[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 192 (Thursday, October 3, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 61451-61503]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-23567]



[[Page 61451]]

Vol. 78

Thursday,

No. 192

October 3, 2013

Part II





 Department of the Interior





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





 Fish and Wildlife Service





-----------------------------------------------------------------------





50 CFR Part 17





 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of 
Endangered Status for the Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly and Threatened 
Status for the Streaked Horned Lark; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 192 / Thursday, October 3, 2013 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 61452]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2012-0080; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY18


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of 
Endangered Status for the Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly and Threatened 
Status for the Streaked Horned Lark

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
endangered status for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas 
editha taylori) and threatened status for the streaked horned lark 
(Eremophila alpestris strigata) under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973 (Act), as amended. This final rule adds these species to the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and implements the Federal 
protections provided by the Act for these species. This rule also 
establishes a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act to exempt 
certain activities from the take prohibitions of the Act and our 
regulations in order to provide for the conservation of the streaked 
horned lark.

DATES: This rule is effective November 4, 2013.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/TCBSHL.html. Comments 
and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the 
preparation of this rule, will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive SE., 
Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503-1263; 360-753-9440 (telephone); 360-753-9008 
(facsimile).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Berg, Manager, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond 
Drive, Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503-1263; by telephone 360-753-9440; or 
by facsimile 360-753-9405. 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

    On October 11, 2012 (77 FR 61938), we published a proposed rule to 
list the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori) as 
an endangered species, and the streaked horned lark (Eremophila 
alpestris strigata) as a threatened species. In this final rule, we are 
finalizing our proposed determinations for these species under the Act. 
The Act requires that a final rule be published in order to add species 
to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to provide 
protections under the Act. Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, we 
are finalizing designation of critical habitat for these species under 
the Act. The final critical habitat designations and supporting 
documents are published under Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2013-0009. The table 
below summarizes our determination for each of these species:

  Table 1--Summary of the Status and Range of the Taylor's Checkerspot
                 Butterfly and the Streaked Horned Lark
------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Species                       Present range        Status
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly--       British Columbia, Canada;  Endang
 Euphydryas editha taylori.             Clallam, Pierce, and      ered.
                                        Thurston Counties, WA;
                                        and Benton County, OR.
Streaked horned lark--Eremophila       Grays Harbor, Mason,       Threat
 alpestris strigata.                    Pacific, Pierce,          ened.
                                        Thurston, Cowlitz, and
                                        Wahkiakum Counties, WA;
                                        Benton, Clackamas,
                                        Clatsop, Columbia, Lane,
                                        Linn, Marion, Multnomah,
                                        Polk, Washington, and
                                        Yamhill Counties, OR.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This rule:
     Lists the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly as an endangered 
species under the Act because it is currently in danger of extinction 
throughout the species' range.
     Lists the streaked horned lark as a threatened species 
under the Act because it is likely to become endangered within the 
foreseeable future throughout the species' range due to continued 
threats.
     Establishes a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act 
to exempt certain airport maintenance activities and operations, 
agricultural activities, and noxious weed control activities from the 
take prohibitions of the Act and our regulations in order to provide 
for the conservation of the streaked horned lark.

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 these species are impacted by one or more 
of the following factors to the extent that the species meets the 
definition of an endangered or threatened species under the Act:
     Habitat loss through conversion and degradation of 
habitat, particularly from agricultural and urban development, 
successional changes to grassland habitat, military training, and the 
spread of invasive plants;
     Predation (streaked horned lark);
     Inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms that allow 
significant threats such as habitat loss;
     Other natural or manmade factors, including low genetic 
diversity, small or isolated populations, low reproductive success, and 
declining population sizes;
     Aircraft strikes and training at airports (streaked horned 
lark); and
     Pesticide use (potential threat for the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly).

Peer Review and Public Comment

    We sought comments from independent specialists to ensure that our 
determination is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and 
analyses. We invited these peer reviewers to comment on our listing 
proposal. We also considered all comments and information we received 
during the comment periods and the public hearing.

[[Page 61453]]

Background

    It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly relevant to 
the listing determinations for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and 
the streaked horned lark in this final rule. A summary of topics 
relevant to this final rule is provided below. Additional information 
on both species may be found in the proposed rule, which was published 
October 11, 2012 (77 FR 61938).

Previous Federal Action

Candidate History
    We first identified the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the 
streaked horned lark as candidates for listing in our 2001 candidate 
notice of review (CNOR) (66 FR 54808; October 30, 2001). Each candidate 
species is assigned a listing priority number (LPN) that is based on 
the immediacy and magnitude of threats and taxonomic status. In 2001, 
both of these species were assigned an LPN of 6, which reflects threats 
of a high magnitude that are not considered imminent.
    In 2004, based on new information, we determined that the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly faced imminent threats of a high magnitude, and 
we assigned it an LPN of 3 (69 FR 24876; May 4, 2004). In 2006, the 
streaked horned lark was also assigned an LPN of 3, based on a review 
indicating that the continued loss of suitable lark habitat, risks to 
the wintering populations, and plans for development, hazing, and 
military training activities were imminent threats to the species (71 
FR 53756; September 12, 2006). The candidate status, with an LPN of 3 
for each species, for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the 
streaked horned lark was most recently reaffirmed in the November 21, 
2012, CNOR (77 FR 69994). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
completed action plans for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the 
streaked horned lark and set conservation targets and identified 
actions to achieve those targets over the next 5 years. These plans can 
be found on the Service's Web site at: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/action_plans/doc3089.pdf (Taylor's checkerspot butterfly) and http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/pdf/STHL_Action%20Plan_Sept2009.pdf (streaked 
horned lark).
    On October 11, 2012, we published a proposed rule in the Federal 
Register to list the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly as endangered and 
the streaked horned lark as threatened, and to designate critical 
habitat for these two species (77 FR 61938). This proposed rule also 
contained a proposed special rule under section 4(d) of the Act for the 
streaked horned lark. The 60-day comment period on that proposed rule 
closed on December 10, 2012. On April 3, 2013, we published a document 
making available the draft economic analysis of the proposed critical 
habitat designations for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the 
streaked horned lark, and an amended required determinations section of 
the proposed designations (78 FR 20074). We additionally announced 
three public information workshops and a public hearing, held in April 
2013, on the proposed rule to list the species and the associated 
critical habitat designations. The public comment period was reopened 
for 30 days, ending on May 3, 2013. The final rule designating critical 
habitat for these two species is published elsewhere in today's Federal 
Register.

Species Information--Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly

    Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is a medium-sized, colorfully marked 
butterfly with a checkerboard pattern on the upper (dorsal) side of the 
wings (Pyle 2002, p. 310). Their wings are orange with black and 
yellowish (or white) spot bands, giving them a checkered appearance 
(Pyle 1981, p. 607; Pyle 2002, p. 310). The Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly was historically known to occur in British Columbia, 
Washington, and Oregon, and its current distribution represents a 
reduction from over 80 locations rangewide to 14.
Taxonomy and Species Description
    Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is a subspecies of Edith's 
checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha). The Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly was originally described by W.H. Edwards (1888) from 
specimens collected from Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, British Columbia 
(BC). Euphydryas editha taylori is recognized as a valid subspecies by 
the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS 2012a). It is one of 
several rare and threatened subspecies of Edith's checkerspot 
butterfly, including the Bay checkerspot (E. e. bayensis) from the San 
Francisco Bay area and the Quino checkerspot (E. e. quino) from the San 
Diego, California, region; both are federally listed under the Act. For 
further information, see the proposed rule published on October 11, 
2012 (77 FR 61938).
Distribution
    Historically, the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly was likely 
distributed throughout grassland habitat found on prairies, shallow-
soil balds (a bald is a small opening on slopes in a treeless area, 
dominated by herbaceous vegetation), grassland bluffs, and grassland 
openings within a forested matrix in south Vancouver Island, northern 
Olympic Peninsula, the south Puget Sound, and the Willamette Valley. 
The historical range and abundance of the subspecies are not precisely 
known because extensive searches for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
did not occur until recently. Northwest prairies were formerly more 
common, larger, and interconnected, and would likely have supported a 
greater distribution and abundance of the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterflies than prairie habitat does today. According to Dr. Robert 
Pyle (2012, in litt.):

    ``Euphydryas editha taylori was previously more widely 
distributed and much denser in occurrence than is presently the case 
on the Puget Prairies. The checkerspot was abundant on the Mima 
Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP) and surrounding prairies in 1970. 
In the mid-eighties, Taylor's checkerspot butterfly flew by the 
thousands on Rock Prairie, a private farm property west of Tenino. 
All of these sites have since been rendered unsuitable for E. e. 
taylori through management changes, and Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly has dropped out of them; meanwhile, many other colonies 
have disappeared in their vicinity through outright development or 
conversion of the habitat. The same is true for bluff-top colonies I 
knew in the early '70s at Dungeness. The ongoing loss and alteration 
of habitat in the western Washington grasslands has without question 
led to the shrinkage of Taylor's checkerspot occurrences from a 
regional constellation to a few small clusters.''

    Before the recent declines observed over roughly the last 10 or 15 
years, the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly was known from an estimated 
80 locations: 24 in British Columbia, 43 in Washington, and 13 in 
Oregon (Hinchliff 1996, p. 115; Shepard 2000, pp. 25-26; Vaughan and 
Black 2002, p. 6; Stinson 2005, pp. 93-96, 123-124). These sites 
included coastal and inland prairies on southern Vancouver Island and 
surrounding islands in the Straits of Georgia, British Columbia and the 
San Juan Island archipelago (Hinchliff 1996, p. 115; Pyle 2002, p. 
311), as well as open prairies on post-glacial gravelly outwash and 
shallow-soil balds in Washington's Puget Trough (Potter 2010, p. 1), 
the north Olympic Peninsula (Holtrop 2010, p. 1), and grassland habitat 
within a forested matrix in Oregon's Willamette Valley (Benton County 
2010, Appendix N, p. 5).
    The 1949 field season summary for North American lepidoptera 
(Hopfinger 1949, p. 89) states that an abundant

