in a 2-year study at OPCNM were leafcutter bee (Megachile palmensis) 
and cactus bee (Diadasia rinconis) (Johnson 1992, p. 406). Leafcutter 
and cactus bees are native cactus specialist bees requiring a 
sufficient quantity of the acu[ntilde]a and other cacti pollen 
throughout their foraging season to provide a continuous source of 
pollen to provision their nests and support their own survivorship 
(Blair and Williamson 2008, p. 428).
    No studies of pollinator dispersal distance have been conducted for 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus; however, in a study of a similar rare cactus 
of Arizona's Sonoran Desert, the Pima pineapple cactus, McDonald (2005, 
p. 29) determined that the maximum distance that the cactus bees 
travelled between Pima pineapple cactus individuals was 900 m (2,953 
ft). The maximum distance travelled by the leafcutter bee is thought to 
be less than this (Buchmann 2012, pers. comm.). This distance around 
individual cacti is needed to support pollinator foraging, nesting, and 
survivorship.
    Therefore, based on our review of the best available information, 
we identify a pollination area with a radius of 900 m (2,953 ft) around 
each reproducing acu[ntilde]a cactus plant as a physical or biological 
feature of acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.
    Seed Dispersal, Germination, Growth, and Seed Banks--Bare soils 
within the seed dispersal range of the acu[ntilde]a cactus are 
necessary for recruitment and soil seed banking. Primary and secondary 
dispersal of these seeds can occur via a number of mechanisms including 
gravity, ants, wind, or rain (Butterwick 1982-1992, entire; Rutman 
1996b, pers. comm.; Rutman 2001, pers. comm.; Anderson 2011, p. 1). 
Primary dispersal is the movement of seeds short distances from the 
plant, whereas secondary dispersal involves the redistribution of seeds 
by living (e.g., insects) or non-living (e.g., wind) factors (van 
Rheede van Oudtshorrn and van Rooyen 1999, pp. 186-187).
    As evidenced by their commonly clumped habit, the majority of the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus seeds are dispersed by gravity; that is, they fall 
very close to the mother plant, which serves as a nurse plant for 
germination (Johnson et al. 1993, p. 178). Although with this type of 
dispersal the distance seeds travel is limited, the immediate 
environment of the mother plant is typically very suitable for 
establishment, and these seeds have a better chance of germination, 
establishment, and survival than seeds dispersed by other mechanisms 
(van Rheede van Oudtshorrn and van Rooyen 1999, p. 91).
    Ants have been reported to both transport and consume the seeds of 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus (Butterwick 1982-1992, entire; Rutman 1996b, 
pers. comm.; Rutman 2001, pers. comm.; Anderson 2011, p. 1). 
Transported seeds may be dropped, discarded, or buried at either an 
appropriate or inappropriate depth for germination and emergence (van 
Rheede van Oudtshorrn and van Rooyen 1999, p. 15). Transported seed has 
the benefit of reduced competition from other seeds and reduced rodent 
predation found near the mother plant (O'Dowd and Hay 1980, p. 536; 
Vander Wall et al. 2005, p. 802). The maximum distance seeds are 
dispersed by ants is typically less than 3 m (9.8 ft) and rarely more 
than 10 m (32.8 ft) (van Rheede van Oudtshorrn and van Rooyen 1999, p. 
186).
    The maximum distance seeds are dispersed by wind depends on many 
factors including the height of the plant, characteristics of the 
surrounding vegetation, seed mass and size, and wind conditions (van 
Rheede van Oudtshorrn and van Rooyen 1999, p. 186). Secondary dispersal 
by wind can be farther in deserts, where vegetation is widely spaced 
and interspaces between trees and shrubs support wind velocities as 
much as four times higher than under trees and shrubs (van Rheede van 
Oudtshorrn and van Rooyen 1999, p. 187). Wind-blown soil, litter, and 
small seeds accumulate under shrubs and trees, or in soil surface 
depressions (Shreve 1942, p. 205; van Rheede van Oudtshorrn and van 
Rooyen 1999, p. 187).
    Dispersal of seed from rain wash or sheet flow over the ground is 
considered to occur across a relatively short distance; in hot deserts, 
many plants disperse seed by rain (van Rheede van Oudtshorrn and van 
Rooyen 1999, pp. 69, 76). The distance that the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
seeds travel by either wind or water is not known; however, spacing of 
associated nurse trees and shrubs where soil, litter, and seed could 
accumulate is roughly 8 m (26.2 ft). This number was determined by 
using the average height of the largest tree associate, palo verde, as 
height and density are closely related (Shreve 1942, pp. 202-203; 
Kearney and Peebles 1951, p. 407).
    Therefore, based on our review of the best available information 
regarding the maximum distance that seed may be expected to disperse, 
and within which the acu[ntilde]a cactus seed banks, seedling 
establishment, and seedling growth can occur, we identify bare soils 
immediately adjacent to and within 10 m (32.8 ft) of existing 
reproductive acu[ntilde]a cactus plants as a physical or biological 
feature of acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.
Appropriate Geological Layers and Topography That Support Individual 
Acu[ntilde]a Cactus Plants
    Geology--Bedrock and soil chemistry could help explain the current 
distribution of the acu[ntilde]a cactus across small islands of habitat 
in southern Arizona. Various reports describe the acu[ntilde]a cactus 
occurring on both fine and course textured soils derived from volcanic, 
granitic, and metamorphic rocks (Geraghty and Miller 1997, p. 3; Rutman 
2007, pp. 1-2). Specifically, parent rock materials of preferred 
habitat include extrusive felsic volcanic rocks of rhyolite, andesite, 
and tuff, and intrusive igneous rocks composed of granite, 
granodiorite, diorite, and quartz monzonite (Rutman 2007, pp. 1-2).
    We applied this knowledge of the acu[ntilde]a cactus geologic 
habitat preference by analyzing geology features and known plant 
locations attained for populations occurring within the United States 
using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). We determined 11 geologic 
feature classes that occur within the known locations of the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus in the United States (Arizona State Land Department 
2012, GIS data layer). These feature classes can be summarized as 
Volcanic rocks from the middle Miocene to Oligocene and from the 
Jurassic; Granitoid rocks from the early Tertiary to Late Cretaceous 
and from the Jurassic; Granitic rocks from the early Tertiary to Late 
Cretaceous; Metamorphic rocks from the early Proterozoic; and surficial 
deposits from the Holocene to the latest Pliocene. Therefore, based on 
our review of the best available information regarding bedrock geology 
and associated soils required by the acu[ntilde]a cacti, we identify 
the presence of any one of these 11 feature classes as a physical or 
biological feature of acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat. These feature 
classes can be further summarized to include the following rock types 
as identified in the literature for this species: rhyolite, andesite, 
tuff, granite, granodiorite,

[[Page 60550]]

diorite, or Cornelia quartz monzonite (Rutman 2007, pp. 1, 2).
    Topography--The acu[ntilde]a cactus is known to occur in valley 
bottoms and on ridge tops or small knolls, on slopes up to 30 percent 
(Phillips et al. 1982, p. 4; Geraghty and Miller 1997, p. 3). We 
applied this knowledge of the acu[ntilde]a topographic habitat 
preference by analyzing topography features using a digital elevation 
model in GIS. Therefore, based on our review of the best available 
information regarding topography, we identify valley bottoms, ridge 
tops, and small knolls with slopes of 30 percent or less as a physical 
or biological feature of acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.
Appropriate Vegetation Community and Elevation Range That Support 
Individual Acu[ntilde]a Cactus Plants
    Nurse Plants--Known populations of the acu[ntilde]a cactus have 
been reported from between 365 and 1,150 m (1,198 to 3,773 ft) 
elevation within the paloverde-cacti-mixed scrub series of the Arizona 
Upland Subdivision of the Sonoran Desert-scrub (Brown 1994, p. 200; 
Arizona Rare Plant Guide Committee 2001, unnumbered pages; AGFD 2011, 
entire). This scrubland or low woodland contains leguminous trees, 
shrubs, and succulents including Cercidium microphyllum (palo verde), 
Olneya tesota (ironwood), Larrea tridentata var. tridentata (creosote 
bush), Ambrosia spp. (bursage), and Carnegia gigantea (saguaro). The 
acu[ntilde]a cactus seedlings benefit from the protection of these 
native Sonoran Desert trees and shrubs, as well as other larger 
acu[ntilde]a cacti that act as nurse plants by providing protection 
from temperature extremes and physical damage (Felger 2000, p. 208; 
Johnson et al. 1993, p. 178). The acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals are 
generally more robust in these situations, as opposed to in open, 
exposed locations (Felger 2000, p. 208). Therefore, based on the 
information above, we identify the presence of creosote bush, ironwood, 
palo verde, and other native protective plants to be a physical or 
biological feature necessary for acu[ntilde]a cactus survival.
    Native Vegetation Dominance--The acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat should 
be relatively free from perennial grass invaders as these alter 
structure, function, dominance, and disturbance regimes, and have been 
shown to drastically lower species diversity, within the Sonoran Desert 
(Olsson et al. 2012, p. 10). Such changes have great potential to 
impact acu[ntilde]a cacti and their pollinators. In addition, such 
introduced grasses as buffelgrass form continuous mats and remove open 
bare ground for nesting bees such as Diadasia spp. (Buchmann 2007, p. 
13). These bees move nesting sites yearly to shed parasites, therefore 
requiring the continued availability of sandy, well-drained, bare 
ground available to create nests (Buchmann 2012, pers. comm.). 
Therefore, based on our review of the best available information, we 
identify Sonoran Desert-scrub habitat dominated by native plant species 
to be a physical or biological feature necessary for acu[ntilde]a 
cactus survival.

