[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 49 (Wednesday, March 13, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 15925-15927]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-05855]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2012-0108; FWS-R6-ES-2011-0111; 4500030113; 
4500030114]
RIN 1018-AZ20; RIN 1018-AX71


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status 
and Critical Habitat Designation for Gunnison Sage-Grouse

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of comment period.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are 
extending the public comment period on two proposed rules: to list the 
Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) as endangered and to 
propose critical habitat for the Gunnison sage-grouse under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Both proposed rules 
were published in the Federal Register on January 11, 2013. We are 
extending the comment period to allow

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the public an adequate opportunity to review and comment on the 
proposed rules. Comments already submitted need not be resubmitted, as 
they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rules, which 
we intend to issue by the end of Fiscal Year 2013 (September 30, 2013) 
as required by a court-approved settlement agreement.

DATES: The public comment period on the proposed rule to list the 
Gunnison sage-grouse as endangered and the proposed rule to designate 
critical habitat published in the Federal Register on January 11, 2013 
(78 FR 2486 and 2540) is extended to April 2, 2013. 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.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter the appropriate Docket 
No.: FWS-R6-ES-2012-0108 for the proposed endangered status for 
Gunnison sage-grouse; or FWS-R6-ES-2011-0111 for the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse. Then, in the 
Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type 
heading, check on the Proposed Rules link to locate the proposed rule. 
You may submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: For the proposed endangered status for Gunnison 
sage-grouse, submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments 
Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2012-0108; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    For the proposed designation of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-
grouse, submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments 
Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2011-0111; 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 details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patty Gelatt, Western Colorado 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Colorado Field 
Office, 764 Horizon Drive, Building B, Grand Junction, CO 81506-3946; 
telephone 970-243-2778; facsimile 970-245-6933. If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On January 11, 2013, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule to list the Gunnison sage-grouse as endangered (78 FR 
2486), and a proposed rule to designate approximately 1.7 million acres 
of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse (78 FR 2540) under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Each proposed rule has a 
60-day comment period, ending March 12, 2013. We received several 
requests from the public to extend the comment period for these 
proposals. To ensure the public has an adequate opportunity to review 
and comment on these proposed rules, we are extending the comment 
period to April 2, 2013 (see DATES). We intend to issue final 
determinations on each of these rules by September 30, 2013.

Information Requested

    We will accept written comments and information during this 
extended comment period and will consider information and 
recommendations from all interested parties. If you previously 
submitted comments or information on the proposed rules, please do not 
resubmit them. We have incorporated them into the public record, and we 
will fully consider them in the preparation of our final 
determinations. We intend that any final action resulting from these 
proposals be based on the best scientific and commercial data available 
and be as accurate and as effective as possible.
    We request comments or information from the public, other concerned 
governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning these 
proposed rules. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
    (a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its 
habitat, or both.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing 
determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    (3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threats (or lack thereof) to this 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 this species, 
including the locations of any additional populations of this 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, including whether 
there are threats to the 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 Gunnison sage-grouse habitat;
    (b) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical range 
currently occupied by the 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 the species, should be included in the designation and 
why; and
    (f) What areas not occupied at the time of listing (or the present 
time) are essential for the conservation of the species and why.
    (8) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
areas occupied by the species or proposed to be designated as critical 
habitat, and possible impacts of these activities on this species and 
proposed critical habitat.

[[Page 15927]]

    (9) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on the Gunnison sage-grouse and proposed critical 
habitat.
    (10) With respect to the proposed designation of critical habitat, 
any foreseeable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts 
that may result from designating any areas 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 any specific areas we are proposing for critical 
habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act, and particularly whether the benefits of 
potentially excluding any specific area outweigh the benefits of 
including that area as set out in section 4(b)(2) of the Act. For 
instance, should the proposed designation exclude properties currently 
enrolled in the Gunnison sage-grouse Candidate Conservation Agreement 
with Assurances, properties under conservation easement, or properties 
held by conservation organizations, and why?
    (12) 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 accommodating 
public concerns and comments.
    (13) 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 designation.
    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 a threatened or endangered 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 above. 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.
    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, Western Colorado Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). You may obtain copies of the proposed rules on 
the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-
2012-0108 for the proposed endangered status for Gunnison sage-grouse; 
or Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2011-0111 for the proposed designation of 
critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse. Copies of the proposed rules 
are also available at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/birds/gunnisonsagegrouse/.

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

    Dated: March 7, 2013.
Rowan W. Gould,
Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-05855 Filed 3-12-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P