[[Page 61454]]

distribution of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly was known from the 
south Puget Sound prairies: ``Euphydryas editha (taylori), as usual, 
appeared by the thousands on Tenino Prairie.'' By 1989, Pyle (p. 170) 
had reported that there were fewer than 15 populations remaining 
rangewide. Surveys in 2001 and 2002 of the three historical locations 
on Hornby Island, British Columbia, failed to detect any the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies; the last observation of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly from this location was 1995 (Committee on the 
Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) 2011, p. 15). By fall 
2002, only six populations were known to occur rangewide, four from the 
south Puget Sound region in Washington, one from San Juan County, 
Washington, and one from the Willamette Valley of Oregon (USFWS 2002a).
Current Range and Distribution
    Nearly all localities for the Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in 
British Columbia have been lost; the only location currently known from 
British Columbia was discovered in 2005 (COSEWIC 2011, p. iv). In 
Oregon, although many surveys have been conducted at a variety of 
historical and potential locations within the Willamette Valley, many 
of those have failed to detect the species; the number of locations 
occupied by Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in Oregon has declined 
from 13 to 2 (Ross 2011, in litt., p. 1). In Washington State, more 
than 43 historical locales were documented for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly. In 2012, there were 11 documented locations for the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies with only 1 of the localities harboring more 
than 1,000 individuals, and the majority of known sites have daily 
counts of fewer than 100 individual butterflies.
    Due to the limited distribution and few populations of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly, surveys for this subspecies are quite thorough, 
generally consisting of a minimum of 3 days of visits during the flight 
period, and occasionally numbering up to 10 or 12 days of counts. 
Multiple days of counts during the annual flight period greatly 
increase the reliability of abundance data for butterflies; thus, we 
believe the data on numbers of the Taylor's checkerspot butterflies to 
be highly reliable.
    Canada--After years of surveys (2001 through 2004) at historical 
population sites in British Columbia that failed to detect the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies (COSEWIC 2011, pp. 15-16), a population was 
discovered on Denman Island in 2005. Denman Island is located 
approximately 106 miles (170 km) north of Victoria, British Columbia, 
along the eastern shores of Vancouver Island in the Straits of Georgia. 
The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly records from British Columbia date 
from 1888 through 2011, when the last survey was conducted. Surveys are 
regularly conducted on Vancouver Island and other historical locations 
(Page et al. 2009, p. iv). In 2008, a single Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly was detected on Vancouver Island in the Courtney-Comox area, 
where they had not been observed since 1931 (COSEWIC 2011, pp. 15-16). 
Additional surveys were conducted at this location, and only the single 
butterfly was observed. It is likely that this single adult had 
dispersed from the Denman Island population located approximately 0.3 
mi (0.5 km) away. As of 2012, the only currently known occurrence of 
the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly in Canada is on Denman Island (Page 
et al. 2009, p. 2; COSEWIC 2011, p. iv).
    Washington--In Washington, surveys have been conducted annually for 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in currently and historically occupied 
sites. Surveys on south Puget Sound prairies have been conducted from 
1997 through 2011, by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 
(WDFW), Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Center for 
Natural Lands Management (previously The Nature Conservancy of 
Washington), and personnel from the Wildlife Branch of Joint Base 
Lewis-McChord (JBLM; formerly known as Fort Lewis Army Base and McChord 
Air Force Base, respectively). In 1994, a report from Char and Boersma 
(1995) indicated the presence of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies on 
the 13th Division Prairie on JBLM; no additional locations have been 
reported since 1999, when a handful of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies 
were observed by WDFW (Hays et al. 2000, p. 13). Surveys have been 
conducted annually on the 13th Division Prairie since 2000; however, no 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies have been detected during the spring 
flight period (Ressa 2003, pp. 7, 14; Gilbert 2004, p. 5; Linders 
2012c, in litt.). Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are believed to be 
extirpated from the 13th Division Prairie at JBLM (Linders 2012c, in 
litt.).
    Four other sites in Thurston County (Glacial Heritage, Scatter 
Creek north and south units, and Rocky Prairie NAP) had Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies present in 1997. No Taylor's checkerspot 
butterflies were observed during surveys conducted in 1998 and 1999 at 
these locations (Hays et al. 2000, p. 13; Stinson 2005, p. 95). 
Subsequent annual surveys at Glacial Heritage and Scatter Creek, south 
unit, have not detected Taylor's checkerspot butterflies until 
reintroduction through translocation to these sites resulted in 
occupation (Linders and Olson 2011, slide number 17; Bidwell 2012, 
pers. comm.). We did not count these sites as occupied in 2012, but 
after 3 years of positive survey data, we tentatively consider them 
occupied.
    Four historical locales for Taylor's checkerspot butterflies were 
permanently lost in the south Puget Sound region to development 
(Dupont, JBLM Training Area 7S, Spanaway, and Lakewood in Pierce 
County) or conversion to agriculture (Rock Prairie in Thurston County) 
(Stinson 2005, pp. 93-96). In addition, several older Washington 
specimens are labeled with general or imprecise locality names on their 
collection labels (e.g., Olympia 1893; Tenino 1929; Shelton 1971; 
Dungeness 1999) (Stinson 2005, pp. 94-95). Some of these site names may 
refer to unknown or currently occupied locales, but due to the 
imprecise nature of their collection data, the actual location of these 
collection sites has not been determined.
    Surveys of 15 prairies within the south Puget Sound landscape in 
2001 and 2002 located Taylor's checkerspot butterflies on only 4 sites 
in Thurston and Pierce Counties (Stinson 2005, pp. 93-96). Three of the 
four sites were found in the Bald Hill landscape in southeast Thurston 
County. Taylor's checkerspot butterflies were documented at the Bald 
Hills through 2007, but there have been no detections since, despite 
regular and thorough surveying from 2001 through 2011 (Potter 2011, p. 
3). This number has declined substantially in recent years as habitat 
has become increasingly shaded and modified by encroaching trees, 
nonnative grasses, and the invasive, nonnative shrub Scot's broom 
(Cytisus scoparius). Potter (2010, p. 1) reported multiple site visits 
to conduct redundant surveys in formerly occupied bald habitat during 
the 2008-2010 flight period with no Taylor's checkerspot butterflies 
observed. The subspecies is presumed to be extirpated from this 
location.
    The 91st Division Prairie is located on JBLM and encompasses 
approximately 7,600 acres (ac) (3,075 hectares (ha)) of native 
grassland. Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are documented at two 
locations within 91st Division Prairie, Range 50-51, and Range 72-76. 
The only extant, naturally occurring population of the Taylor's 
checkerspot

[[Page 61455]]

butterfly within the south Puget Sound is located here, and has served 
as the source population for the collection of eggs and adult 
butterflies for captive propagation for reintroduction efforts. This is 
the largest population of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, and it 
occurs in several small, discrete patches of habitat. Maximum daily 
counts from surveys conducted at this site between 2005-2012 ranged 
from 70 to 2,070 (Randolph, unpub. data, p. 79; Wolford 2006; Olson and 
Linders 2010; Linders 2011b; Linders 2012d, p. 27).
    In the course of conducting surveys for another rare grassland-
associated butterfly found in Washington, the island marble (Euchloe 
ausonides insulanus), over 150 potential grassland locations where 
historical locales for Taylor's checkerspot butterflies exist (Pyle 
1989, p. 170) were surveyed for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly in 
the north Puget Sound region during spring of 2005 through the spring 
of 2011 (Miskelly 2005; Potter et al. 2011). Although the flight 
periods and habitat of both butterflies overlap, no Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies were found during these surveys.
    Several historical sites with potentially suitable habitat were 
surveyed on the north Olympic Peninsula (Clallam County) during spring 
2003. The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly was found to occupy five 
locations in this geographic area in 2003. At one historical site near 
the mouth of the Dungeness River, only a few individuals were detected. 
However, no Taylor's checkerspot butterflies were detected at this 
location during surveys from 2005 through 2009 (McMillan 2007, pers. 
comm.; Potter 2012, pers. comm.). The other four populations were found 
on grassy openings on shallow-soiled bald habitat west of the Elwha 
River. Two of these sites were estimated to support at least 50 to 100 
adult Taylor's checkerspot butterflies (Dan Kelly Ridge and Eden 
Valley), and just a few individuals were found at the two other bald 
sites (Striped Peak and Highway 112) (Hays 2011, p. 1). Subsequent 
surveys at the latter two sites, Striped Peak and Highway 112, from 
2004-2011, have failed to relocate or detect any Taylor's checkerspot 
butterflies.
    In 2006, a population was discovered near the town of Sequim. 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies have since been detected annually at 
this location from 2006-2011 (Hays 2009, pers. comm.; Hays 2011, p. 
29). At this site, Taylor's checkerspot butterflies inhabit 
approximately 5 ac (2 ha) of estuarine, deflation plain (or back 
beach), a road with restricted use, and farm-edge habitat. In 2010, a 
maximum count of 568 Taylor's checkerspot butterflies was recorded on a 
single day (April 3, 2010); normally peak daily counts from this 
location range from 50 to 240 individuals (Hays 2011, p. 29).
    Since 2007, three new Taylor's checkerspot butterfly populations 
have been found in Clallam County on Olympic National Forest lands. All 
three sites are located in the Dungeness River watershed: Bear 
Mountain, Three O'Clock Ridge, and Upper Dungeness (Holtrop 2009, p. 
2). The U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) and WDFW are currently 
monitoring butterfly numbers at these sites annually. As of 2012, a 
total of six occupied sites are known from Clallam County: Sequim, Eden 
Valley, Dan Kelly Ridge, Bear Mountain, Three O'Clock Ridge, and Upper 
Dungeness.
    Oregon--All of the 13 historical locales within the Willamette 
Valley of western Oregon have been surveyed regularly by local 
lepidopterists (McCorkle 2008, pers. comm.; Ross 2005; Stinson 2005, p. 
124; Benton County 2010, p. 13; Potter 2012, pers. comm.). Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies were formerly reported to exist in large 
numbers (``swarms on the meadows beside Oak Creek'') on the upland 
prairies of the Willamette Valley in Lane, Benton, and Polk Counties 
(Dornfeld 1980, p. 73). Now only remnant populations exist in Oregon. 
In 1999, Taylor's checkerspot butterflies were discovered along the 
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) right-of-way corridor in an area 
known as Fitton Green-Cardwell Hill in Benton County. In 2004, surveys 
for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly were expanded in the Willamette 
Valley, where a second population was discovered on grassland openings 
within the Beazell Memorial Forest in Benton County. These two 
locations for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly are currently the only 
occupied patches known from Oregon.
    Summary--Based on historical and current data, the distribution and 
abundance of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies have declined 
significantly rangewide, with the majority of local extirpations 
occurring from approximately the mid-1990s in Canada (COSEWIC 2011, p. 
15), 1999-2004 in south Puget Sound, and around 2007 at the Bald Hills 
location in Washington. Several new locations harboring Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies have been rediscovered on historical sites on 
WDNR lands (USFWS 2004, pp. 3-4; USFWS 2007, p. 5) and have also been 
found at new locations on natural and manipulated balds within the 
Dungeness River watershed on the north Olympic Peninsula in Washington. 
Currently 14 individual locations are considered occupied by the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly rangewide: Denman Island (British 
Columbia, Canada); Eden Valley, Dan Kelly Ridge, Sequim, Bear Mountain, 
Three O'Clock Ridge, and Upper Dungeness (north Olympic Peninsula, 
Washington); Range 72-76, Range 50-51, Pacemaker Training Area 14 
(JBLM, Washington); Scatter Creek, and Glacial Heritage (south Puget 
Sound, Washington); and Beazell Memorial Forest, and Fitton Green-
Cardwell Hill (Oregon).
Habitat
    Taylor's checkerspot butterfly occupies open grassland habitat 
found on prairies, shallow-soil balds (Chappell 2006, p. 1), grassland 
bluffs, and grassland openings within a forested matrix in south 
Vancouver Island, British Columbia; the north Olympic Peninsula and the 
south Puget Sound, Washington; and the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The 
recently discovered population on Denman Island in Canada, discovered 
in May 2005, occupies an area that had been clear-cut harvested, and is 
now dominated by, and maintained as, grass and forb vegetation (for 
details, see 77 FR 61938; October 11, 2012). In British Columbia, 
Canada, Taylor's checkerspot butterflies were historically known to 
occupy coastal grassland habitat on Vancouver Island and nearby 
islands, not forests that were converted to early successional 
conditions by clear-cutting. In Washington, Taylor's checkerspot 
butterflies inhabit glacial outwash prairies in the south Puget Sound 
region. Northwest prairies were formerly more common, larger, and 
interconnected, and would likely have supported a greater distribution 
and abundance of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies than prairie habitat 
does today (Pyle 2012, in litt.). On the northeast Olympic Peninsula 
they use shallow-soil balds and grasses within a forested landscape, as 
well as roadsides, former clear-cut areas within a forested matrix, and 
a coastal stabilized dune site near the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Stinson 
2005, pp. 93-96). The two Oregon sites are on grassland hills in the 
Willamette Valley within a forested matrix (Vaughan and Black 2002, p. 
7; Ross 2008, p. 1; Benton County 2010, Appendix N, p. 5).
Biology
    Taylor's checkerspot butterflies produce one brood per year. They 
overwinter (diapause) in the fourth or fifth larval instar 
(developmental) phase and have a flight period as adults of 10