Primary Constituent Elements for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus

    Under the Act and its implementing regulations, we are required to 
identify the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of acu[ntilde]a cactus in areas occupied at the time of 
listing, focusing on the features' primary constituent elements. We 
consider primary constituent elements to be the elements of physical or 
biological features that provide for a species' life-history processes 
and are essential to the conservation of the species.
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the primary constituent 
elements specific to the acu[ntilde]a cactus are:
    (i) Native vegetation within the Paloverde-Cacti-Mixed Scrub Series 
of the Arizona Upland Subdivision of the Sonoran Desert-scrub at 
elevations between 365 to 1,150 m (1,198 to 3,773 ft). This vegetation 
must contain predominantly native plant species that:
    a. Provide protection to the acu[ntilde]a cactus. Examples of such 
plants are creosote bush, ironwood, and palo verde;
    b. Provide for pollinator habitat with a radius of 900 m (2,953 ft) 
around each individual, reproducing acu[ntilde]a cactus;
    c. Allow for seed dispersal through the presence of bare soils 
immediately adjacent to and within 10 m (32.8 ft) of individual, 
reproducing acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    (ii) Soils overlying rhyolite, andesite, tuff, granite, 
granodiorite, diorite, or Cornelia quartz monzonite bedrock that are in 
valley bottoms, on small knolls, or on ridgetops, and are generally on 
slopes of less than 30 percent.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing contain features which are essential to the conservation of 
the species and which may require special management considerations or 
protection. The features essential to the conservation of the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus may require special management considerations or 
protection to reduce the following threats: livestock grazing; border 
activities; ORV use; mining; and nonnative, invasive plant species. 
Currently some of these threats are not identified to occur at a level 
that threatens populations with extinction; however without management 
of these threats, they could rise to this level. Refer to the five-
factor analysis above for more information on these threats. Management 
activities that could ameliorate these threats include, but are not 
limited to, improving habitats and potentially increasing plant 
population numbers on lands the BLM, NPS, or the State of Arizona 
currently holds or may hold in the future. Special management to 
protect the features essential to the conservation of the species 
include conservation measures and actions to minimize effects of 
livestock grazing, road and trail building; construction of new border 
control facilities, towers or fences, ORV use, and mining, and to 
control nonnative, invasive plants on these lands. These management 
activities will protect the essential physical or biological features 
for the species by maintaining native vegetation communities, 
preserving soil characteristics, and providing habitat for the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus and its pollinators.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific data available to designate critical habitat. We review 
available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the 
species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulation at 
50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating additional areas--
outside those currently occupied as well as those occupied at the time 
of listing--are necessary to ensure the conservation of the species. We 
are proposing to designate critical habitat in areas within the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, as 
described above in the proposed rule to list the acu[ntilde]a cactus, 
and contain sufficient elements of physical or biological features to 
support life-history processes essential for the conservation of the 
species. We also are proposing to designate specific areas outside the 
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing that 
we have determined to be essential to the conservation of the species.
    We reviewed available information and supporting data that pertain 
to the

[[Page 60551]]

habitat requirements of the acu[ntilde]a cactus. This information 
included research published in peer-reviewed articles and presented in 
academic theses and agency reports, as well as data collected from 
long-term monitoring plots, interviews with experts, and regional 
climate data and GIS coverage. Sources of information include, but are 
not limited to, Brown 1994, Buchmann 2007, Butterwick 1982-1992, Felger 
2000, Holm 2006, Johnson 1992, Johnson et al. 1993, McDonald 2007, 
Olsson et al. 2012, Phillips et al. 1982, NPS 2011a, NPS 2011b, Rutman 
2007, Van Rheede van Oudtshorrn, K. and M.W. van Rooyen 1999, and WRCC 
2012. Based on this information, we developed a strategy for 
determining which areas meet the definition of critical habitat for 
acu[ntilde]a cactus.
Occupied Area at the Time of Listing
    In identifying proposed critical habitat units for acu[ntilde]a 
cactus, we proceeded through a multi-step process. We obtained all 
records for acu[ntilde]a cactus distribution from AGFD, as well as both 
published and unpublished documentation from our files. There is no 
information on the historical range of this species; survey results 
confirm that plant distribution is comprised of disjunct occupied 
habitat in two general areas of south-central Arizona.
    Our approach to delineating critical habitat units was applied in 
the following manner:
    (1) We overlaid acu[ntilde]a cactus locations into a GIS database. 
This provided us with the ability to examine slope, aspect, elevation, 
geologic type, vegetation community, and topographic features. These 
data points verified and slightly expanded the previously recorded 
elevation ranges for acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    (2) In addition to the GIS layers listed above, we then included a 
900-m (2,953-ft) buffer around known populations to ensure that all 
potential pollinators would have a sufficient land base to establish 
nesting sites and to provide pollinating services for acu[ntilde]a 
cactus, as described in Physical or Biological Features for the 
Acu[ntilde]a cactus above.
    (3) We then drew critical habitat boundaries that captured the 
locations elucidated under (1) and (2) above. Critical habitat 
designations were then mapped using Albers Equal Area (Albers) North 
American Datum 83 (NAD 83) coordinates.
    We defined six units within the current distribution of the species 
in two general areas of south-central Arizona. Two of the subunits are 
not occupied at the time of listing; the remaining units and subunits 
contain approximately 2,730 individuals. Within these units and 
subunits, several geologic, topographic, elevation, slope, and 
vegetation community features have been defined which, in combination, 
create appropriate acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat that is essential to the 
conservation of the species, though not all lands containing this 
combination support the acu[ntilde]a cacti.
Areas Essential for the Conservation of Acu[ntilde]a Cactus Outside of 
Occupied Areas
    As discussed above in the five-factor analysis and ``Drought and 
Climate Change'' section, with reduced annual precipitation over the 
past 30 years, mature acu[ntilde]a cactus plants produce fewer flowers 
and seeds, and seedling establishment and survival does not offset 
mortality. Increased insect attack, possibly due to warmer winter 
temperatures throughout the region, in combination with water and heat 
stresses, have resulted in a documented mortality of more than 80 
percent of individuals within populations that have been visited more 
than once.
    Although the specific water needs of the species are unknown, 
acu[ntilde]a cactus seedlings require adequate precipitation for 
survival, and adults require precipitation for flowering and fruit set. 
To determine what amount of precipitation is adequate, we analyzed 
precipitation monitoring records from OPCNM. Through our analysis, we 
determined the acu[ntilde]a cactus flower production and recruitment 
peaked in 1992, when 902 flowers were produced (Holm 2006, p. 2-10) 
following a winter period with total precipitation of 29.7 cm (11.66 
in) (WRCC 2012, entire). Flower production reached measured lows in 
1999, 2002, and 2006 (NPS 2011a, p. 2), years when total winter 
precipitation ranged between 2.2 and 3.3 cm (0.85 and 1.3 in) (WRCC 
2012, entire). Similarly, recruitment peaked in the early 1990s (Holm 
2006, p. 2-6; NPS 2011a, p. 1), following a 1990 summer period with 
24.6 cm (9.7 in) of precipitation (WRCC 2012, entire). Therefore, based 
on our review of the best available information, we identify that areas 
that currently receive 29.7 cm (11.66 in) or higher total yearly 
precipitation are necessary for the acu[ntilde]a cactus reproduction 
and survival due to the continuing and impending region-wide drought.
    Following determination of critical habitat as outlined in the 
previous section, we then used an overlay of the areas containing 
appropriate geology, vegetation community, percent slope, and 
elevation, as defined in the physical and biological features, plus 
Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) 
climate data, to map areas that contain the correct geology, vegetation 
community, elevation range, and slope range, and that receive 29.7 cm 
(11.66 in) or more annual precipitation over a 30-year average (see the 
Physical or Biological Features for the Acu[ntilde]a catus above). The 
result was additional polygons representing suitable habitat which are 
not known to be occupied at the time of listing, but that contain 
appropriate habitat for the species, and are more northerly, higher in 
elevation, and receive higher mean annual precipitation than other 
acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat. It is generally recognized that as climate 
change progresses, species will move both north and upslope to adapt to 
hotter and dryer climate (Lesica and McCune 2004, p. 687). Our 
reasoning in defining these two additional areas as critical habitat is 
that they will provide the greatest probability of higher precipitation 
and cooler temperatures of the available acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat 
throughout south-central Arizona, and thus provide an avenue for 
natural expansion of the species' range (small mammals and birds likely 
disperse the red fruits) and for off-site conservation efforts 
(transplant populations). Areas that currently support the cactus will, 
hopefully, continue to support the cactus in the future; however, given 
the ongoing drought and the predictions for reduced precipitation 
throughout the region, we conclude that additional areas are essential 
to the conservation of the species.
    When determining proposed critical habitat boundaries, we made 
every effort to avoid including developed areas such as lands covered 
by buildings, pavement, and other structures because such lands lack 
physical or biological features for the acu[ntilde]a cactus. The scale 
of the maps we prepared under the parameters for publication within the 
Code of Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of such 
developed lands. Any such lands inadvertently left inside critical 
habitat boundaries shown on the maps of this proposed rule have been 
excluded by text in the proposed rule and are not proposed for 
designation as critical habitat. Therefore, if the critical habitat is 
finalized as proposed, a Federal action involving these lands would not 
trigger section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the 
requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would 
affect the physical or biological features in the adjacent critical 
habitat.

[[Page 60552]]

    The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as 
modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of 
this document in the rule portion. We include more detailed information 
on the boundaries of the critical habitat designation in the preamble 
of this document. We will make the coordinates or plot points or both 
on which each map is based available to the public on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0061, on our Internet 
sites http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/, and at the field office 
responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
above).

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for Acu[ntilde]a Cactus

    We are proposing six units as critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus. The critical habitat areas we describe below constitute our 
current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of critical 
habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus. The six units we propose as 
critical habitat are: (1) Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, (2) Ajo, 
(3) the Sauceda Mountains, (4) the Sand Tank Mountains, (5) Mineral 
Mountain, and (6) Box O Wash. Table 5 shows the occupied units.

   Table 5--Occupancy of the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus by Proposed Critical
                              Habitat Units
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Occupied at time of
                    Unit                               listing?
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Unit:
    Dripping Spring.........................  Yes.
    Acu[ntilde]a Valley.....................  Yes.
2. Ajo Unit:
    Townsites...............................  Yes.
    Little Ajo Mountains....................  Yes.
3. Sauceda Mountains Unit:
    Coffeepot Mountain......................  Yes.
    Cimarron Mountain.......................  No.
4. Sand Tank Mountains Unit:
    Javelina Mountain.......................  Yes.
    Sand Tank Mountain......................  No.
5. Mineral Mountain Unit....................  Yes.
6. Box O Wash Unit..........................  Yes.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The approximate area of each proposed critical habitat unit is 
shown in Table 6.

                                          Table 6--Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Federal             State              Tribal            Private             Total
               Unit                        Subunit        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Organ Pipe Cactus National       Dripping Spring......      1,591 (3,931)                  0                  0                  0      1,591 (3,931)
 Monument.
                                    Acu[ntilde]a Valley..      2,416 (5,971)                  0                  0                  0      2,416 (5,971)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total....................  .....................      4,007 (9,902)                  0                  0                  0      4,007 (9,902)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. Ajo............................  Townsites............           89 (220)                  0                  0          330 (815)        419 (1,035)
                                    Little Ajo Mountains.          106 (263)                  0                  0          141 (347)          247 (610)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total....................  .....................          195 (483)                  0                  0        470 (1,162)        666 (1,645)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. Sauceda Mountains..............  Coffeepot Mountain...      1,481 (3,659)                  0          156 (385)                  0      1,637 (4,044)
                                    Cimarron Mountain....                  0                  0      2,100 (5,190)                  0      2,100 (5,190)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total....................  .....................      1,481 (3,659)                  0      2,256 (5,575)                  0      3,737 (9,234)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4. Sand Tank Mountains............  Javelina Mountain....        911 (2,251)                  0                  0                  0        911 (2,251)
                                    Sand Tank Mountain...      3,107 (7,677)                  0                  0                  0      3,107 (7,677)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total....................  .....................      4,018 (9,928)                  0                  0                  0      4,018 (9,928)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5. Mineral Mountain...............  .....................        874 (2,160)          217 (537)                  0                  0      1,092 (2,697)
6. Box O Wash.....................  .....................      1,378 (3,404)     5,556 (13,729)                  0      1,287 (3,180)     8,221 (20,314)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Grand Total...................  .....................    11,953 (29,536)     5,773 (14,266)      2,256 (5,575)      1,757 (4,342)    21,740 (53,720)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.

    We present brief descriptions of all units, and reasons why they 
meet the definition of critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus, 
below.
Unit 1: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
    Unit 1 is located within OPCNM, in southwestern Pima County, 
Arizona. The unit consists of two subunits totaling 4,007 ha (9,902 
ac), of which all is federally owned land. The Federal land is 
administered by the NPS.
    Unit 1a: Acu[ntilde]a Valley--Unit 1a consists of 2,416 ha (5,971 
ac) in central OPCNM. Lands within this subunit are occupied at the 
time of listing with the largest known population of the acu[ntilde]a

[[Page 60553]]

cactus, approximately 2,000 individuals. This subunit contains all of 
the primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    Unit 1b: Dripping Spring--Unit 1b consists of 1,591 ha (3,931ac) in 
southern OPCNM. An acu[ntilde]a cactus herbarium specimen was collected 
from within this unit in 1952. A general location was recorded on this 
specimen, and from this information, a GIS map was created by the AGFD. 
Because OPCNM personnel were not aware that an acu[ntilde]a cactus had 
been collected in this area, they did not revisit the area to survey 
for the species and are not able to survey now due to security issues 
along the border. We believe there is a possibility this population 
remains extant because: (1) We know of no other acu[ntilde]a cactus 
population that has been extirpated. This unit is in the center between 
the two largest known populations, which are located in the United 
States and Mexico. There have been no natural, environmental changes 
from climate change, drought, or insect predation that have caused an 
acu[ntilde]a cactus population in the two largest known populations to 
be extirpated. Because this unit is centered between the two largest 
known populations, we have no evidence to indicate that climate change, 
drought, or insect predation have extirpated this population. (2) 
Episodic recruitment events during years of higher than average 
precipitation may have occurred in this population since the time of 
its discovery. The acu[ntilde]a cactus may not have been reproducing 
offspring in periods of drought years, but there have been periods 
since 1952 there was enough precipitation that would have resulted in 
higher than average reproduction. In his 3-year study of the 
reproductive ecology of the acu[ntilde]a cactus in Unit 1a, Johnson 
(1992, pp. 403, 405) concluded that the positive association of 
rainfall and annual variation in the number of flowers produced 
indicates that water availability limits flower production in this 
species. Within monitoring plots established by Buskirk in 1977 
(Buskirk 1981, p. 1), total flowers counted peaked at 902 in 1992 (Holm 
2006, p. 10); corresponding precipitation during the winter of 1992-
1993 was 29.7 cm (11.66 in) (WRCC 2012, entire). Even though cacti in 
this unit were not monitored, it is likely that recruitment events 
during years of higher than average precipitation may have occurred in 
this population. (3) This species appears to be fairly long-lived. The 
OPCNM has been monitoring individuals for 35 years in Unit 1a, and it 
is likely that individuals have a life span that is much longer. Even 
though this plant has not been looked for in this unit since 1952, it 
is likely that some individuals, or their offspring, that were alive in 
1952 remain in this unit today. (4) Even though illegal border 
activities may have potentially caused damage to the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus and its habitat in this unit, we have no evidence to indicate 
that these activities have occurred at such a level the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus population in this unit has been extirpated. Therefore, for the 
reasons stated above, we consider this subunit occupied at the time of 
listing. This subunit contains all of the primary constituent elements 
of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    Grazing and mining are not permitted within OPCNM; however, off-
road border-related activities do occur in OPCNM. Special management 
considerations or protections may be required within each subunit to 
address off-road border-related human disturbances, invasive plant 
removal, and insect predation in acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.
Unit 2: Ajo
    Unit 2 is located in and near the town of Ajo in southwestern Pima 
County, Arizona. The unit consists of two subunits totaling 666 ha 
(1,645 ac). This unit contains 195 ha (483 ac) of federally owned land 
and 470 ha (1,162 ac) of private land. The Federal land is administered 
by the BLM.
    Subunit 2a: Townsites--Subunit 2a consists of 330 ha (815 ac) of 
private land and 89 ha (220 ac) of BLM land in and around the town of 
Ajo, Arizona. This subunit is comprised of three separate populations 
of the acu[ntilde]a cactus on private and BLM lands, which are close 
enough in proximity to be combined within the 900 m (2,953 ft) radius 
defined for pollinators. Lands within this subunit are occupied at the 
time of listing; the combined number of plants occurring within this 
subunit is 33. This subunit contains all of the primary constituent 
elements of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    Subunit 2b: Little Ajo Mountains--Subunit 2b consists of 106 ha 
(263 ac) of BLM lands and 141 ha (347 ac) of private lands south of the 
town of Ajo, Arizona. Lands within this subunit are occupied at the 
time of listing, containing seven individual plants. This subunit 
contains all of the primary constituent elements of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species within 
both subunits are threatened by mining, urban development, off-road 
border activities, and exotic plant invasion. Special management 
considerations or protections may be required within the subunits to 
minimize habitat fragmentation; to minimize disturbance to acu[ntilde]a 
cactus individuals, soil, and associated native vegetation; and to 
prevent or remove invasive, exotic plants within the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus habitat.
Unit 3: Sauceda Mountains
    Unit 3 is located in the Sauceda Mountains of northwestern Pima and 
southwestern Maricopa Counties, Arizona. This unit consists of two 
subunits totaling 3,737 ha (9,234 ac). This unit contains 1,481 ha 
(3,659 ac) of federally owned land and 2,256 ha (5,575 ac) of Tribally 
owned land. The Federal land is administered by the BLM and BMGR; the 
Tribal land is administered by the Tohono O'odham Nation. We will 
coordinate with the Tribe and examine what conservation actions, 
management plans, and commitments and assurances for the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus occur on these lands for potential exclusion from the final 
designation of critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    Subunit 3a: Coffeepot Mountain--Subunit 3a consists of 1,637 ha 
(4,044 ac) in the Sauceda Mountains of northwestern Pima and 
southwestern Maricopa Counties, on and near Coffeepot Mountain. This 
subunit is comprised of four separate populations on lands administered 
by the BLM (1,102 ha (2,724 ac)), the BMGR (378 ha (935 ac)), and the 
Tohono O'odham Nation (156 ha (385 ac)), which are close enough in 
proximity as to be combined within the 900 m (2,953 ft) radius defined 
for pollinators. Lands within this subunit are occupied at the time of 
listing; the combined number of plants occurring within this subunit is 
445. This subunit contains all of the primary constituent elements of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species within 
subunit 3a are threatened by mining, grazing, and off-road border 
activities. Special management considerations or protections may be 
required within the unit to minimize habitat fragmentation; to minimize 
disturbance to individual acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals, soil, and 
associated native vegetation; and to prevent or remove invasive, exotic 
plants within acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.
    Subunit 3b: Cimarron Mountain--Subunit 3b consists of 2,100 ha 
(5,190

[[Page 60554]]

ac) of potential acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat all on land owned by the 
Tohono O'odham Nation. This unit has not been surveyed for the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus, and no acu[ntilde]a cacti are known to occur here 
at the time of listing. Modeling demonstrated that this subunit 
contains suitable habitat for the species. In addition, the area 
receives higher mean annual precipitation (greater than 29.7 cm/year 
(3.82 in/year)), a factor found to be essential for the conservation of 
the species (see the Acu[ntilde]a Cactus Physical or Biological 
Features section above). Therefore, this subunit provides space for the 
growth and expansion of the species, particularly in the face of 
ongoing drought and climate change model predictions, and is essential 
for the conservation of the species.
Unit 4: Sand Tank Mountains
    Unit 4 is located in the Sand Tank Mountains of southwestern 
Maricopa County, Arizona. This unit consists of two subunits totaling 
4,018 ha (9,928 ac), all of which is federally owned land. The Federal 
land is administered by the BLM and BMGR.
    Subunit 4a: Javelina Mountain--Subunit 4a consists of 911 ha (2,251 
ac) of land within the Sonoran Desert National Monument administered by 
the BLM. This subunit contains three separate populations totaling 200 
individuals. This subunit contains all of the primary constituent 
elements of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    Grazing and mining are not permitted within the Sonoran Desert 
National Monument and the BMGR; however, off-road border-related 
activities and trespass livestock grazing may occur in Subunit 4a. 
Special management considerations or protections may be required within 
Subunit 4a to address increased off-road border-related human 
disturbances; to minimize disturbance to acu[ntilde]a cactus 
individuals, the soil, and associated native vegetation; and to prevent 
or remove invasive, exotic plants within acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.
    Subunit 4b: Sand Tank Mountain--Subunit 4b consists of 3,107 ha 
(7,677 ac) of potential acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat within the Sonoran 
Desert National Monument (140 ha (347 ac)) and the BMGR (2,967 ha 
(7,331 ac)). This unit has not been surveyed for the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus, and no acu[ntilde]a cacti are known to occur there at the time 
of listing. Modeling demonstrated that this subunit contains suitable 
habitat for the species. The area also receives higher mean annual 
precipitation (greater than 29.7 cm/year (11.69 in/year)), a factor 
found to be necessary for the conservation of the species. Therefore, 
this subunit is essential for the conservation of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus because it provides space for the growth and expansion of the 
species, especially in the face of ongoing drought and climate change 
model predictions.
Unit 5: Mineral Mountain
    Unit 5 consists of 1,092 ha (2,697 ac) on Mineral Mountain of 
north-central Pinal County, Arizona. This unit contains 874 ha (2,160 
ac) of federally owned land and 217 ha (537 ac) of State-owned land. 
The Federal land is administered by the BLM (873 ha (2,158 ac)) and the 
Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) (1 ha (2 ac)).
    This unit contains five separate known populations totaling at 
least 30 individuals on lands administered by the BLM and the State of 
Arizona. This unit contains all of the primary constituent elements of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    Livestock grazing and ORV activity occur on this unit, and mining 
occurs nearby. Special management considerations or protections may be 
required within the unit to minimize habitat fragmentation; to minimize 
disturbance to acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals, soil, and associated 
native vegetation; and to prevent or remove invasive, exotic plants 
within acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.
Unit 6: Box O Wash
    Unit 6 consists of 8,221 ha (20,314 ac) near Box O Wash of north-
central Pinal County, Arizona. This unit contains 1,378 ha (3,404 ac) 
of federally owned land, 5,556 ha (13,729 ac) of State-owned land, and 
1,287 ha (3,180 ac) of privately owned land. The Federal land is 
administered by the BLM (1,058 ha (2,615 ac)) and BOR (320 ha (790 
ac)).
    This unit contains three separate populations totaling at least 11 
individuals. This unit contains all of the primary constituent elements 
of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    Livestock grazing and ORV activity occur on this unit, and mining 
occurs nearby. Special management considerations or protections may be 
required within the unit to minimize habitat fragmentation; to minimize 
disturbance to acu[ntilde]a cactus individuals, soil, and associated 
native vegetation; and to prevent or remove invasive, exotic plants 
within acu[ntilde]a cactus habitat.

Fickeisen Plains Cactus

Physical or Biological Features

    We derive the specific physical or biological features required for 
the Fickeisen plains cactus from studies of the species' habitat, 
ecology, and life history as described below. We have determined that 
the Fickeisen plains cactus requires the following physical and 
biological features:
Space for Individual and Population Growth, and for Normal Behavior and 
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals or Other Nutritional or Physiological 
Requirements
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is a narrow endemic with a limited 
distribution in northern Arizona on the Colorado Plateau. Within its 
range, the Fickeisen plains cactus requires the appropriate soils, 
associated geologic formations, slope, drainage, and plant community 
within the landscape to provide space for individual growth and 
population growth and to provide food, water, air, light, minerals or 
other nutritional or physiological requirements. The Fickeisen plains 
cactus is found on soils formed from alluvium, colluvium, or Aeolian 
deposits derived from limestone of the Harrisburg member of the Kaibab 
Formation and Toroweap Formation, underlain with Coconino Sandstone, 
and sandstone and mudstone of the Moenkopi Formation (Billingsley et 
al. 2001, entire; AZGS 2011). Several occurrences are located on or in 
close proximity to active or quaternary faults.