[[Page 61456]]

to 14 days, usually in May, although depending on local site and 
climatic conditions, the flight period begins in late April and extends 
into early July, as in Oregon, where the flight season has been 
documented as lasting up to 45 days (Ross 2008, p. 2). All nontropical 
checkerspot butterflies, including the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, 
have the capability to reenter diapause prior to metamorphosis during 
years that weather is extremely inhospitable or when the larval food 
resources are restricted (Ehrlich and Hanski 2004, p. 22). It is 
important to note that while Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are 
obvious while on the wing during the flight period, they are present 
and relatively sedentary throughout the rest of the year while in their 
larval form; we consider them a resident subspecies year-round and 
especially vulnerable to many forms of disturbance while in the life-
history stages prior to metamorphosis.
    Female Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and their larvae utilize 
plants that contain defensive chemicals known as iridoid glycosides, 
which have been recognized to influence the selection of oviposition 
sites by adult nymphalid butterflies (butterflies in the family 
Nymphalidae) (Murphy et al. 2004, p. 22; Page et al. 2009, p. 2), and 
function as a feeding stimulant for some checkerspot larvae (Kuussaari 
et al. 2004, p. 147). As maturing larvae feed, they accumulate these 
defensive chemical compounds from their larval host plants into their 
bodies. According to the work of Bowers (1981, pp. 373-374), this 
accumulation appears to deter predation. These larval host plants 
include members of the Broomrape family (Orobanchaceae), such as 
Castilleja (paintbrushes) and Orthocarpus, which is now known as 
Triphysaria (owl's clover), and native and nonnative Plantago species, 
which are members of the Plantain family (Plantaginaceae) (Pyle 2002, 
p. 311; Vaughan and Black 2002, p. 8). The recent rediscovery in 2005 
of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in Canada led to the observation 
that additional food plants (Veronica serpyllifolia (thymeleaf 
speedwell) and V. beccabunga ssp. americana (American speedwell)) were 
being utilized by Taylor's checkerspot butterfly larvae (Heron 2008, 
pers. comm.; Page et al. 2009, p. 2). Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
larvae had previously been confirmed feeding on Plantago lanceolata 
(narrow-leaf plantain) and P. maritima (sea plantain) in British 
Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001, p. 311), narrow-leaf plantain and 
Castilleja hispida (harsh paintbrush) in Washington (Char and Boersma 
1995, p. 29; Pyle 2002, p. 311; Severns and Grosboll 2011, p. 4), and 
exclusively on narrow-leaf plantain in Oregon (Dornfeld 1980, p. 73; 
Ross 2008, pers. comm.; Severns and Warren 2008, p. 476). In 2012, the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly was documented preferentially 
ovipositing on the threatened Castilleja levisecta (golden paintbrush) 
in studies conducted in Washington, and in 2013, Castilleja levisecta 
was subsequently observed being utilized as a larval host plant in both 
Washington and Oregon (Kaye 2013; Aubrey 2013, in litt.), as originally 
hypothesized by Dr. Robert Pyle (Pyle 2002, p. 311; Pyle 2007, pers. 
comm.).

Species Information--Streaked Horned Lark

    Streaked horned lark is endemic to the Pacific Northwest 
(historically found in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon; Altman 
2011, p. 196) and is a subspecies of the wide-ranging horned lark 
(Eremophila alpestris). Horned larks are small, ground-dwelling birds, 
approximately 6-8 inches (in) (16-20 centimeters (cm)) in length 
(Beason 1995, p. 2). Adults are pale brown, but shades of brown vary 
geographically among the subspecies. The male's face has a yellow wash 
in most subspecies. Adults have a black bib, black whisker marks, black 
``horns'' (feather tufts that can be raised or lowered), and black tail 
feathers with white margins (Beason 1995, p. 2). Juveniles lack the 
black face pattern and are varying shades of gray, from almost white to 
almost black with a silver-speckled back (Beason 1995, p. 2). The 
streaked horned lark has a dark brown back, yellowish underparts, a 
walnut brown nape, and yellow eyebrow stripe and throat (Beason 1995, 
p. 4). This subspecies is conspicuously more yellow beneath and darker 
on the back than almost all other subspecies of horned lark. The 
combination of small size, dark brown back, and yellow underparts 
distinguishes this subspecies from all adjacent forms.
Taxonomy and Species Description
    The horned lark is a bird found throughout the northern hemisphere 
(Beason 1995, p. 1); it is the only true lark (Family Alaudidae, Order 
Passeriformes) native to North America (Beason 1995, p. 1). There are 
42 subspecies of horned lark worldwide (Clements et al. 2011, entire). 
Twenty-one subspecies of horned larks are found in North America; 15 
subspecies occur in western North America (Beason 1995, p. 4). 
Subspecies of horned larks are based primarily on differences in color, 
body size, and wing length. Molecular analysis has further borne out 
these morphological distinctions (Drovetski et al. 2005, p. 875). 
Western populations of horned larks are generally paler and smaller 
than eastern and northern populations (Beason 1995, p. 3). The streaked 
horned lark was first described as Otocorys alpestris strigata by 
Henshaw (1884, pp. 261-264, 267-268); the type locality was Fort 
Steilacoom, Washington (Henshaw 1884, p. 267). There are four other 
breeding subspecies of horned larks in Washington and Oregon: pallid 
horned lark (E. a. alpina), dusky horned lark (E. a. merrilli), Warner 
horned lark (E. a. lamprochroma), and Arctic horned lark (E. a. 
articola) (Marshall et al. 2003, p. 426; Wahl et al. 2005, p. 268). 
None of these other subspecies breed within the range of the streaked 
horned lark, but all four subspecies frequently overwinter in mixed 
species flocks in the Willamette Valley (Marshall et al. 2003, pp. 425-
427).
    Drovetski et al. (2005, p. 877) evaluated the genetic 
distinctiveness, conservation status, and level of genetic diversity of 
the streaked horned lark using the complete mitochondrial ND2 gene. 
Streaked horned larks were closely related to the California samples 
and only distantly related to the three closest localities (alpine 
Washington, eastern Washington, and Oregon). There was no evidence of 
immigration into the streaked horned lark's range from any of the 
sampled localities. Analyses indicate that the streaked horned lark 
population is well-differentiated and isolated from all other sampled 
localities, including coastal California, and has ``remarkably low 
genetic diversity'' (Drovetski et al. 2005, p. 875).
    Streaked horned lark is differentiated and isolated from all other 
sampled localities, and although it was ``. . . historically a part of 
a larger Pacific Coast lineage of horned larks, it has been evolving 
independently for some time and can be considered a distinct 
evolutionary unit'' (Drovetski et al. 2005, p. 880). Thus, genetic 
analyses support the subspecies designation for the streaked horned 
lark (Drovetski et al. 2005, p. 880), which has been considered a 
relatively well-defined subspecies based on physical (phenotypic) 
characteristics (Beason 1995, p. 4). The streaked horned lark is 
recognized as a valid subspecies by the Integrated Taxonomic 
Information System (ITIS 2012c). For more information on taxonomy, see 
the proposed rule published on October 11, 2012 (77 FR 61938).

[[Page 61457]]