 Table 7--Soil Class Associated With the Fickeisen Plains Cactus Habitat
------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Soil class associations                   Percent slope
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Strych very gravelly loam........  2-10 percent slope.
Mellenthin-Rock outcrop-           10-70 percent slope
 Torriorthents complex.
Mellenthin-Tanbark complex.......  5-50 percent slope.
Moenkopie-Goblin complex.........  5-50 percent slope.
Dutchman-McCullan complex........  1-10 percent slope.
Twist sandy loam.................  2-10 percent slope.

[[Page 60555]]

 
Mellenthin very gravelly loam....  1-25 percent slope.
Saido-Brinkerhoff complex........  1-5 percent slope.
Kinan gravelly loam..............  1-15 percent slope.
Mellenthin-Progresso complex.....  1-7 percent slope.
Kinan-Pennell complex............  4-15 percent slope.
Pennell cobbly loam..............  3-10 percent slope.
Pennell gravelly sandy loam......  20-45 percent slope.
Monierco clay loam...............  2-15 percent slope.
Monue-Seeg complex...............  1-6 percent slope.
Hajisho-Cataract family-Shinume    4-15 percent slope.
 complex.
Hajisho-Seeg complex.............  2-15 percent slope.
Salten-Meriwhitica-Wayneco-Tassi   5-30 percent slope.
 family, complex.
Winona gravelly loam.............  0-8 percent slope.
Winon stony loam.................  0-8 percent slope.
Winon-Boysag gravelly loam.......  0-8 percent slope.
Winona-Rock outcrop..............  15-30 percent and 30-70 percent
                                    slope.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Fickeisen plains cactus is affiliated with several soil series 
across its range (Table 7). The Fickeisen plains cactus is found on 
nonsaline to slightly saline soils that are shallow to moderately deep; 
well-drained; and consisting of gravelly loam, fine sandy loam, 
gravelly sandy loam, clay loam, and cobbly loam (NRCS 2012), with a 
soil pH between 7.9 to 8.4 (NatureServe 2011; NRCS 2012). The fine 
textured and very loose soil texture may enable the plant to be 
completely buried once retracted (NNHP 1994, p. 3), thereby protecting 
the apex from exposure to low temperatures during the winter season. 
The Fickeisen plains cactus is found at elevations from 1,310 to 1,813 
m (4,200 to 5,950 ft). These elevations support between 15.25 and 35.56 
cm (6 to 14 in) of annual rainfall, although precipitation patterns and 
monthly amounts are highly variable within the range of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus. Plants are found growing on mesa tops or plateaus and 
depositional areas consisting of flat terraces and benches, along the 
margins of canyon rims or on the toe of well-drained hills. Individuals 
are found on the western, southwestern, and southern-facing exposures 
with slopes of 0 to 20 percent (Arizona Rare Plant Committee 2001, 
unpaginated; AGFD 2011a, p. 2), although most plants are observed on 
slopes less than 10 percent.
    The Fickeisen plains cactus occurs within the Plains and Great 
Basin grasslands and Great Basin desert scrub vegetation communities 
(Benson 1982, p. 764; NatureServe 2011). Dominate native plant species 
that are commonly associated with these biotic communities include: 
Artemisia tridentata (sagebrush), Atriplex canescens (four-wing 
saltbush), Atriplex confertifolia (shadscale), Bouteloua eriopoda 
(black grama), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), Bromus spp. (brome), 
Chrysothamnus spp. (rabbit-bush), Ephedra torreyana (Mormon tea), 
Eurotia lanata (winterfat), Gutierrezia sarothrae (broom snakeweed), 
Pleuraphis jamesii (James's galleta), Oryzopsis hymenoides (Indian 
ricegrass), Sphaeralcea spp. (globe-mallow), and Stipa spp. 
(needlegrass). Other native cactus species that are commonly found 
include Agave utahensis (century plants), Echinocactus polycephalus 
spp. and Escobaria vivipara var. rosea (foxtail cactus) (Brown 1994, 
pp. 115-121; Turner 1994, pp. 145-155; Hughes 1996b, p. 2; Goodwin 
2011a, p. 4; NatureServe 2011).
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is found growing in open, sparsely 
vegetated areas in full sun but also in areas of dense grass cover. 
Seedlings and adult Fickeisen plains cacti observed growing underneath 
a shrub canopy or from clumps of grama grass appeared to be larger and 
fuller than those in open areas. Some type and amount of canopy cover 
may create suitable microhabitat conditions that enhance Fickeisen 
plains cactus' survival by providing protection from the sun and wind, 
and by decreasing the rate of evapotranspiration (Milne 1987, p. 34). 
In order for the Fickeisen plains cactus to produce flower and set seed 
in the spring, adequate soil moisture during the winter is necessary 
(Brack 2012, pers. comm.). The general soil moisture recharge period 
across its range is from December to March (Travis 1987, p. 3), when 
temperatures and soil evaporation are low. Accumulated soil moisture is 
usually depleted by the summer months in which the Fickeisen plains 
cactus will retract underground but may emerge following summer monsoon 
thunderstorms. Therefore, based on the information presented above, we 
identify limestone soils derived from the appropriate formations; 
gravelly, shallow, and well-drained soils; the appropriate elevation 
range; and adequate precipitation to be essential physical or 
biological features for this species.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, Rearing, Germination, Seed Dispersal 
or Pollination
    The Fickeisen plains cactus does not require areas for breeding or 
reproduction other than the areas they occupy and any area necessary 
for pollinators and seed dispersal (refer to Pollination and Pollen 
Dispersal section in Acu[ntilde]a Cactus above). Reproduction sites 
accommodate all life-history phases of the Fickeisen plains cactus. 
Like other native plants within the Colorado Plateau region, adequate 
precipitation and low temperatures during the winter season, which 
reduce evaporation, favor seedling germination (Comstock and Ehleringer 
1992, pp. 196-199).
    The Fickeisen plains cactus is found in areas of sparse vegetation 
and in tall, dense grass. Seeds of the Fickeisen plains cactus would 
likely require certain soil conditions to germinate, such as adequate 
amounts of soil moisture and nutrients, and temperatures conducive to 
germination, but we do not have any information regarding those 
specific requirements. Seed production in the Fickeisen plains cactus 
is considered to be low (Hughes 2011, pers. comm.), and most species of 
Pediocactus have poor seed dispersal mechanisms (Benson 1982, p. 750). 
Seedlings are often observed near the parent plant (Goodwin 2011a, p. 
9) and do better when shade is provided by a

[[Page 60556]]

parent or nurse rock (Nobel 1984, p. 316; Milne 1987, p. 34). The 
Fickeisen plains cactus relies solely on the production of seed for 
reproduction (Pimienta-Barrios and del Castillo 2002, p. 79). Optimal 
seed set occurs through visitation and pollination by native bees.
    Pollinators observed visiting flowers of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus include hover flies (family Syrphidae), bee flies (family 
Bombyliidae), mining bees (family Andrenidae), and sweat bees (family 
Halictidae) (Milne 1987, p. 21; NNHP 1994, p. 3). However, the primary 
pollinators for the Fickeisen plains cactus are believed to be halictid 
bees from the genera Lasioglossum, Halictus, and Agapostemon, based on 
several studied species of Pediocactus (Tepedino 2012, pers. comm.). 
Additionally, although flies may pollinate flowers of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus when they eat pollen or nectar, bees are considered to be 
the essential pollinators for native plants and likely for the 
Fickeisen plains cactus. Foraging distances vary by species and body 
size (Greenleaf et al. 2007, p. 592), but the typical flight distances 
of halictid bees in the genera Lasioglossum are 10 to 410 m (33 to 
1,345 ft). The foraging distance for the largest bodied bee in the 
genera Agapostemon is approximately 1,000 m (3,280 ft) (Tepedino 2012, 
pers. comm.).
    For the Fickeisen plains cactus, because of its endemism, small 
population size, and disjunct occurrence, maintaining genetic diversity 
is essential for its persistence (Tepedino et al. 1996, p. 245). In 
general, maintaining adequate populations of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus' primary pollinators, which likely depends on the presence and 
diversity of other native plant species in sufficient numbers within, 
near, and between populations (``stepping stones''), is essential to 
facilitate gene flow (NatureServe 2011). Therefore, maintaining areas 
with a high diversity of native plant species is necessary to sustain 
populations of native pollinators (Peach et al. 1993, p. 314). Low 
numbers of abundant flowers offering little reward can lead to low 
rates of plants visited by pollinators (Wilcox and Neiland 2002, pp. 
272-273). The Fickeisen plains cactus relies solely on the production 
of seeds for reproduction, with pollination highly linked to their 
survival. A lack of pollinators would gradually decrease the number of 
seeds in the seed bank and the conservation potential for the Fickeisen 
plains cactus (Wilcock and Neiland 2002, p. 276). Therefore, based on 
the information above, we identify a pollination area-with a radius of 
1,000 m (3,280 ft) around each reproducing Fickeisen plains cactus and 
containing native vegetation as a physical or biological feature of 
Fickeisen plains cactus habitat.
Habitats That are Protected From Disturbance or Representative of the 
Historical, Geographical, and Ecological Distribution of the Species
    The Fickeisen plains cactus has a restricted geographical 
distribution. Endemic species whose populations exhibit a high degree 
of isolation are extremely susceptible to extinction from random and 
non-random, catastrophic, natural or human-caused events. Therefore, 
the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus is dependent on several 
factors, including but not limited to: (1) Maintenance of areas of 
sufficient size and configuration to sustain natural ecosystem 
components, functions, and processes (such as sun exposure, native 
shrubs or grasses that provide microhabitats for seedlings, natural 
fire and hydrologic regimes, preservation of biological soil crusts 
that support the surrounding vegetation community, and adequate biotic 
balance to prevent excessive herbivory); (2) protection of the existing 
substrate continuity and structure; (3) connectivity among clusters of 
plants within geographic proximity to facilitate gene flow among these 
sites through pollination activity and seed dispersal; and (4) 
sufficient adjacent suitable habitat for reproduction and population 
expansion.
    A natural, generally intact surface and subsurface that is free of 
inappropriate disturbance associated with land use activities (such as 
trampling and soil compaction from livestock grazing) and associated 
physical processes such as the hydrologic regime are necessary to 
provide water, minerals, and other physiological needs for the 
Fickeisen plains cactus. A natural intact surface and subsurface 
includes the preservation of soil qualities (texture, slope, rooting 
depth) to enable the seasonal ability of plants to retract below the 
subsurface to enter dormancy but emerge when conditions are favorable. 
A natural hydrologic regime includes the seasonal retention of soil 
moisture followed by the drying out of the substrate to promote growth 
of plants for the following season. These processes enable populations 
to develop and maintain seed banks, and to provide for success seedling 
survival, adult growth, and expansion of populations. The Fickeisen 
plains cactus must sustain and expand in number if ecological 
representation of this species is to be ensured. Therefore, based on 
the information above, we identify natural, generally intact surface 
and subsurface that preserves the physical processes, such as soil 
quality and the natural hydrology of a natural vegetation community, to 
be physical or biological features for this species.

Primary Constituent Elements for the Fickeisen Plains Cactus

    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the primary constituent 
elements specific to the Fickeisen plains cactus are:
    (i) Soils in northern Arizona on the Colorado Plateau that are:
    a. Formed from alluvium, colluvium, or Aeolian deposits;
    b. Derived from limestone of the Harrisburg member of the Kaibab 
Formation and Toroweap Formation;
    c. Underlain with Coconino Sandstone, and sandstone and mudstone of 
the Moenkopi Formation;
    d. At an elevation of 1,310 to 1,813 m (4,200 to 5,950 ft);
    e. Are gravelly-loam, fine-textured, well drained, and shallow;
    f. On terraces, benches, tops of mesas and plateaus, toe-slope of 
hills with a 0 to 20 percent slope;
    g. Supportive of biological soil crusts;
    h. Within the Plains and Great Basin grassland and Great Basin 
desert scrub vegetation communities;
    (ii) Native vegetation in areas that have natural, generally intact 
surface and subsurface features that provide habitat and suitable 
nesting substrate for the cactus' pollinators and space for seed 
dispersal and germination; and
    (iii) Provide for pollinator habitat with a radius of 1,000 m 
(3,280 ft) around each individual, reproducing Fickeisen plains cactus.

Special Management Considerations or Protection

    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing contain features which are essential to the conservation of 
the species and which may require special management considerations or 
protection. The features essential to the conservation of this species 
may require special management considerations or protection to reduce 
the following threats: (1) Livestock grazing; (2) nonnative, invasive 
plant species; (3) rodent and rabbit predation; and (4) long-term 
drought. Special management considerations or protection are required 
within critical habitat areas to

[[Page 60557]]

address these threats. Management activities that could ameliorate 
these threats include (but are not limited to) improving habitats and 
potentially increasing plant population numbers on lands the BLM, 
Forest Service, or the State currently holds or may hold in the future. 
Special management to protect the features essential to the 
conservation of the species include conservation measures and actions 
to minimize effects of livestock grazing; control nonnative, invasive 
plants; reduce rodent and rabbit predation, and manage activities in 
response to drought conditions on these lands. These management 
activities will protect the features essential to the conservation of 
the species by maintaining native vegetation communities, preserving 
soil characteristics, and providing habitat for the Fickeisen plains 
cactus and its pollinators.

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific data available to designate critical habitat. We review 
available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the 
species. In accordance with the Act and its implementing regulation at 
50 CFR 424.12(e), we consider whether designating additional areas--
outside those currently occupied as well as those occupied at the time 
of listing--are necessary to ensure the conservation of the species. We 
have determined that all areas we are proposing to designate as 
critical habitat are within the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time of listing (see the ``Abundance and Trends'' 
section, above, for more information).
    Based on the best available information, we conclude that the nine 
proposed units are occupied by the Fickeisen plains cactus. We 
acknowledge that several of the populations have not been visited for 
many years, but our rationale for including them within occupied units 
is described below.
    The Salaratus Draw (which includes Salaratus Draw I and Salaratus 
Draw II) and Toquer Tank sites were within the BLM's ``seldom'' 
monitored cluster plots and contain a few, widely spaced individuals. 
These cluster plots were for the purpose of tracking presence or 
absence and not intended to be intensively searched or to establish a 
population estimate. They were originally created to be visited every 5 
to 10 years in which, the Toquer Tank plot was last visited in 1994 and 
the Salaratus Draw plots in 2001. We have very little information about 
the Fickeisen plains cactus in the Toquer Tank plot. A fair number of 
plants were documented there for several consecutive years and the site 
was occupied in 1994. When the Salaratus Draw plots were last visited 
in 2001, the sites were reported to be dry. Climate data for 2001 
recorded below-average precipitation, and the region was experiencing a 
prolonged drought. Given that the Fickeisen plains cactus can be 
difficult to locate, particularly when plants are not flowering, it is 
likely that they were retracted below ground and missed during the 
count. In addition, plants may remain underground for several years in 
a row, as has been documented in the plots that are regularly monitored 
by the BLM. Even plants that have their crown exposed just above the 
soil surface can be difficult to locate. When conditions are ideal 
(adequate precipitation), plants will emerge above ground and are 
easier to detect. Additionally, BLM documented one instance when the 
Sunshine Ridge population had declined to zero plants in 2000, but 
three of the tagged plants were detected the following year. This 
provides basis for our assumption that the Salaratus Draw and Toquer 
Tank may still be occupied as of 2012.
    Furthermore, the Fickeisen plains cactus was documented at six 
sites that have never been monitored and have not been visited in over 
18 years. These unmonitored sites (Beanhole Well, Marble Canyon, South 
Canyon, Tiger Wash1, Tiger Wash 2, and Shinumo Wash) are within 6 km (4 
mi) of the monitored sites in House Rock Valley where the Fickeisen 
plains cactus has been documented within the last 6 years. Livestock 
grazing has been reported in the area of the South Canyon site, but 
there is no evidence that the grazing resulted in the Fickeisen plains 
cactus being removed from the population. Similarly, there have been no 
large-scale, surface-disturbing activities occurring in proximity to 
the monitored or unmonitored areas that would lead us to believe that 
the Fickeisen plains cactus is no longer viable at the sites. Also, the 
life span of the Fickeisen plains cactus is estimated to be between 10 
to 15 years (Phillips et al. 1982, p. 9). Because these six unmonitored 
sites are within close proximity to the monitored sites that contain 
the Fickeisen plains cactus, the environmental conditions have not been 
severe enough to extirpate the cactus from nearby monitored sites, 
impacts to the habitat from livestock grazing have not removed plants 
from the monitored populations, and the cactus has a lifespan of 10 to 
15 years, we believe that the six unmonitored subunits are still 
occupied by the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    To further our assumption that unsurveyed areas may still be 
occupied, the Fickeisen plains cactus exhibits episodic recruitment 
when climatic conditions are ideal. Based on BLM's monitoring 
information, a few small plants do emerge, perhaps not each year, but 
at least every 2 to 4 years. Information that describes the habitat of 
these sites is very limited. Livestock grazing is the primary surface-
disturbing activity. Based on our evaluation of grazing for the regular 
monitored plots, we anticipate that the habitat has been degraded and 
impacted by other identified threats to the plant. We also acknowledge 
that these small populations are being affected by drought and climate 
change, and when coupled with surface disturbance, this likely results 
in increased mortality. But based on the best available information, 
there is no indication that leads us to believe that the Fickeisen 
plains cactus is no longer viable at the unsurveyed sites.
    We considered areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
Fickeisen plains cactus at the time of listing, but we are not 
proposing to designate any areas outside the geographical area occupied 
by the Fickeisen plains cactus. In our review, the Fickeisen plains 
cactus occurs across a broad range with different topography, large 
elevational gradients, and vegetation communities (Grahame and Sisk 
2002, entire; USGS 2002, entire). Due to the vastness and diversity of 
the range, there are areas within its geographical range that provides 
for in-situ conservation if needed in the future. Therefore, we 
determined that a subset of occupied lands within the species' current 
range is adequate to ensure the conservation of the Fickeisen plains 
cactus.
    We reviewed available information and supporting data that pertains 
to the habitat requirements of the Fickeisen plains cactus. This 
information included research published in peer-reviewed articles, soil 
surveys, agency reports, special land assessments, and data collected 
from long-term monitoring plots, interviews with experts, and regional 
climate data and GIS coverage. Sources of information include, but are 
not limited to: AGFD 2011b, AZGS 2011, Billingsley 2000, Billingsley 
and Dyer 2003, BLM 2007a, Calico 2012, Goodwin 2011a, Hazelton 2012a, 
Milne 1987, NNHP 2011a, NRCS 2012, Phillips et al. 1982, Travis 1987, 
and WRCC 2012. Based on this

[[Page 60558]]

information, we developed a strategy for determining which areas meet 
the definition of critical habitat for the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    In identifying proposed critical habitat units for the Fickeisen 
plains cactus, we proceeded through a multi-step process. We obtained 
all records for the distribution of the Fickeisen plains cactus from 
AGFD, as well as both published and unpublished documentation from our 
files. Recent survey results confirm that plant distribution is similar 
to known distributions with the exception that additional populations 
have been found following survey efforts.
    Our approach to delineating critical habitat units was applied in 
the following manner:
    (1) We overlaid locations of the Fickeisen plains cactus into a GIS 
database. This provided us with the ability to examine slope, 
elevation, geologic type, vegetation community, and topographic 
features. These data points verified and slightly expanded the 
previously recorded elevation ranges for the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    (2) In addition to the GIS layers listed above, we then included a 
1,000 m (3,280 ft) pollination area around known populations to 
encompass native vegetation surrounding individual Fickeisen plains 
cacti, as described in Primary Constituent Elements for the Fickeisen 
Plains Cactus, above.
    (3) We then drew critical habitat boundaries that captured the 
locations elucidated under (1) and (2) above. Critical habitat 
designations were then mapped using Albers Equal Area (Albers) North 
American Datum 83 (NAD 83) coordinates.
Occupied Area at the Time of Listing
    Areas where plants are or have been documented within the species' 
described range were considered to be occupied at the time of listing. 
The known range of the Fickeisen plains cactus is from Mainstreet 
Valley and Hurricane Valley in Mohave County to House Rock Valley in 
Coconino County on the Arizona Strip; along the canyon rims of the 
Colorado River and Little Colorado River, to the area of Gray Mountain; 
and along the rims of Cataract Canyon on the Coconino Plateau.
    Occupied occurrences of the Fickeisen plains cactus located in 
close proximity were grouped into one unit (e.g., Hurricane Cliffs). 
Areas where plants are distributed over a large distance (e.g., 
Cataract Ranch) were also categorized into one unit. All of the units 
contained all of the identified elements of physical or biological 
features and supported multiple life-history processes.
    The critical habitat designation is defined by the map or maps, as 
modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the end of 
this document in the rule portion. We include more detailed information 
on the boundaries of the critical habitat designation in the preamble 
of this document. We will make the coordinates or plot points or both 
on which each map is based available to the public on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0061, on our Internet 
sites http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/, and at the field office 
responsible for the designation (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
above).

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for the Fickeisen Plains Cactus

    We are proposing nine units as critical habitat for the Fickeisen 
plains cactus. The critical habitat areas we describe below constitute 
our current best assessment of areas that meet the definition of 
critical habitat for the Fickeisen plains cactus. The nine areas we 
propose as critical habitat are: (1) Hurricane Cliffs; (2) Sunshine 
Ridge; (3) Clayhole Valley; (4) Snake Gulch; (5) House Rock Valley; (6) 
Tiger Wash; (7) Little Colorado River Overlook; (8) Gray Mountain; and 
(9) Cataract Canyon. All of the nine critical habitat units are 
occupied by the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    The approximate area of each proposed critical habitat unit is 
shown in Table 8.