Distribution

Historical Range and Distribution

    Streaked horned lark's breeding range historically extended from 
southern British Columbia, Canada, south through the Puget lowlands and 
outer coast of Washington, along the lower Columbia River, through the 
Willamette Valley, the Oregon coast and into the Umpqua and Rogue River 
Valleys of southwestern Oregon.
    British Columbia--Streaked horned lark was never considered common 
in British Columbia, but local breeding populations were known on 
Vancouver Island, in the Fraser River Valley, and near Vancouver 
International Airport (Campbell et al. 1997, p. 120; COSEWIC 2003, p. 
5). The population declined throughout the 20th century (COSEWIC 2003, 
pp. 13-14); breeding has not been confirmed since 1978, and the 
streaked horned lark is considered to be extirpated in British Columbia 
(COSEWIC 2003, p. 15). A single streaked horned lark was sighted on 
Vancouver Island in 2002 (COSEWIC 2003, p. 16).
    Washington--The first report of the streaked horned lark in the San 
Juan Islands, Washington, was in 1948 from Cattle Point (Goodge 1950, 
p. 28). There are breeding season records of streaked horned larks from 
San Juan and Lopez Islands in the 1950s and early 1960s (Retfalvi 1963, 
p. 13; Lewis and Sharpe 1987, pp. 148, 204), but the last record dates 
from 1962, when seven individuals were seen in July on San Juan Island 
at Cattle Point (Retfalvi 1963, p. 13). The WDFW conducted surveys in 
1999, in the San Juan Islands (Rogers 1999, pp. 3-4). Suitable nesting 
habitat was visually searched and a tape recording of streaked horned 
lark calls was used to elicit responses and increase the chance of 
detections (Rogers 1999, p. 4). In 2000, MacLaren and Cummins (in 
Stinson 2005, p. 63) surveyed several sites recommended by Rogers 
(1999), including Cattle Point and Lime Kiln Point on San Juan Island. 
No larks were detected in the San Juan Islands during either survey 
effort (Rogers 1999, p. 4; Stinson 2005, p. 63).
    There are a few historical records of streaked horned larks on the 
outer coast of Washington near Lake Quinault, the Quinault River and 
the Humptulips River in the 1890s (Jewett et al. 1953, p. 438; Rogers 
2000, p. 26). More recent records reported larks at Leadbetter Point 
and Graveyard Spit in Pacific County in the 1960s and 1970s (Rogers 
2000, p. 26). Surveys conducted between 1999 and 2004 found larks at 
Leadbetter Point, Graveyard Spit, Damon Point and Midway Beach on the 
Outer Coast (Stinson 2005, p. 63).
    There are scattered records of streaked horned larks in the 
northern Puget Trough, including sightings in Skagit and Whatcom 
Counties in the mid-20th century (Altman 2011, p. 201). The last 
recorded sighting of a streaked horned lark in the northern Puget 
Trough was at the Bellingham Airport in 1962 (Stinson 2005, p. 52).
    Over a century ago, the streaked horned lark was described as a 
common summer resident in the prairies of the Puget Sound region in 
Washington (Bowles 1898, p. 53; Altman 2011, p. 201). Larks were 
considered common in the early 1950s ``in the prairie country south of 
Tacoma'' and had been observed on the tide flats south of Seattle 
(Jewett et al. 1953, p. 438). By the mid-1990s, only a few scattered 
breeding populations existed on the south Puget Sound on remnant 
prairies and near airports (Altman 2011, p. 201).
    There are sporadic records of streaked horned larks along the 
Columbia River. Sightings on islands near Portland, Oregon, date back 
to the early 1900s (Rogers 2000, p. 27). A number of old reports of 
streaked horned larks from the Columbia River east of the Cascade 
Mountains have been re-examined, and have been recognized as the 
subspecies Eremophila alpestris merrilli (Rogers 2000, p. 27; Stinson 
2005, p. 51). On the lower Columbia River, it is probable that streaked 
horned larks breed only as far east as Clark County, Washington, and 
Multnomah County, Oregon (Roger 2000, p. 27; Stinson 2005, p. 51).
    Oregon--Streaked horned lark's historical range extends south 
through the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where it was considered 
abundant and a common summer resident over a hundred years ago (Johnson 
1880, p. 636; Anthony 1886, p. 166). In the 1940s, the streaked horned 
lark was described as a common permanent resident in the southern 
Willamette Valley (Gullion 1951, p. 141). By the 1990s, the streaked 
horned lark was called uncommon in the Willamette Valley, nesting 
locally in small numbers in large open fields (Gilligan et al. 1994, p. 
205; Altman 1999, p. 18). In the early 2000s, a population of more than 
75 breeding pairs was found at the Corvallis Municipal Airport, making 
this the largest population of streaked horned larks known (Moore 2008, 
p. 15).
    Streaked horned lark, while occasionally present, was never 
reported to be more than uncommon on the Oregon coast. The streaked 
horned lark was described as an uncommon and local summer resident all 
along the coast on sand spits (Gilligan et al. 1994, p. 205); a few 
nonbreeding season records exist for the coastal counties of Clatsop, 
Tillamook, Coos, and Curry (Gabrielson and Jewett 1940, p. 403). Small 
numbers of streaked horned larks were known to breed at the South Jetty 
of the Columbia River in Clatsop County, but the site was abandoned in 
the 1980s (Gilligan et al. 1994, p. 205). There are no recent 
occurrence records from the Oregon coast.
    In the early 1900s, the streaked horned lark was considered a 
common permanent resident of the Umpqua and Rogue River Valleys 
(Gabrielson and Jewett 1940, p. 402). The last confirmed breeding 
record in the Rogue Valley was in 1976 (Marshall et al. 2003, p. 425). 
There are no recent reports of streaked horned larks in the Umpqua 
Valley (Gilligan et al. 1994, p. 205; Marshall et al. 2003, p. 425).
Current Range and Distribution
    Breeding Range--Streaked horned lark has been extirpated as a 
breeding subspecies throughout much of its range, including all of its 
former range in British Columbia, the San Juan Islands, the northern 
Puget Trough, the Washington coast north of Grays Harbor, the Oregon 
coast, and the Rogue and Umpqua Valleys in southwestern Oregon (Pearson 
& Altman 2005, pp. 4-5).
    The current range of the streaked horned lark can be divided into 
three regions: (1) The south Puget Sound in Washington; (2) the 
Washington coast and lower Columbia River islands (including dredge 
spoil deposition sites near the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon); 
and (3) the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
    In the south Puget Sound, the streaked horned lark is found in 
Mason, Pierce, and Thurston Counties, Washington (Rogers 2000, p. 37; 
Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 23; Pearson et al. 2005a, p. 2; Anderson 
2009, p. 4). Recent studies have found that streaked horned larks 
currently breed on six sites in the south Puget Sound. Four of these 
sites (13th Division Prairie, Gray Army Airfield, McChord Field, and 
91st Division Prairie) are on JBLM. Small populations of larks also 
breed at the Olympia Regional Airport and the Port of Shelton's 
Sanderson Field (airport) (Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 23; Pearson et 
al. 2008, p. 3).
    On the Washington coast, there are four known breeding sites: (1) 
Damon Point; (2) Midway Beach; (3) Graveyard Spit; and (4) Leadbetter 
Point in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. On the lower Columbia 
River, streaked horned larks breed on several of the sandy

[[Page 61458]]

islands downstream of Portland, Oregon. Recent surveys have documented 
breeding streaked horned larks on Rice, Miller Sands Spit, Pillar Rock, 
Welch, Tenasillahe, Whites/Browns, Wallace, Crims, and Sandy Islands in 
Wahkiakum and Cowlitz Counties in Washington, and Columbia and Clatsop 
Counties in Oregon (Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 23; Anderson 2009, p. 
4; Lassen 2011, in litt.). The Columbia River forms the border between 
Washington and Oregon; some of the islands occur wholly in Oregon or 
Washington, and some are bisected by the State line. Larks also breed 
in Portland (Multnomah County, Oregon) at suitable sites near the 
Columbia River. These include an open field at the Rivergate Industrial 
Complex and the Southwest Quad at Portland International Airport; both 
sites are owned by the Port of Portland, and were created with dredged 
materials (Moore 2011, pp. 9-12).
    In the Willamette Valley, streaked horned larks breed in Benton, 
Clackamas, Lane, Linn, Marion, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill Counties. 
Larks are most abundant in the southern part of the Willamette Valley. 
The largest known population of larks is resident at Corvallis 
Municipal Airport in Benton County (Moore 2008. p. 15); other resident 
populations occur at the Baskett Slough, William L. Finley, and Ankeny 
units of the Service's Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge 
Complex (Moore 2008, pp. 8-9) and on Oregon Department of Fish and 
Wildlife's (ODFW's) E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area (ODFW 2008, p. 18). 
Breeding populations also occur at municipal airports in the valley 
(including McMinnville, Salem, and Eugene) (Moore 2008, pp. 14-17). 
Much of the Willamette Valley is private agricultural land, and has not 
been surveyed for streaked horned larks, except along public road 
margins. There are numerous other locations on private and municipal 
lands on which streaked horned larks have been observed in the 
Willamette Valley, particularly in the southern valley (Linn, Polk, and 
Benton Counties) (eBird 2013, ebird.org). In 2008, a large population 
of streaked horned larks colonized a wetland and prairie restoration 
site on M-DAC Farms, a privately owned parcel in Linn County; as the 
vegetation at the site matured in the following 2 years, the site 
became less suitable for larks, and the population declined (Moore and 
Kotaich 2010, pp. 11-13). This is likely a common pattern, as breeding 
streaked horned larks opportunistically shift sites as habitat becomes 
available among private agricultural lands in the Willamette Valley 
(Moore 2008, pp. 9-11).
    Wintering Range--Pearson et al. (2005b, p. 2) found that the 
majority of streaked horned larks winter in the Willamette Valley (72 
percent) and on the islands in the lower Columbia River (20 percent); 
the rest winter on the Washington coast (8 percent) or in the south 
Puget Sound (1 percent). In the winter, most streaked horned larks that 
breed in the south Puget Sound migrate south to the Willamette Valley 
or west to the Washington coast; streaked horned larks that breed on 
the Washington coast either remain on the coast or migrate south to the 
Willamette Valley; birds that breed on the lower Columbia River islands 
remain on the islands or migrate to the Washington coast; and birds 
that breed in the Willamette Valley remain there over the winter 
(Pearson et al. 2005b, pp. 5-6). Streaked horned larks spend the winter 
in large groups of mixed subspecies of horned larks in the Willamette 
Valley, and in smaller flocks along the lower Columbia River and 
Washington Coast (Pearson et al. 2005b, p. 7; Pearson and Altman 2005, 
p. 7). During the winter of 2008, a mixed flock of over 300 horned 
larks was detected at the Corvallis Municipal Airport (Moore 2011a, 
pers. comm.).
Population Estimates and Current Status
    Data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) indicate 
that most grassland-associated birds, including the horned lark, have 
declined across their ranges in the past three decades (Sauer et al. 
2012, pp. 7-9). The BBS can provide population trend data only for 
those species with sufficient sample sizes for analyses. There is 
insufficient data in the BBS for a rangewide analysis of the streaked 
horned lark population trend (Altman 2011, p. 214); however, see below 
for additional analysis of the BBS data for the Willamette Valley. An 
analysis of recent data from a variety of sources concludes that the 
streaked horned lark has been extirpated from the Georgia Depression 
(British Columbia, Canada), the Oregon coast, and the Rogue and Umpqua 
Valleys (Altman 2011, p. 213); this analysis estimates the current 
rangewide population of streaked horned larks to be about 1,170-1,610 
individuals (Altman 2011, p. 213).
    In the south Puget Sound, approximately 150-170 streaked horned 
larks breed at 6 sites (Altman 2011, p. 213). Recent studies have found 
that larks have very low nest success in Washington (Pearson et al. 
2008, p. 8); comparisons with other ground-nesting birds in the same 
prairie habitats in the south Puget Sound showed that streaked horned 
larks had significantly lower values in all measures of reproductive 
success (Anderson 2010, p. 16). Estimates of population growth rate 
([lambda], lambda) that include vital rates from nesting areas in the 
south Puget Sound, Washington coast, and Whites Island in the lower 
Columbia River indicate streaked horned larks have abnormally low vital 
rates, which are significantly lower than the vital rates of the arctic 
horned lark (Camfield et al. 2010, p. 276). One study estimated that 
the population of streaked horned larks in Washington was declining by 
40 percent per year ([lambda] = 0.61  0.10 SD), apparently 
due to a combination of low survival and fecundity rates (Pearson et 
al., 2008, p. 12). More recent analyses of territory mapping at 4 sites 
in the south Puget Sound found that the total number of breeding 
streaked horned lark territories decreased from 77 territories in 2004, 
to 42 territories in 2007, a decline of over 45 percent in 3 years 
(Camfield et al. 2011, p. 8). Pearson et al. (2008, p. 14) concluded 
that there is a high probability of south Puget Sound population loss 
in the future given the low estimates of fecundity and adult survival 
along with high emigration out of the Puget Sound.
    On the Washington coast and Columbia River islands, there are about 
120-140 breeding larks (Altman 2011, p. 213). Data from the Washington 
coast and Whites Islands were included in the population growth rate 
study discussed above; populations at these sites appear to be 
declining by 40 percent per year (Pearson et al. 2008, p. 12). 
Conversely, nest success appears to be very high at the Portland 
industrial sites (Rivergate and the Southwest Quad). In 2010, nearly 
all nests successfully fledged young (Moore 2011, p. 13); only 1 of 10 
monitored nests lost young to predation (Moore 2011, pp. 11-12).
    There are about 900-1,300 breeding streaked horned larks in the 
Willamette Valley (Altman 2011, p. 213). The largest known population 
of streaked horned larks breeds at the Corvallis Municipal Airport; 
depending on the management conducted at the airport and the 
surrounding grass fields each year, the population has been as high as 
100 breeding pairs (Moore and Kotaich 2010, pp. 13-15). In 2007, a 
large (580-ac (235-ha)) wetland and native prairie restoration project 
was initiated at M-DAC Farms on a former rye grass field in Linn County 
(Cascade Pacific RC&D 2012, p. 1). Large, semipermanent wetlands were 
created at the site, and the prairie portions were burned and