                                        Table 8--Proposed Critical Habitat Units for the Fickeisen Plains Cactus
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Federal             State              Tribal            Private             Total
                 Unit                        Subunit      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)            Ha (Ac)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Hurricane Cliffs...................      Dutchman Draw      1,525 (3,769)                  0                  0              2 (5)      1,527 (3,774)
                                           Salaratus Draw        445 (1,098)          266 (658)                  0            13 (33)        724 (1,789)
                                             Temple Trail        443 (1,096)                  0                  0                  0        443 (1,096)
                                              Toquer Tank          350 (865)                  0                  0                  0          350 (865)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total........................  .................      2,763 (6,828)          266 (658)                  0            15 (38)      3,044 (7,524)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. Sunshine Ridge.....................     Sunshine Ridge        612 (1,512)          142 (351)                  0                  0        754 (1,863)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. Clayhole Valley....................     Clayhole Ridge          338 (836)           76 (188)                  0                  0        414 (1,024)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4. Snake Gulch........................        Snake Gulch        945 (2,335)                  0                  0                  0        945 (2,335)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5. House Rock Valley..................      Beanhole Well        745 (1,841)          126 (312)                  0                  0        871 (2,153)
                                        North Canyon Wash        472 (1,166)                  0                  0                  0        472 (1,166)
                                            Marble Canyon          214 (528)                  0                  0                  0          214 (528)
                                             South Canyon          336 (831)                  0                  0                  0          336 (831)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total........................  .................      1,767 (4,366)          126 (312)                  0                  0      1,893 (4,678)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6. Tiger Wash.........................       Tiger Wash 1                  0                  0          380 (940)                  0          380 (940)
                                             Tiger Wash 2                  0                  0      1,497 (3,700)                  0      1,497 (3,700)
                                             Shinumo Wash                  0                  0          380 (940)                  0          380 (940)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total........................  .................                  0                  0      2,257 (5,580)                  0      2,257 (5,580)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 60559]]

 
7. Little Colorado River (LCR)               LCR Overlook                  0                  0      1,170 (2,891)                  0      1,170 (2,891)
 Overlook.............................
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
8. Gray Mountain......................          Mays Wash          246 (609)           80 (198)                0 0          371 (917)        697 (1,724)
                                            Gray Mountain                  0             7 (17)        438 (1,083)        514 (1,271)        960 (2,371)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unit Total........................  .................          246 (609)           87 (215)        438 (1,083)        885 (2,188)      1,656 (4,095)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
9. Cataract Canyon....................    Cataract Canyon                  0     4,920 (12,159)                0 0      2,848 (7,037)     7,768 (19,196)
                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Grand Total.......................  .................     6,671 (16,486)     5,617 (13,883)      3,865 (9,554)      3,748 (9,263)    19,901 (49,186)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: Area sizes may not sum due to rounding.

    We present below brief descriptions of all units, and reasons why 
they meet the definition of critical habitat for the Fickeisen plains 
cactus.
Unit 1: Hurricane Cliffs
    The Hurricane Cliffs Unit is located within the Hurricane Cliffs 
geographic area that is bounded to the west by Mainstreet Valley and to 
the east by Hurricane Cliffs. The unit consists of four subunits 
totaling 3,044 ha (7,524 ac) on the Arizona Strip in Mohave County. The 
unit includes private land, lands owned by the State of Arizona, and 
federally owned land managed by the BLM. This subunit contains all of 
the primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus. Occupancy 
of the Hurricane Cliffs Unit by the Fickeisen plains cactus has been 
documented since 1986 (BLM 1986, p. 1). The species was considered 
generally rare but in abundant numbers at Dutchman Draw with scattered 
individuals located in small clusters adjacent to the Dutchman Draw 
populations. These smaller clusters include the Navajo, Ward, Salaratus 
Draw I and Salaratus Draw II, Temple Trail, and Toquer Tank 
populations.
    Subunit 1a: Dutchman Draw--Subunit 1a consists of 1,527 ha (3,774 
ac) in Mainstreet Valley next to Dutchman Draw. Lands within this 
subunit are occupied at the time of listing. This site has been 
monitored regularly since 1986, and contains 12 plants as of 2011. This 
subunit also includes the Navajo and Ward cluster plots. These small 
plots were last visited in 2001 and 10 plants were found at both of the 
sites. This subunit contains all of the primary constituent elements of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 1b: Salaratus Draw--Subunit 1b consists of 724 ha (1,789 
ac) in Mainstreet Valley. Lands within this subunit are occupied at the 
time of listing. This site was visited only three times between 1986 
and 2001. This subunit includes Salaratus Draw I and Salaratus Draw II 
populations. At most, 44 plants were located in these areas in 19994. 
This subunit contains all of the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 1c: Temple Trail--Subunit 1c consists of 443 ha (1,096 ac) 
in Lower Hurricane Valley. Lands within this subunit are occupied at 
the time of listing. This site was last visited in 2001 when seven 
individuals were found. This subunit contains all of the primary 
constituent elements of the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 1d: Toquer Tank--Subunit 1d consists of 350 ha (865 ac) in 
Mainstreet Valley. Lands within this subunit are occupied at the time 
of listing. This site was regularly monitored from 1986 to 1991, when 
abundance counts ranged from 7 to 13 plants. This site was last visited 
in 1994 and seven individuals were found. This subunit contains all of 
the primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    In all subunits of Unit 1, the features essential to the 
conservation of the species may require special management 
considerations to address threats from livestock grazing; nonnative, 
invasive species; rodent or rabbit predation, and long-term drought.
Unit 2: Sunshine Ridge Unit
    The unit includes lands owned by the State and federally owned land 
that is managed by the BLM. Plants are located east of the Uinkaret 
Plateau and east of the range of the Pediocactus sileri (Siler 
pincushion cactus). Occupancy of the Sunshine Ridge Unit by the 
Fickeisen plains cactus has been documented since 1977 (AGFD 2011b, 
entire). This population has been regularly monitored since 1986, and 
has 34 plants as of 2011. Land within this unit is occupied at the time 
of listing and contains all of the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations to address threats from 
livestock grazing; nonnative, invasive species; rodent or rabbit 
predation, and long-term drought.
Unit 3: Clayhole Valley
    Unit 3 is located in Upper Clayhole Valley on the Uinkaret Plateau. 
The unit consists of the Clayhole Ridge subunit totaling 414 ha (1,024 
ac) on the Arizona Strip in Mohave County. The unit includes land owned 
by the State and federally owned land that is managed by the BLM. 
Occupancy of the Clayhole Valley Unit by the Fickeisen plains cactus 
has been documented since 1980 (AGFD 2011b, entire). The population has 
been monitored annually since 1986. As of 2011, the population contains 
42 plants. Land within this unit is occupied at the time of listing and 
contains all of the primary constituent elements of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require

[[Page 60560]]

special management considerations to address threats from livestock 
grazing; nonnative, invasive species; rodent or rabbit predation, and 
long-term drought.
Unit 4: Snake Gulch Unit
    Unit 4 is located on the western boundary of the Kaibab National 
Forest in Coconino County. The unit consists of 945 ha (2,335 ac) on 
the North Kaibab Ranger District. The entire unit consists of federally 
owned land that is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Occupancy was 
confirmed in 2004, by the Kaibab National Forest. The number of plants 
occurring here has not been documented except in general terms of 
presence/absence. This unit is occupied at the time of listing and 
contains all of the primary constituent elements of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations to address threats from 
nonnative, invasive species and long-term drought. Livestock grazing is 
permitted in this subunit during the winter, but is not considered a 
threat to the features essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.
Unit 5: House Rock Valley
    Unit 5 is located on the eastern edge of the Arizona Strip in 
Coconino County and near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National 
Park. The unit consists of four subunits totaling 1,893 ha (4,678 ac). 
The unit consists of land owned by the State and federally owned land 
that is managed by the BLM. Lands within this unit are occupied at the 
time of listing and contain all of the primary constituent elements of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Occupancy of the Fickeisen plains cactus in the House Rock Valley 
Unit was first documented in 1979 (Phillips 1979, entire; AGFD 2011b, 
entire), at Beanhole Well, Marble Canyon, and South Canyon. These sites 
have not been visited for many years. However, we have no reason to 
believe these sites are not occupied at the time of listing for the 
before-mentioned reasons. Occupancy at the North Canyon Wash site was 
documented in 1986, and it has been regularly monitored. The House Rock 
Valley Unit is bounded by the Colorado River that runs northwest to 
southwest, U.S. Highway 89A to the north, and the Kaibab National 
Forest to the west.
    Subunit 5a: Beanhole Well--Subunit 5a consists of 745 ha (1,841 ac) 
of federally owned land that is managed by the BLM, and 126 ha (312 ac) 
of State-owned land. Lands within this subunit are occupied at the time 
of listing. Three plants were documented at Beanhole Well in 1979, and 
the site has been visited since then, but we do not have information 
available regarding numbers of plants. This subunit contains all of the 
primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 5b: North Canyon Wash--Subunit 1b consists of 472 ha (1,166 
ac) of federally owned land that is managed by the BLM. Lands within 
this subunit are occupied at the time of listing. This site has been 
regularly monitored since 1986. As of 2011, the site contains 39 
Fickeisen plains cactus. This subunit contains all of the primary 
constituent elements of the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 5c: Marble Canyon--Subunit 5c consists of 214 ha (528 ac) 
of federally owned land that is managed by the BLM. Lands within this 
subunit are occupied at the time of listing. Eight plants were 
documented at Marble Canyon in 1979. This site has not been visited for 
many years. This subunit contains all of the primary constituent 
elements of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 5d: South Canyon--Subunit 5d consists of 336 ha (831 ac) of 
Federal Land in House Rock Valley along the rim of Marble Canyon. Lands 
within this subunit are occupied at the time of listing. A total of 52 
plants have been documented at this site historically. This subunit 
contains all of the primary constituent elements of the physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen 
plains cactus.
    In all subunits of Unit 5, the features essential to the 
conservation of the species may require special management 
considerations to address threats from livestock grazing; nonnative, 
invasive species; rodent and rabbit predation, and long-term drought.
Unit 6: Tiger Wash
    Unit 6 is located near the rim of Marble Canyon on the Navajo 
Nation. The unit consists of three subunits totaling 2,257 ha (5,580 
ac) in Coconino County. The entire unit is managed by the Navajo 
Nation. Occupancy of the Tiger Wash Unit by the Fickeisen plains cactus 
was first documented in 1991 (NNHP 2011a, p. 3). At that time, it 
contained 41 plants that were observed to be in good-to-excellent 
condition and reproductive (NNHP 1994, p. 6). We will coordinate with 
the Tribe and examine what conservation actions, management plans, and 
commitments and assurances for the Fickeisen plains cactus occur on 
these lands for potential exclusion from the final designation of 
critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    Subunit 6a: Tiger Wash 1--Subunit 6a consists of 380 ha (940 ac) on 
the Navajo Nation near the Marble Canyon. Lands within this subunit are 
occupied at the time of listing. This site was visited in 2005, and two 
plants were found. This subunit contains all of the primary constituent 
elements of the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 6b: Tiger Wash 2--Subunit 6b consists of 1,497 ha (3,700 
ac) on the Navajo Nation near the Marble Canyon. Lands in this subunit 
are considered occupied at the time of listing. This site was visited 
in 1993, when 11 plants were found among 3 areas within this site. This 
subunit contains all of the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 6c: Shinumo Wash--Subunit 6c consists of 380 ha (940 ac) on 
the Navajo Nation near the Marble Canyon. This subunit is considered 
occupied at the time of listing. This site was visited in 1993, and 
seven plants were found. This subunit contains all of the primary 
constituent elements of the physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    In all subunits of Unit 6, the features essential to the 
conservation of the species may require special management 
considerations to address threats from livestock grazing, nonnative, 
invasive species, and long-term drought.
Unit 7: Little Colorado River Overlook
    Unit 7 is located on the rim of the Little Colorado River on the 
Navajo Nation in Coconino County. The unit consists of 1,170 ha (2,891 
ac). The entire unit is managed by the Navajo Nation. Lands in this 
subunit are considered occupied at the time of listing. Occupancy of 
the Little Colorado River Overlook Unit by the Fickeisen plains cactus 
has been documented since 1956 (AGFD 2011b, entire; NNHP 2011a, p. 3). 
This unit was visited between 1997 and 2005, and a total of 36 plants 
have been documented among three areas. This unit contains all of the 
primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features 
essential

[[Page 60561]]

to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus. We will coordinate 
with the Tribe and examine what conservation actions, management plans, 
and commitments and assurances for the Fickeisen plains cactus occur on 
these lands for potential exclusion from the final designation of 
critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations to address threats from 
livestock grazing, nonnative, invasive species, and long-term drought.
Unit 8: Gray Mountain
    Unit 8 is located in the vicinity of Gray Mountain in Coconino 
County. The unit consists of two subunits totaling 1,656 ha (4,095 ac). 
The unit includes private land, lands owned by the State, tribal lands, 
and federally owned land managed by the BLM. Lands within this unit are 
considered occupied at the time of listing. Occupancy at the Gray 
Mountain unit was first documented in 1962, and consists of two very 
small populations on both sides Highway 89 near the town of Gray 
Mountain. This unit contains all of the primary constituent elements of 
the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the Fickeisen plains cactus. Portions of the Gray Mountain subunit 
occur on the Navajo Nation. We will coordinate with the Tribe and 
examine what conservation actions, management plans, and commitments 
and assurances for the Fickeisen plains cactus occur on these lands for 
potential exclusion from the final designation of critical habitat 
under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    Subunit 8a: Mays Wash--Subunit 8a consists of 697 ha (1,724 ac) 
near the near the town of Gray Mountain. The unit includes private 
land, land owned by the State, and federally owned land managed by the 
BLM. Lands in this subunit are considered occupied at the time of 
listing. Occupancy at this site was documented in 1981 and 1984, when 
31 plants were found (AGFD 2011b, entire). This subunit contains all of 
the primary constituent elements of the physical or biological features 
essential to the conservation of the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    Subunit 8b: Gray Mountain--Subunit 8b consists of 960 ha (2,371 ac) 
on near the near the town of Gray Mountain. This unit includes private 
land, tribal land, and land owned by the State. Lands in this subunit 
are considered occupied at the time of listing. Occupancy was last 
documented in 2009 and three individuals were found (NNHP 2011a, p. 2). 
This subunit contains all of the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus.
    In all subunits of Unit 8, the features essential to the 
conservation of the species may require special management 
considerations to address threats from livestock grazing, nonnative, 
invasive species, and long-term drought.
Unit 9: Cataract Canyon
    Unit 9 is located along the Cataract Canyon drainage, a tributary 
of the Colorado River, on the Coconino Plateau. The unit consists of 
the Cataract Canyon population totaling 7,768 ha (19,196 ac) and 
includes private land and land owned by State. The private parcels are 
within a conservation easement and are referred to as the Cataract 
Natural Reserve Land (TNC 2000, p. 22). Lands in this unit are 
considered occupied at the time of listing. Occupancy of the Cataract 
Canyon Unit by the Fickeisen plains cactus was documented between 2006 
and 2011 (Goodwin 2006, pp. 5-7; Goodwin 2008, pp. 8-10; Goodwin 2011a, 
pp. 18-20). There are 146 plants on private lands, and 161 plants on 
State land. The unit contains all of the primary constituent elements 
of the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of 
the Fickeisen plains cactus.
    The features essential to the conservation of the species may 
require special management considerations to address threats from 
nonnative, invasive species.

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation for Acu[ntilde]a Cactus and 
Fickeisen Plains Cactus

Section 7 Consultation

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

[[Page 60562]]

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

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended 
conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or 
biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the 
conservation value of critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus or 
for the Fickeisen plains cactus. As discussed above, the role of 
critical habitat is to support life-history needs of the species and 
provide for the conservation of the species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for the acu[ntilde]a cactus or the Fickeisen plains 
cactus. These activities include, but are not limited to, actions that 
would adversely affect the composition and structure of soil within the 
designated critical habitat for acu[ntilde]a cactus or the Fickeisen 
plains cactus through land disturbances that result in soil compaction 
or erosion, removal or degradation of native vegetation, or 
fragmentation of the acu[ntilde]a cactus or the Fickeisen plains cactus 
populations or their pollinators. Such activities within the designated 
critical habitat for acu[ntilde]a cactus or the Fickeisen plains cactus 
could include, but are not limited to, road and trail building; 
construction of new border control facilities, towers or fences; 
mining; ORV activity; cattle or burro grazing; and permitting actions 
that would result in any of the above effects. These activities could 
result in the loss of individuals or populations through reduction in 
productivity, the depletion of seedbanks, or the destruction or 
degradation of habitat for these cacti or their pollinators.

Exemptions

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

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

Exclusions

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

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the 
best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. In making that determination, the statute on its face, as well 
as the legislative history, are clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we may exclude an area from 
designated critical habitat based on economic impacts, impacts on 
national security, or any other relevant impacts. In considering 
whether to exclude a particular area from the designation, we identify 
the benefits of including the area in the designation, identify the 
benefits of excluding the area from the designation, and evaluate 
whether the benefits of exclusion outweigh the

[[Page 60563]]

benefits of inclusion. If the analysis indicates that the benefits of 
exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, the Secretary may 
exercise his discretion to exclude the area only if such exclusion 
would not result in the extinction of the species.
Exclusions Based on Economic Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider the economic impacts 
of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In order to 
consider economic impacts, we are preparing an analysis of the economic 
impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation and related 
factors.
    We will announce the availability of the draft economic analysis as 
soon as it is completed. At that time, copies of the draft economic 
analysis will be available for downloading from the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov, or by contacting the Arizona Ecological Services 
Field Office directly (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). During the 
development of a final designation, we will consider economic impacts 
based on information in our economic analysis, public comments, and 
other new information, and areas may be excluded from the final 
critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and our 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.
Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider whether there are 
lands where a national security impact might exist. Department of 
Defense lands that are included in this proposed rule include the BMGR, 
as discussed above in Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act. 
Additionally, there are specific areas included in this proposed rule 
that are not owned or managed by the Department of Defense, but on 
which the CBP operates along the U.S.-Mexico border. CBP is tasked with 
maintaining national security interests along the nation's 
international borders. In order to achieve and maintain effective 
control of the United States border, CBP, through its component, the 
USBP, requires continuing and regular access to certain portions of the 
area proposed for designation as critical habitat. Because CBP's border 
security mission has an important link to national security, CBP may 
identify impacts to national security that may result from designating 
critical habitat. We do not have information currently indicating that 
lands within the proposed designation of critical habitat for the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus will have an impact on national security. However, 
we may consider excluding certain lands in the final rule if we receive 
specific, reasonable justification for that basis of a national 
security concern that would result from the incremental regulatory 
burden of critical habitat during the comment period.
    We have also determined that lands within the proposed designation 
of critical habitat for the Fickeisen plains cactus are not owned or 
managed by the Department of Defense, and, therefore, we anticipate no 
impact on national security. Consequently, the Secretary does not 
propose to exert his discretion to exclude any areas from the final 
designation based on impacts on national security. However, should BMGR 
or another entity identify potential impacts to national security that 
may result from incremental regulatory burden of critical habitat on 
lands owned and managed by the BMGR, or on the lands within the 
critical habitat footprint for the acu[ntilde]a cactus we may consider 
excluding those lands in the final critical habitat designation under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 
424.19.
Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts
    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the 
landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the 
area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be 
encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In 
addition, we look at any Tribal issues, and consider the government-to-
government relationship of the United States with Tribal entities. We 
also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the 
designation.
    The Secretary is not considering exerting his discretion to exclude 
any particular areas from final critical habitat for either of these 
species at this time under section 4(b)(2) of the Act based on 
partnerships, management, or protection afforded by cooperative 
management efforts. In this proposed rule, we are seeking input from 
the public as to whether or not the Secretary should exclude specific 
areas covered under a conservation plan, agreements based on 
conservation partnerships, or other such areas under management that 
benefit the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus from 
the final revised critical habitat designation. In addition, there are 
Tribal lands included in the proposed designation of critical habitat 
for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus. Using the 
criteria found in the Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat 
section for both species, we have determined that tribal lands that are 
occupied by the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus 
contain the features essential for the conservation of both species, as 
well as tribal lands unoccupied by the acu[ntilde]a cactus are 
essential for the conservation of the species. We will seek government-
to-government consultation with these tribes throughout the public 
comment period and during development of the final designations of 
critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and Fickeisen plains 
cactus. We will consider these areas for exclusion from the final 
critical habitat designation to the extent consistent with the 
requirements of 4(b)(2) of the Act. The Navajo Nation and the Tohono 
O'odham Nation are the main tribes affected by this proposed rule. 
(Please see the Information Requested section of this proposed revised 
rule for instructions on how to submit comments).

Peer Review

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

Public Hearings

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

[[Page 60564]]

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.

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

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996 (5 U.S.C 801 et seq.), whenever an agency must publish 
a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare 
and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis 
that describes the effects of the rule on small entities (small 
businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). 
However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of 
the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended 
the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a certification 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    At this time, we lack the available economic information necessary 
to provide an adequate factual basis for the required RFA finding. 
Therefore, we defer the RFA finding until completion of the draft 
economic analysis prepared under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and 
Executive Order 12866. This draft economic analysis will provide the 
required factual basis for the RFA finding. Upon completion of the 
draft economic analysis, we will announce availability of the draft 
economic analysis of the proposed designation in the Federal Register 
and reopen the public comment period for the proposed designation. We 
will include with this announcement, as appropriate, an initial 
regulatory flexibility analysis or a certification that the rule will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities accompanied by the factual basis for that determination. The 
proposed critical habitat areas include Federal, State, military, 
Tribal, and private lands, some of which are used for mining and 
recreation (such as hiking, camping, horseback riding, and hunting). We 
have concluded that deferring the RFA finding until completion of the 
draft economic analysis is necessary to meet the purposes and 
requirements of the RFA. Deferring the RFA finding in this manner will 
ensure that we make a sufficiently informed determination based on 
adequate economic information and provide the necessary opportunity for 
public comment.

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

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. Because there are no energy facilities within the 
footprint of the proposed critical habitat boundaries, and we are 
unaware of energy projects currently proposed within the boundaries, we 
do not expect the designation of this proposed critical habitat to 
significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, 
this action is not a significant energy action, and no Statement of 
Energy Effects is required. However, we will further evaluate this 
issue as we conduct our economic analysis, and review and revise this 
assessment as warranted.