[[Page 61459]]

treated with herbicides (Moore and Kotaich 2010, pp. 11-13). These 
conditions created excellent quality ephemeral habitat for streaked 
horned larks, and the site was used by about 75 breeding pairs in 2008 
(Moore and Kotaich 2010, p. 12), making M-DAC the second-largest known 
breeding population of streaked horned larks that year. M-DAC had high 
use again in 2009, but as vegetation at the site matured, the number of 
breeding larks has declined, likely shifting to other agricultural 
habitats (Moore and Kotaich 2010, p. 13).
    We do not have population trend data in Oregon that is comparable 
to the study in Washington by Pearson et al. (2008, entire); however, 
research on breeding streaked horned larks indicates that nest success 
in the southern Willamette Valley is higher than in Washington (Moore 
2011b, pers. comm.). The best information on trends in the Willamette 
Valley comes from surveys by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 
(ODFW); the agency conducted surveys for grassland-associated birds, 
including the streaked horned lark, in 1996 and again in 2008 (Altman 
1999, p. 2; Myers and Kreager 2010, p. 2). Point count surveys were 
conducted at 544 stations in the Willamette Valley (Myers and Kreager 
2010, p. 2); over the 12-year period between the surveys, measures of 
relative abundance of streaked horned larks increased slightly from 
1996 to 2008, according to this report. Both detections at point count 
stations and within regions showed moderate increases (3 percent and 6 
percent, respectively) (Myers and Kreager 2010, p. 11). Population 
numbers decreased slightly in the northern Willamette Valley and 
increased slightly in the middle and southern portions of the valley 
(Myers and Kreager 2010, p. 11).
    Data from the BBS may provide additional insight into the trend of 
the streaked horned lark population in the Willamette Valley. Although 
the BBS does not track bird counts by subspecies, the streaked horned 
lark is the only subspecies of horned lark that breeds in the Oregon 
portion of the Northern Pacific Rainforest Bird Conservation Region 
(BCR); therefore it is reasonable to assume that counts of horned larks 
from the breeding season in the Willamette Valley are actually counts 
of the streaked horned lark. The BBS data regularly detect horned larks 
on several routes in the Willamette Valley, and counts from these 
routes show that horned larks in this BCR have been declining since 
1960s, with an estimated annual trend of -4.6 percent (95 percent 
confidence intervals -6.9, -2.4) (Sauer et al. 2012, p. 4). The U.S. 
Geological Survey (USGS), which manages the BBS data, recommends 
caution when analyzing these data due to the small sample size, high 
variance, and potential for observer bias in the raw BBS data.
    The BBS data from the Willamette Valley indicate that horned larks 
(as mentioned above, the BBS tracks only the full species) have been 
declining for decades, which is coincident with the restrictions on 
grass seed field burning imposed by the Oregon Department of 
Agriculture (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon 
Department of Agriculture 2011, p. 1). Prior to 1990, about 250,000 ac 
(101,170 ha) of grass seed fields in the Willamette Valley were burned 
each year. Public health and safety issues led the Oregon legislature 
to order gradual reductions in field burning beginning in 1991. By 
2009, field burning was essentially banned in the Willamette Valley 
(Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of 
Agriculture 2011, p. 1). We believe that some of the observed declines 
lark detections in the BBS data are attributable to the reduction of 
highly suitable burned habitats due to the field burning ban. Since the 
ban is now fully in effect, the decline in BBS observations of streaked 
horned larks is not expected to continue at the previously noted rate.
    We do not have conclusive data on population trends throughout the 
streaked horned lark's range, but the rapidly declining population on 
the south Puget Sound suggests that the range of the streaked horned 
lark may still be contracting.
Range Contraction
    Streaked horned lark has experienced a substantial contraction of 
its range; it has been extirpated from all formerly documented 
locations at the northern end of its range (British Columbia, and the 
San Juan Islands and northern Puget Trough of Washington), the Oregon 
coast, and the southern edge of its range (Rogue and Umpqua Valleys of 
Oregon). The streaked horned lark's current range appears to have been 
reduced to less than half the size of its historical range in the last 
100 years. The pattern of range contractions for other Pacific 
Northwest species (e.g., western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)) shows 
a loss of populations in the northern part of the range, with healthier 
populations persisting in the southern part of the range (Altman 2011, 
p. 214). The streaked horned lark is an exception to this pattern--its 
range has contracted from both the north and the south simultaneously 
(Altman 2011, p. 215).
Habitat
    Historically, nesting habitat was found on grasslands, estuaries, 
and sandy beaches in British Columbia; in dune habitats along the coast 
of Washington; in western Washington and western Oregon prairies; and 
on the sandy beaches and spits along the Columbia and Willamette 
Rivers. Today, the streaked horned lark nests in a broad range of 
habitats, including native prairies, coastal dunes, fallow and active 
agricultural fields, wetland mudflats, sparsely vegetated edges of 
grass fields, recently planted Christmas tree farms with extensive bare 
ground, fields denuded by overwintering Canada geese, gravel roads or 
gravel shoulders of lightly traveled roads, airports, and dredge 
deposition sites in the lower Columbia River (Altman 1999, p. 18; 
Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 5; Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 15; Moore 
2008, pp. 9-10, 12-14, 16). Wintering streaked horned larks use 
habitats that are very similar to breeding habitats (Pearson et al. 
2005b, p. 8).
    Habitat used by larks is generally flat with substantial areas of 
bare ground and sparse low-stature vegetation primarily comprised of 
grasses and forbs (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 27). Suitable habitat is 
generally 16-17 percent bare ground, and may be even more open at sites 
selected for nesting (Altman 1999, p. 18; Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 
27). Vegetation height is generally less than 13 in (33 cm) (Altman 
1999, p. 18; Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 27). Larks eat a wide variety 
of seeds and insects (Beason 1995, p. 6), and appear to select habitats 
based on the structure of the vegetation rather than the presence of 
any specific food plants (Moore 2008, p. 19). A key attribute of 
habitat used by larks is open landscape context. Our data indicate that 
sites used by larks are generally found in open (i.e., flat, treeless) 
landscapes of 300 ac (120 ha) or more (Converse et al. 2010, p. 21). 
Some patches with the appropriate characteristics (i.e., bare ground, 
low stature vegetation) may be smaller in size if the adjacent areas 
provide the required open landscape context; this situation is common 
in agricultural habitats and on sites next to water. For example, many 
of the sites used by streaked horned larks on the islands in the 
Columbia River are small (less than 100 ac (40 ha)), but are adjacent 
to open water, which provides the open landscape context needed. 
Streaked horned lark populations are found at many airports within the 
subspecies'

[[Page 61460]]

range, because airport maintenance requirements provide the desired 
open landscape context and short vegetation structure.
    Although streaked horned larks use a wide variety of habitats, 
populations are vulnerable because the habitats used are often 
ephemeral or subject to frequent human disturbance. Ephemeral habitats 
include bare ground in agricultural fields and wetland mudflats; 
habitats subject to frequent human disturbance include mowed fields at 
airports, managed road margins, agricultural crop fields, and disposal 
sites for dredge material (Altman 1999, p. 19). It is important to note 
the key role of anthropogenically maintained landscapes in the process 
of creating and maintaining habitat for the streaked horned lark; 
without large-scale, manmade disturbance (e.g., burning, mowing, 
cropping, and deposition of dredge spoils), available habitat would 
decrease rapidly, but these same activities can threaten individuals 
when they are at sensitive life-history stages.
Biology
    Horned larks forage on the ground in low vegetation or on bare 
ground (Beason 1995, p. 6); adults feed mainly on grass and forb seeds, 
but feed insects to their young (Beason 1995, p. 6). In the Puget 
lowlands in Washington, streaked horned larks have been observed 
selectively foraging on the spore capsules of Polytrichum juniperinum 
(juniper haircap moss) during the time before grasses and forbs have 
set seed and insects become plentiful (Martin 2013, in litt.; Wolf 
2013, in litt.). A study of winter diet selection found that streaked 
horned larks in the Willamette Valley eat seeds of introduced weedy 
grasses and forbs, focusing on the seed source that is most abundant 
(Moore 2008b, p. 9). In this Willamette Valley study, a variety of 
grasses (Digitaria sanguinalis (large crabgrass), Panicum capillare 
(witchgrass), and Sporobulus sp. (dropseed)), unidentified grasses 
(Poaceae), and forbs (Chenopodium album (common lambsquarters), 
Amaranthus retroflexus (redroot pigweed), Trifolium arvense (rabbitfoot 
clover) and Kickxia sp. (cancerweed)) were common in the winter diet of 
the streaked horned lark (Moore 2008b, p. 16).
    Streaked horned larks have a strong affinity for recently burned 
habitats. An experimental study at JBLM found that larks had a highly 
significant preference for burned versus unburned fields, and in the 
breeding season following a fire, lark abundance was significantly 
higher on the burned plots (Pearson et al. 2005a, p. 14). The decline 
of the streaked horned lark population in the Willamette Valley is 
correlated with the reduction in agricultural field burning. Prior to 
the mid-1980s, as much as 250,000 ac (101,000 ha) of grass seed fields 
were burned each year in the Willamette Valley; in the 1990s, the State 
imposed progressive reductions in field burning, until in 2012, 
virtually no burning was allowed (Oregon Department of Environmental 
Quality and Oregon Department of Agriculture 2011, p. 1).
    Horned larks form pairs in the spring (Beason 1995, p. 11). Altman 
(1999, p. 11) used a small sample (n=3) of streaked horned lark 
territories in the Willamette Valley to give a mean territory size of 
1.9 ac (0.77 ha) with a range of 1.5 to 2.5 ac (0.61 to 1.0 ha). Horned 
larks create nests in shallow depressions in the ground and line them 
with soft vegetation (Beason 1995, p. 12). Nest sites are selected from 
suitable locations within male mating territories, which are typically 
sparsely vegetated, are rockier, and have more annual grasses than 
nearby areas (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 19). Female horned larks 
construct the nest without help from the male (Beason 1995, p. 12). 
Streaked horned larks establish their nests in areas of extensive bare 
ground, and nests are almost always placed on the north side of a clump 
of vegetation or another object such as root balls or soil clumps 
(Pearson and Hopey 2005 p. 23; Moore and Kotaich 2010, p. 18). Studies 
from Washington sites (the open coast, Puget lowlands, and Columbia 
River islands) have found strong natal fidelity to nesting sites--that 
is, streaked horned larks return each year to the place they were born 
(Pearson et al. 2008, p. 11).
    The nesting season for streaked horned larks begins in mid-April 
and ends in late August (Pearson and Hopey 2004, p. 11; Moore 2011, p. 
32; Wolf 2011, p. 5). Clutches range from 1 to 5 eggs, with a mean of 3 
eggs (Pearson and Hopey 2004, p. 12). After the first nesting attempt 
in April, streaked horned larks will often re-nest in late June or 
early July (Pearson and Hopey 2004, p. 11). Young streaked horned larks 
leave the nest by the end of the first week after hatching, and are 
cared for by the parents until they are about 4 weeks old, when they 
become independent (Beason 1995, p. 15).
    Nest success studies (i.e., the proportion of nests that result in 
at least one fledged chick) in streaked horned larks report highly 
variable results. Nest success on the Puget lowlands of Washington is 
low, with only 28 percent of nests successfully fledging young (Pearson 
and Hopey 2004, p. 14; Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 16). According to 
reports from sites in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, nest success has 
varied from 23 to 60 percent depending on the site (Altman 1999, p. 1; 
Moore and Kotaich 2010, p. 23). At one site in Portland, Oregon, Moore 
(2011, p. 11) found 100 percent nest success.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the proposed rule published on October 11, 2012 (77 FR 61938), 
we requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the 
proposal by December 10, 2012. We also contacted appropriate Federal 
and State agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other 
interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. 
Newspaper notices inviting general public comment were published in the 
Olympian in Washington and in the Statesman Journal in Oregon during 
the reopening of the public comment period following our Federal 
Register publication that made available the draft economic analysis 
for the proposed critical habitat designations (April 3, 2013; 78 FR 
20074). As also announced in that April 3, 2013, document, we held a 
public hearing in Olympia, Washington, on April 18, 2013, and held 
public informational workshops in Lacey, Washington, on April 16, 2013 
(two workshops), and in Salem, Oregon, on April 17, 2013.
    During the two comment periods for the proposed rule, we received 
nearly 100 comment letters addressing either the proposed listing or 
the proposed critical habitat (or both) for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and the streaked horned lark. During the April 18, 2013, 
public hearing, 34 individuals or organizations made comments on the 
proposed rule. All substantive information provided during comment 
periods has either been incorporated directly into this final 
determination or is addressed below.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinion from four knowledgeable 
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with 
the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and its habitats, biological needs, 
and threats, and from three knowledgeable individuals with scientific 
expertise that included familiarity with the streaked horned lark and 
its habitats, biological needs, and threats. We received responses from 
two of the peer reviewers on the proposed listing of the Taylor's 
checkerspot

[[Page 61461]]

butterfly. Both peer reviewers felt that the proposed rule was a 
thorough description of the status of the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and commented that they considered the proposed rule well 
researched and well written, and one commenter stated that the rule 
comprehensively represented the current scientific knowledge for the 
taxon. Both peer reviewers had several substantive comments on the 
proposed listing of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, which we 
address below. We received responses from three of the peer reviewers 
on the proposed listing of the streaked horned lark. Two of the peer 
reviewers felt that the proposed rule was a thorough description of the 
status of the streaked horned lark, and stated that we had used the 
best available science in reaching our conclusions; one peer reviewer 
felt that we had failed to use available information on the trend in 
population numbers of the streaked horned lark in the Willamette Valley 
(available from the Breeding Bird Survey database), and provided that 
data for our consideration. Two peer reviewers had several substantive 
comments on the proposed listing of the streaked horned lark, which we 
address below. Our requests for peer review are limited to a request 
for review of the merits of the scientific information in our 
documents; if peer reviewers have volunteered their personal opinions 
on matters not directly relevant to the science of our status 
assessment, we do not respond to those comments here.

Comments From Peer Reviewers

Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly
    (1) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that the taxonomy section of 
the proposed rule was incomplete with regard to its description of the 
full species Euphydryas editha (Edith's checkerspot butterfly). He 
states the taxonomy of the full species E. editha is more complicated 
than we summarized. However, the peer reviewer added that despite the 
incomplete taxonomic treatment for the full species E. editha, the 
taxonomic treatment of E. editha taylori in the proposed rule is 
consistent with the most recent literature.
    Our response: For the purpose of a listing document, we provide a 
non-technical physical and biological description of the species, and a 
taxonomic description of the entity we intend to list, which is 
subspecies Euphydryas editha taylori in this case. We typically do not 
describe the full species from which the subspecies was derived.
    (2) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that, because of the 
discontinuous distribution of E. editha taylori, further taxonomic 
evaluation utilizing molecular genetics techniques would better 
determine the amount of genetic divergence within and between known 
populations.
    Our response: The Service agrees that having a complete genetic 
evaluation is beneficial when determining differences within and 
between broadly distributed species. We are currently collaborating 
with U.S. Forest Service geneticists and their Genetics Laboratory 
(Placerville, California), and other conservation partners on 
collecting tissues and using established genetic markers to analyze the 
genetic structure of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and its closely 
related subspecies. The objective is to determine the genetic identity 
of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. At this time, the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly is a declining taxon found only on a few 
declining habitat patches throughout the subspecies' range, and the 
statute directs us to make our listing determination based upon the 
best scientific data available at the time of our evaluation.
    (3) Comment: One peer reviewer mentioned that during mild winters 
the adult flight season for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly can 
begin as early as March 31 (as in 2005, although this was an early 
season outlier). For example, the peer reviewer states that he 
personally observed an adult on March 31, and that adults were still in 
flight in late April in Oregon that year (2005).
    Our response: We agree and consider the adult flight period for the 
subspecies to be variable from year to year, primarily dependent upon 
the local annual weather patterns during the late winter, and early 
spring of the specific flight year. We discuss in this final rule an 
example of adult Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in flight as late as 
the first week of July at the Olympic Peninsula sites, which are 
located at higher elevation than any other location within the 
subspecies' range.
    (4) Comment: One peer reviewer commented that the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly most likely exhibited and persisted as a 
metapopulation composed of large and small populations that interacted 
within a larger landscape context, with frequent extinction and 
colonization events.
    Our response: We agree with the concept of a metapopulation 
structure for Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Small populations known 
only from small habitat patches may become extirpated; however, in a 
metapopulation structure, other closely situated populations may expand 
at the same time others are failing. By allowing recolonization of 
habitat patches where extirpation has taken place, metapopulation 
structure supports the presence of the (sub)species on a larger 
landscape, while they are still found in distinct separate patches of 
habitat. Without metapopulation structure, the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly will likely become extirpated at several of the locations 
where it is currently is found.
    (5) Comment: One peer reviewer supports our ideas about active 
management to maintain early seral conditions in occupied habitats and 
about the maintenance of dispersal corridors between areas having the 
most dense populations of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. The peer 
reviewer cautions that management treatments to remove encroaching 
tree, shrubs, and nonnative grasses still does not guarantee the 
persistence of the subspecies on areas designated as critical habitat. 
He states that populations of E. editha are well known to appear and 
disappear over large areas without any obvious explanation.
    Our response: We agree with the importance of active management, 
and that without regular management activities to sustain ecosystem 
processes, we would quickly lose small populations where we are working 
to enhance and maintain Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat. As 
noted in this rule, the lack of active management, or the ecosystem 
processes to maintain early seral conditions, is a threat to the 
subspecies through the loss of habitat, which is quickly rendered 
unsuitable and becomes unavailable for the butterfly's use, leading to 
extirpation.
    (6) Comment: One peer reviewer took issue with our use of the word 
``collection'' of butterflies for scientific studies. He suggests there 
is no evidence that collection of specimens has contributed to the 
decline of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly.
    Our response: We agree that we inappropriately used this term when 
we meant to discuss ``capture'' as it is directly related to ``mark, 
release, and recapture'' studies. We have made this change in this 
final rule, and replaced any mention of the term ``collection'' with 
``capture,'' except where we are discussing a collection of specimens.
    (7) Comment: One peer reviewer expressed concern about the 
violations of section 9 of the Act that prohibit, ``Unauthorized 
collecting, handling, possessing, selling, delivering, carrying or 
transporting of the species, including

[[Page 61462]]