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

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

[[Page 60565]]

of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Military, the 
U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the State of Arizona, 
and the Tohono O'odham and Navajo Nations. None of these government 
entities fit the definition of ``small governmental jurisdiction.'' 
Therefore, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. However, we 
will further evaluate this issue as we conduct our economic analysis, 
and review and revise this assessment if appropriate.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), 
we have analyzed the potential takings implications of designating 
critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains 
cactus in a takings implications assessment. Critical habitat 
designation does not affect landowner actions that do not require 
Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat 
conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit 
actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. The 
takings implications assessment concludes that this designation of 
critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains 
cactus does not pose significant takings implications for lands within 
or affected by the designation. However, we have not yet completed the 
economic analysis for this proposed rule. Once the economic analysis is 
available, we will review and revise this preliminary assessment as 
warranted, and prepare a takings implication assessment.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132 (Federalism), this 
proposed rule does not have significant Federalism effects. A 
Federalism summary impact statement is not required. In keeping with 
Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce policy, we 
requested information from, and coordinated development of, this 
proposed critical habitat designation with appropriate State resource 
agencies in Arizona. The designation of critical habitat in areas 
currently occupied by the acu[ntilde]a cactus or the Fickeisen plains 
cactus may impose nominal additional regulatory restrictions to those 
currently in place and, therefore, may have little incremental impact 
on State and local governments and their activities. The designation 
may have some benefit to these governments because the areas that 
contain the physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species are more clearly defined, and the elements 
of the features of the habitat necessary to the conservation of the 
species are specifically identified. This information does not alter 
where and what federally sponsored activities may occur. However, it 
may assist local governments in long-range planning (rather than having 
them wait for case-by-case section 7 consultations to occur).
    Where State and local governments require approval or authorization 
from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, 
consultation under section 7(a)(2) would be required. While non-Federal 
entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that 
otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for 
an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical 
habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), 
the Office of the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not 
unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating 
critical habitat in accordance with the provisions of the Act. This 
proposed rule uses standard property descriptions and identifies the 
elements of physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus 
within the designated areas to assist the public in understanding the 
habitat needs of the species.

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

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

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

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

Clarity of the Rule

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

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal

[[Page 60566]]

Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered 
Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work 
directly with tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to 
acknowledge that Tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as 
Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to 
make information available to tribes.
    There are Tribal lands included in the proposed designation of 
critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the Fickeisen plains 
cactus. Using the criteria found in the Criteria Used To Identify 
Critical Habitat section for both species, we have determined that 
tribal lands that are occupied by the acu[ntilde]a cactus and the 
Fickeisen plains cactus contain the features essential for the 
conservation of both species, as well as tribal lands unoccupied by the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus are essential for the conservation of the species. 
We will seek government-to-government consultation with these tribes 
throughout the public comment period and during development of the 
final designations of critical habitat for the acu[ntilde]a cactus and 
Fickeisen plains cactus. We will consider these areas for exclusion 
from the final critical habitat designation to the extent consistent 
with the requirements of 4(b)(2) of the Act. The Navajo Nation and the 
Tohono O'odham Nation are the main tribes affected by this proposed 
rule. We recently sent a notification letter to the Navajo Nation and 
the Tohono O'odham Nation describing the exclusion process under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act, and we have engaged in conversations with 
the Tribes about the proposal to the extent possible without disclosing 
pre-decisional information. In addition, we have engaged in informal 
conservations with representatives of the Navajo Nation and the Tohono 
O'odham Nation during the listing process and so the tribes has been 
made aware that the Service is working on critical habitat proposals 
for the two species. We will schedule a meeting with the Navajo Nation 
and Tohono O'odham Nation and any other interested tribes shortly after 
publication of this proposed rule so that we can give them as much time 
as possible to comment. We will also send letters to all other tribes 
with interest in the general geographical areas of the acu[ntilde]a 
cactus and Fickeisen plains cactus range, including the following: Ak 
Chin Indian Community; Chemehuevi Indian Tribe; Cocopah Tribe; Colorado 
River Indian Tribes; Havasupai Tribe; Hopi Tribe; Kaibab Band of Paiute 
Indians; Pascua Yaqui Tribe; Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community; 
San Carlos Apache Tribe; White Mountain Apache Tribe; Yavapai-Apache 
Nation; Yavapai-Prescott Tribe; and Pueblo of Zuni Tribe.

References Cited

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

Authors

    The primary authors of this package are the staff members of the 
Arizona Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--[AMENDED]

    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.

    2. Amend Sec.  17.12(h) by adding entries for ``Echinomastus 
erectocentrus var. acunensis'' and ``Pediocactus peeblesianus var. 
fickeiseniae'' in alphabetical order under FLOWERING PLANTS, to the 
List of Endangered and Threatened Plants, as follows:.


Sec.  17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species
--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Flowering Plants
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Echinomastus erectocentrus var.    Acu[ntilde]a cactus.  U.S.A. (AZ), Mexico  Cactaceae..........  E                               17.96(a)           NA
 acunensis.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Pediocactus peeblesianus var.      Fickeisen plains      U.S.A. (AZ)........  Cactaceae..........  E                               17.96(a)           NA
 fickeiseniae.                      cactus.
 
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    3. Amend Sec.  17.96 by adding entries for ``Echinomastus 
erectocentrus var. acunensis (acu[ntilde]a cactus) and ``Pediocactus 
peeblesianus var. fickeiseniae (Fickeisen plains cactus),'' in 
alphabetical order under the family Cactaceae, to read as follows.


Sec.  17.96  Critical habitat--plants.

    (a) Flowering plants.
* * * * *
Family Cactaceae: Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis 
(acu[ntilde]a cactus)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Maricopa, Pima, and 
Pinal Counties, Arizona, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
acu[ntilde]a cactus consist of:
    (i) Native vegetation within the Paloverde-Cacti-Mixed Scrub Series 
of the Arizona Upland Subdivision of the Sonoran Desert-scrub at 
elevations between 365 to 1,150 m (1,198 to 3,773 ft). This vegetation 
must contain predominantly native plant species that:
    a. Provide protection to the acu[ntilde]a cactus. Examples of such 
plants are creosote bush, ironwood, and palo verde;

[[Page 60567]]

    b. Provide for pollinator habitat with a radius of 900 m (2,953 ft) 
around each individual, reproducing acu[ntilde]a cactus;
    c. Allow for seed dispersal through the presence of bare soils 
immediately adjacent to and within 10 m (32.8 ft) of individual, 
reproducing acu[ntilde]a cactus.
    (ii) Soils overlying rhyolite, andesite, tuff, granite, 
granodiorite, diorite, or Cornelia quartz monzonite bedrock that are in 
valley bottoms, on small knolls, or on ridgetops, and are generally on 
slopes of less than 30 percent.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Digital data layers defining map 
units were created using geology, topography, elevation, vegetation 
community, mean annual precipitation from the 1971 to 2000 period of 
record, and acu[ntilde]a cactus herbarium and site visit records from 
1952 to the present; these were mapped using Universal Transverse 
Mercator (UTM) coordinates. The maps in this entry, as modified by any 
accompanying regulatory text, establish the boundaries of the critical 
habitat designation. The coordinates or plot points or both on which 
each map is based are available to the public at the Service's internet 
site, (http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/), (http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-RX-ES-2012-0061 and at the field 
office responsible for this designation. You may obtain field office 
location information by contacting one of the Service regional offices, 
the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.
    (5) Index map follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
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    (6) Unit 1: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Pima County, AZ. 
Map of Unit 1 follows:

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    (7) Unit 2: Ajo Unit, Pima County, AZ. Map of Unit 2 follows:

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    (8) Unit 3: Sauceda Mountains Unit, Maricopa and Pima Counties, AZ. 
Map of Unit 3 is provided at paragraph (7) of this entry.
    (9) Unit 4: Sand Tank Mountains Unit, Maricopa County, AZ. Map of 
Unit 4 follows:

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    (10) Unit 5: Mineral Mountain Unit and Unit, Pinal County, AZ. Map 
of Units 5 and 6 follows:

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BILLING CODE 4310-55-P
    (11) Unit 6: Box O Wash Unit, Pinal County, AZ. Map of Unit 6 is 
provided at paragraph (10) of this entry.
Family Cactaceae: Pediocactus peeblesianus var. fickeiseniae (Fickeisen 
plains cactus)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted for Mohave and Coconino 
Counties, Arizona, on the maps below.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Fickeisen plains cactus consist of:
    (i) Soils in northern Arizona on the Colorado Plateau that are:
    a. Formed from alluvium, colluvium, or Aeolian deposits;
    b. Derived from limestone of the Harrisburg member of the Kaibab 
Formation and Toroweap Formation;
    c. Underlain with Coconino Sandstone, and sandstone and mudstone of 
the Moenkopi Formation;
    d. At an elevation of 1,310 to 1,813 m (4,200 to 5,950 ft);
    e. Are gravelly-loam, fine-textured, well drained, and shallow;

[[Page 60572]]

    f. On terraces, benches, tops of mesas and plateaus, toe-slope of 
hills with a 0 to 20 percent slope;
    g. Supportive of biological soil crusts;
    h. Within the Plains and Great Basin grassland and Great Basin 
desert scrub vegetation communities;
    (ii) Native vegetation in areas that have natural, generally intact 
surface and subsurface features that provide habitat and suitable 
nesting substrate for the cactus' pollinators and space for seed 
dispersal and germination; and
    (iii) Provide for pollinator habitat with a radius of 1,000 m 
(3,280 ft) around each individual, reproducing Fickeisen plains cactus.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
the effective date of this rule.
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created using a base of U.S. Geological Survey 7.5' quadrangle maps. 
Critical habitat units were then mapped using Universal Transverse 
Mercator (UTM) zone 11, North American Datum (NAD) 1983 coordinates.
    (5)  Note: Index map follows:
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

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    (6) Unit 1: Hurricane Cliffs Unit, Mohave County, AZ. Map of Unit 1 
follows:

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    (7) Unit 2: Sunshine Ridge Unit, Mohave County, AZ. Map of Units 2 
and 3 follow:

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    (8) Unit 3: Clayhole Valley Unit, Mohave County, AZ. Map of Unit 3 
is provided at paragraph (7) of this entry.
    (9) Unit 4: Snake Gulch Unit, Coconino County, AZ. Map of Unit 4 
follows:

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    (10) Unit 5: House Rock Valley Unit, Coconino County, AZ. Maps of 
Unit 5 and 6 follows:

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    (11) Unit 6: Tiger Wash Unit, Coconino County, AZ. Map of Unit 6 is 
provided at paragraph (10) of this entry.
    (12) Unit 7: Little Colorado River Overlook Unit, Coconino County, 
AZ. Map of Units 7 and 8 follows:

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    (13) Unit 8: Gray Mountain Unit, Coconino County, AZ. Map of Unit 8 
is provided at paragraph (12) of this entry.
    (14) Unit 9: Cataract Canyon Unit, Coconino County, AZ. Map of Unit 
9 follows:

[[Page 60579]]

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* * * * *

    Dated: September 17, 2012.
Michael J. Bean,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-23853 Filed 10-2-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C