export and import 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.'' Given the 
need for genetic and molecular phylogenetic studies of E. editha 
taylori, he disagreed with the idea of restricting the movement of 
specimens that are less than 100 years old. He questions how specimens 
that have been legally collected as vouchers and preserved for the 
purpose of future genetic, molecular, and morphological studies would 
become illegal if the species were to be listed as endangered. He 
strongly encourages the Service to allow the act of possessing and 
transporting specimens legally obtained prior to the listing of the 
species in 2013, in order to facilitate and contribute to the 
scientific study of the subspecies.
    Our response: The proposed rule overstated the prohibitions in 
section 9 of the Act. After listing takes effect, mere possession of a 
specimen, provided the specimen was not collected in violation of the 
Act, is not prohibited, and interstate transportation of such a 
specimen for the purpose of genetic testing is not prohibited as long 
as it does not occur in the course of a commercial activity. This 
description of the prohibitions has been corrected in this final rule.
    (8) Comment: One peer reviewer suggested that we include additional 
information in our section on the nectar foods used in Oregon by the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. However, the peer reviewer incorrectly 
stated we should better describe the use of Fraxinus (Oregon ash), as 
the primary nectar source available to the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly in Oregon. We believe the reviewer mistakenly used the term 
Fraxinus, when meaning to describe Fragaria virginiana (wild 
strawberry). Another commenter pointed out that Taylor's checkerspot 
butterflies have been observed using dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) 
as a nectar source, which he believes is an indicator of more general 
habitat requirements of this subspecies.
    Our response: We did correctly discuss the use of Fragaria 
virginiana, not Fraxinus, as it is the most widespread of nectar 
resources in Oregon, and Fragaria virginiana is readily used by the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly at all locations in Oregon. We have 
added Plectritis congesta, Amelanchier alnifolia, and Calochortus 
tolmiei as nectar resources at sites where each are found, with C. 
tolmiei found only in Oregon. Not all nectar sources potentially used 
by the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly are equal. Although some adult 
butterflies may be observed using what appears to be a general nectar 
source (e.g., dandelion), it may not be the optimal resource, only what 
is available. Individual butterflies may be relegated to using a less-
than-optimal nectar source because that source now dominates a 
particular site. It is unknown whether the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly could survive solely on dandelion as a nectar source. 
Additionally, nectar sources are only one determinant in characterizing 
the overall habitat requirements for this subspecies.
    (9) Comment: One peer reviewer commented that the Service should 
consider the increased disease pressure on populations of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly during overwintering due to the predicted 
increase in winter precipitation. The reviewer stated that increased 
precipitation as a general rule may have deleterious impacts to 
lepidopteran (butterfly) larvae. The commenter also stated that there 
appears to be no information available on the incidence of disease and 
its impacts to phenology among E. e. taylori larvae.
    Our response: We agree with both of these comments. We did not 
consider increased pressure, or an increase in the incidence of disease 
due to the predicted increase in winter precipitation, in our threats 
analysis. We observed examples of the impacts of late winter inundation 
or frost events in occupied Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat as 
having a direct mortality effect to some populations, and how 
anecdotally, the population counts during those years (2009, 2010) at 
those population centers were lower.
    (10) Comment: One peer reviewer commented on how larvae of 
Euphydryas spp. are known to be able to respond to adverse 
environmental conditions by delaying development when host plants are 
limited or of poor quality, as the larvae may re-enter diapause for an 
additional 12 months. The reviewer stated that this is an adaptation to 
surviving in unreliable environments and will serve to mitigate against 
``phenological mismatch'' of the larvae and host plants.
    Our response: We agree that during poor weather years, populations 
of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly appear lower compared to other 
years, and we presume that E. e. taylori larvae have likely re-entered 
diapause. We have addressed re-entering diapause in the section of this 
final rule discussing the biology of the subspecies.
Streaked Horned Lark
    (11) Comment: One peer reviewer and several other commenters 
disagreed with our assessment of the status of the streaked horned lark 
as threatened rather than endangered. In our proposed rule, we stated 
that there was insufficient data in the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data 
to estimate a rangewide trend for the streaked horned lark. The peer 
reviewer referenced the trend analysis that is available via the BBS 
Web site for the Northern Pacific Rainforest Bird Conservation Region 
(BCR) for the horned lark; although data are not available at the 
subspecies level, he makes the assumption that as the streaked horned 
lark is the only breeding subspecies of the horned lark in western 
Oregon, and that horned lark counts from that BCR can be reasonably 
interpreted as counts of the streaked horned lark. From his analysis of 
the BBS data, he concludes that the Willamette Valley population of the 
streaked horned lark is declining at a rate of about 5 percent per 
year.
    In addition, the peer reviewer conducted his own analysis of five 
individual BBS routes in the Willamette Valley. He found that two 
routes had increasing trends (Scio and Salem), and three had declining 
trends (Adair, Dayton, and McMinnville). He states that larks were 
first detected on BBS routes in the Willamette Valley in 1971, and 
their numbers began declining in 1989. He used a 5-year moving average 
to show a ``smoothed out'' presentation of the data. He particularly 
focused on the Adair BBS route, which had the most significant 
declining trend; in three 5-year periods in the Adair BBS route data, 
the route had high numbers of larks in the 1970s, lower numbers in the 
late 1980s through early 1990s, and then substantially lower numbers in 
the 2000s. The peer reviewer concluded that the streaked horned lark 
population in the Willamette Valley has been declining steadily since 
the early 1990s.
    The peer reviewer asserted that our failure to examine the BBS data 
is highly relevant because one of the key factors used in the 
determination of threatened rather than endangered status was the 
perceived stability of lark populations in the Willamette Valley, based 
on the repeated ODFW roadside surveys in 1996 and 2008, and studies of 
lark populations at ``protected'' sites (William L. Finley National 
Wildlife Refuge and Corvallis Municipal Airport).
    Our response: In order to evaluate this new analysis of the 
Breeding Bird Survey data, we requested assistance from scientists at 
the USGS Patuxent

[[Page 61463]]

Wildlife Research Center, which manages the BBS data. USGS agreed with 
the assertion that the BBS analysis includes all subspecies of horned 
larks in the Northern Pacific Rainforest BCR, and consequently, with no 
other horned larks breeding in the area, that the trends for this BCR 
are equivalent to the trends for the streaked horned lark. However, in 
general, USGS indicated that the peer reviewer failed to acknowledge 
the high level of uncertainty of his conclusions given the small sample 
sizes, high variance, and potential for observer bias in the raw BBS 
data. USGS noted that the peer reviewer correctly described the 
patterns of population change shown in the BBS data, but USGS urges 
caution in the interpretation of trends with small sample sizes such as 
that available for the Northern Pacific Rainforest BCR. The BBS Web 
site guidelines for credibility indicate that this should be noted as a 
deficiency. USGS also pointed out that there is an indication of 
observer bias in the Adair route data, which the peer reviewer used as 
the strongest indicator of declining population. USGS notes that there 
is indeed a decline in numbers, but that the most dramatic declines 
occurred during the transition between the second and third observer on 
the route; when observer 3 took over after a gap of 14 years 
(1992-2006), markedly fewer streaked horned larks were observed. Given 
this information, it is difficult to ascertain how much of the observed 
decline is real, and how much of the apparent decline may be biased by 
a change in observers. Therefore, although the peer reviewer has 
provided us with an analysis that raises some questions about the 
population trend of the streaked horned lark in the Willamette Valley, 
we do not feel these data are sufficiently reliable to alter our 
conclusion regarding the status of the subspecies.
    We also note that the peer reviewer's analysis of the steady 
decline in streaked horned lark detections since the early 1990s 
correlates with the beginning of the field burning restrictions 
implemented by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, which we noted 
earlier in this document. Prior to 1990, about 250,000 ac (101,170 ha) 
of grass seed fields in the Willamette Valley were burned each year. 
Public health and safety issues (triggered by a catastrophic traffic 
accident on Interstate 5 caused by smoke from field burning that 
obscured the road, resulting in 7 deaths and 38 injuries) resulted in a 
decision by the Oregon legislature to order gradual reductions in field 
burning beginning in 1991. By 2009, field burning was essentially 
banned in the Willamette Valley, with the exception of a limited area 
in the northeastern portion of the valley, where the practice is 
allowed only for specific types of perennial grasses, or fields on 
highly erodible steep lands (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 
and Oregon Department of Agriculture 2011, p. 1). Another peer reviewer 
commented on the affinity of larks for burned areas, as evidenced by 
use of recently burned habitats at JBLM. We will pursue this issue in 
recovery planning for the streaked horned lark. We believe that some of 
the observed declines lark detections in the BBS data are attributable 
to the reduction of highly suitable burned habitats due to the field 
burning ban. As the ban is now fully in effect, the rate of decline as 
noted in BBS observations of streaked horned larks is not expected to 
continue at the previously noted rate.
    In summary, the peer reviewer presented new information about the 
declining population of streaked horned larks in the Willamette Valley, 
and we appreciate the reviewer's efforts to present us with an 
alternative analysis of the available data. This information provides a 
more complete picture of the status of the subspecies, but based upon 
our evaluation, with assistance from scientists at USGS who are expert 
in analysis of BBS data, we believe the streaked horned lark still 
meets the definition of threatened rather than endangered. The Act 
defines a threatened species as one which is likely to become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. An endangered species is defined as 
any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. Given that streaked horned larks 
still occur in many locations across a large area of the Willamette 
Valley, and that some of these sites harbor large populations, we agree 
that the streaked horned lark has declined and may be continuing to 
decline, but listing as threatened remains appropriate, as the best 
available scientific and commercial data do not indicate that 
extinction of the species is imminent.
    (12) Comment: One peer reviewer suggested that it would be useful 
to discuss the potential reasons that the Washington population of 
streaked horned larks appears to be declining and the Oregon population 
appears more stable. The peer reviewer noticed that three of the areas 
proposed as critical habitat in Oregon are on National Wildlife Refuges 
where they benefit from active management, and asked if there might 
also be some other sites in Oregon that are being managed for other 
species in a way that benefits streaked horned larks.
    Our response: We have augmented the discussion of the population 
trends in Oregon and Washington in the text of this final rule. As to 
the issue of why there are more streaked horned larks, or if the 
population trend is different in Oregon versus Washington, we do not 
have any additional information at this time to answer those questions. 
It may be that there is simply more open land in the Willamette Valley 
in Oregon, and the valley's large agricultural industry provides the 
frequent disturbance regime that creates the habitat structure needed 
by larks. We will evaluate these issues during the recovery planning 
process for the streaked horned lark.
    (13) Comment: One peer reviewer and one other commenter believed 
our approach to listing the streaked horned lark would not result in 
sufficient protections to acheive recovery. In particular, the peer 
reviewer believed that the combination of threatened status, our 
promulgation of a special rule for agricultural activities and wildlife 
hazard management at airports, and a somewhat limited critical habitat 
designation would result in inadequate protection for the streaked 
horned lark. The commenter stated that he believes we put too much 
effort put into alleviating potential conflicts with land managers 
rather than focusing on measures to ensure conservation of the streaked 
horned lark, and that this approach will be inadequate to move the 
species on a trajectory away from the need for listing.
    Our response: Our determination that the streaked horned lark is 
threatened rests on our application of the scientific data to the Act's 
definition of a threatened species, and not on our expectations about 
the best means to conserve the species. Regarding the reviewer's 
comment with respect to the proposed 4(d) special rule and proposed 
critical habitat, we believe it is important to recognize that listing, 
critical habitat designation, and section 4(d) of the Act are part of 
the suite of tools that the Service has available to conserve listed 
species, but do not in and of themselves conserve the species. Once a 
species is listed as either endangered or threatened, the Act provides 
many tools to advance the conservation of listed species; available 
tools include recovery planning under section 4 of the Act, interagency 
cooperation and consultation under section 7, grants to the states 
under section 6, and safe harbor agreements

[[Page 61464]]

and habitat conservation plans under section 10. The streaked horned 
lark is an unusual case in that nearly all of its existing habitats 
have been created by industrial land uses (e.g., agriculture, airport 
maintenance, dredge spoil disposal), in which creation of lark habitat 
is not the intended purpose. Long experience in working with commercial 
and industrial partners have shown us that a more collaborative 
approach, rather than a strictly regulatory one, will be more effective 
in recovering streaked horned larks on private lands. We expect that 
the conservation program for the streaked horned lark will take 
advantage of all of the creativity and flexibility offered by the Act.
    (14) Comment: One peer reviewer and several other commenters stated 
that the proposed 4(d) rule for streaked horned lark is too broad, 
particularly the portion that exempts take associated with routine 
agricultural activities on non-federal lands in the Willamette Valley. 
The commenters felt that this exemption is inappropriate and does not 
contribute to conservation of the species. The commenters suggested 
that we should eliminate the special rule, and instead use other 
regulatory mechanisms (e.g., candidate conservation agreements with 
assurances, habitat conservation plans, and safe harbor agreements) to 
ensure the creation of habitat for larks on agricultural lands.
    Our response: The purpose of the 4(d) special rule is to recognize 
the larger conservation value of maintaining existing farmland habitats 
that support streaked horned larks, even though some farming activities 
may adversely affect the species. Activities likely to occur in those 
landscapes, should ongoing agricultural activities cease, such as 
suburban development or transition to orchards and nursery stock, would 
permanently remove habitat essential to the streaked horned lark. We 
believe that exempting take as the result of agricultural activities 
described in the special rule is necessary and advisable to provide for 
the conservation of streaked horned larks by helping to ensure the 
maintenance of those beneficial land uses that provide habitat used by 
the subspecies.
    In the 40 years since the passage of the Act, the Service has 
learned that relying on regulation alone is not an effective means for 
engaging private landowners in endangered species conservation. On the 
agricultural lands in the Willamette Valley, habitat for streaked 
horned larks would not exist but for the activities of private 
landowners. We believe that, in certain instances, easing the general 
take prohibitions on non-federal agricultural lands may encourage 
continued land uses that provide an overall benefit to the species. We 
also believe that such a special rule will promote the conservation 
efforts and private lands partnerships critical for species recovery 
(Bean and Wilcove 1997, pp. 1-2). We believe that it is appropriate to 
use the flexibility offered by the Act to recognize the important 
contributions made by the agricultural community to the creation of 
suitable habitat for streaked horned larks, and to encourage them to 
continue to do so, rather than to see them switch to other crops or 
land uses to avoid the real or perceived burden of the regulations 
associated with listed species. We acknowledge that the agricultural 
activities covered in the 4(d) rule are broad. We modeled this special 
rule on the similar special rules promulgated for the California tiger 
salamander (Ambystoma californiense) (69 FR 47212; August 4, 2004) and 
California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) (71 FR 19244; April 
13, 2006), two species which also depend on the availability of 
agricultural lands for habitat in large portions of their ranges. As we 
stated in the proposed rule, we believe that in the long term, it is a 
benefit to the streaked horned lark to maintain those aspects of the 
Willamette Valley's agricultural landscape that can aid in the recovery 
of the species. We believe the special rule will further conservation 
of the species by discouraging conversions of the agricultural 
landscape into crops or other land uses unsuitable for the streaked 
horned lark; our objective is to allow landowners to continue managing 
the landscape in ways that meet the needs of their operations while 
simultaneously providing suitable habitat for the streaked horned lark. 
It is important to note, however, that the 4(d) special rule is just 
one tool we will use to maintain habitat for larks on agricultural 
lands in the Willamette Valley. We hope to engage the agricultural 
community in education and outreach efforts; we will also use a variety 
of other incentive programs to engage private landowners who are 
willing to do more to conserve streaked horned larks on their lands.
    (15) Comment: One peer reviewer asked us to modify the proposed 
4(d) special rule to include timing restrictions on covered activities 
to minimize disturbances to nesting streaked horned larks.
    Our response: Our purpose in promulgating a special rule to exempt 
take associated with activities that inadvertently create habitat for 
the streaked horned lark is to allow landowners to continue those 
activities without additional regulation. We believe that imposing a 
timing restriction would likely reduce the utility of the special rule 
for land managers, and could have the unintended side effect of causing 
landowners to discontinue their habitat creation activities. 
Accordingly, we have not modified the special rule to include timing 
restrictions; however, we intend to offer education and assistance to 
landowners to help them protect and increase the populations of larks 
on their lands, if they are amenable.

Comments From States

    Comments we received from States regarding the proposal to list the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark are 
addressed below. We received comments from Washington Department of 
Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Washington Department of Natural Resources 
(WDNR), and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) 
related to biological information, threats, critical habitat 
exclusions, the inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms, and 
recommendations for the management of habitat.
    The agencies provided a number of recommended technical corrections 
or edits to the proposed listing of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
and the streaked horned lark. We have evaluated and incorporated this 
information into this final rule when and where appropriate to clarify 
this final listing rule. In instances where the Service may have 
disagreed with an interpretation of the technical information that was 
provided, we have responded to the State directly.
    (16) Comment: WDFW encouraged the Service to assist the State with 
alternative methods of achieving the conservation and recovery of the 
species, including programmatic safe harbor agreements, habitat 
conservation plans, conservation banks, or other incentive-based 
partnerships.
    Our response: The Service appreciates our strong conservation 
partnership with the State of Washington, and will give full 
consideration to these ideas as we develop the recovery plans for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark. Such 
conservation measures are outside of the scope of the present 
rulemaking, however, which is restricted to the question of whether the 
species meet the definition of an endangered or threatened species, and 
should be listed under the authority of the Act.

[[Page 61465]]

    (17) Comment: WDFW was concerned that allowing any timeframe for 
mowing in Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat could crush butterfly 
larvae as well as their host plants.
    Our response: It is our understanding that when larvae are in 
diapause they are usually deep in the vegetation, or within the soil 
itself. At the time larvae are in diapause, most of the host plant 
(except narrow-leaf plantain) and nectar food resources are dormant. It 
is possible to do considerable management on prairies without harm to 
the target conservation species. Our recommendation for habitat 
management in occupied Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat is to mow 
high during diapause to avoid harm to larvae and to avoid destruction 
to larval host plants, including Plantago. For more information on 
recommended best prairie management practices, please contact the 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service for a copy of the Prairie Landowner Guide for Western 
Washington (see ADDRESSES).
    (18) Comment: WDNR recommended that we consider promulgating a 4(d) 
special rule to exempt take of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
associated with habitat restoration and maintenance activities.
    Our response: Under section 4(d) of the Act, a special rule may be 
promulgated only for threatened species. Our review of the best 
scientific and commercial data available indicates that the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly is in danger of extinction throughout its range, 
and we are listing the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly as endangered; 
therefore, a 4(d) special rule is not an available option for this 
subspecies. There are many other tools provided by the Act that we can 
use to work with landowners interested in habitat restoration for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, including safe harbor agreements, 
section 7 consultation, and habitat conservation plans. We will work 
with WDNR and other partners to assess the full array of conservation 
tools available and determine those that may be most appropriate for 
the particular circumstance under consideration.
    (19) Comment: WDNR expressed concern that the safe use of 
pesticides to control nonnative, invasive insects, such as gypsy moths, 
may be impacted by the listing of and designation of critical habitat 
for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly.
    Our response: We do not see the use of pesticides use in general to 
be an adverse impact to Taylor's checkerspot butterflies unless the 
subspecies is directly exposed to the pesticides. The Service does not 
anticipate the need for pesticide spraying on habitat occupied by 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies. However, if pesticide were to be 
sprayed in areas where pesticide drift would expose Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies to the pesticide(s), then we would be concerned 
with their application in these situations. The Service acknowledges 
the use of pesticides as harmful to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
at all life stages. We specifically discourage the use of insecticides 
such as Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (BtK) in forested areas 
adjacent to Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat. This insecticide, 
which is used for harmful defoliators like gypsy moth and spruce 
budworm, has been implicated in the loss of three populations of the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly in Pierce County, Washington, during the 
early 1990s, when it was applied adjacent to Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly habitat.
    (20) Comment: WSDOT requested that we expand the coverage offered 
by the special rule for the streaked horned lark to include roadside 
management activities that are similar to those proposed for airports 
and agricultural operations. They specifically requested coverage for 
vegetation management of roadside rights-of-way, including mechanical 
mowing, weed control, and woody vegetation control; the commenter 
stated that these vegetation management activities are consistent with 
the activities covered on airports and agricultural lands, and would 
provide suitable streaked horned lark habitat along highways and 
roadside rights-of-way.
    Our response: We are currently unaware of any substantial lark use 
along road right-of-ways with the exception of those bordering 
agricultural areas. Roadside management activities present a variety of 
site-specific issues, which are better addressed at the individual site 
level. For actions with a Federal nexus, we believe review and coverage 
of incidental take under section 7 is more appropriate. For activities 
along State highways that could cause take of streaked horned larks, 
other programs would be appropriate to provide incidental take 
coverage, such as a habitat conservation plan (HCP) under section 10 of 
the Act. While encouraging the utilization of conservation programs 
such as development of HCPs, the final rule includes a provision for 
coverage of incidental take under the 4(d) special rule during 
activities aimed at the control of noxious weeds (See: Noxious Weed 
Control on Non-Federal Lands).

Comments From Federal Agencies

    (21) Comment: The Natural Resources Conservation Service asked how 
the special rule would affect farmers who are already implementing 
conservation practices on their lands. In addition, the Oregon Farm 
Bureau asked for more specific information on the agricultural 
activities covered in the special rule, and requested that we make the 
rule more consistent with Oregon farming practices as described by the 
Oregon State Legislature. These commenters asked for definitions of the 
terms used in the draft special rule, including: (1) ``routine'' as it 
applies to seasonal farming and ranching activities, (2) ``normally 
acceptable and established levels of livestock grazing,'' and (3) the 
scope of the term ``irrigation.''
    Our response: The special rule for routine agricultural practices 
is intended to promote land uses that are compatible with the 
conservation of streaked horned larks on private lands with no Federal 
agency involvement. If a landowner wishes to participate in any of the 
wildlife conservation incentive programs, such as those offered by the 
Natural Resources Conservation Service, then those activities would 
need to be reviewed in interagency consultation under section 7 of the 
Act between the Service and the Federal action agency involved in the 
conservation program if the action may affect streaked horned larks. If 
a private landowner wishes to implement conservation actions for 
streaked horned larks without Federal agency involvement, and if those 
activities have a net benefit to the streaked horned lark, then 
incidental take associated with the action may be authorized through a 
safe harbor agreement.
    The special rule to exempt common agricultural activities is 
intended to promote land use practices that are compatible with the 
creation of suitable habitat for streaked horned larks. We recognize 
that farming is a dynamic process, which requires the ability to adapt 
to changing environmental and economic conditions. We have revised the 
language in the special rule to conform to farming standards 
established by the Oregon State Legislature in the Oregon Revised 
Statutes dealing with agricultural practices (ORS section 30.930). We 
have clarified the language in the special rule, and revised the list 
of covered activities. Activities covered include, but are not limited 
to: Planting, harvesting, rotation, mowing, tilling, discing, burning, 
and herbicide application to crops; normal transportation activities, 
and repair and

[[Page 61466]]

maintenance of unimproved farm roads and graveled margins of rural 
roads; livestock grazing according to normally acceptable and 
established levels; hazing of geese or predators; and maintenance of 
irrigation and drainage systems. These activities are those that are 
routinely implemented on farm lands in the Willamette Valley, and 
inadvertently provide conservation benefits to the streaked horned 
lark. The agricultural activities listed in this document are merely 
examples of practices that we consider to be routine to managing an 
active farming operation. Our intention is not to limit activities that 
may be necessary to the operation of a farm, but to clarify that 
``take'' of the listed species is not prohibited when engaging in the 
identified activities. For further discussion, see the Special Rule 
section below.

Comments From the Public

    (22) Comment: Several commenters provided minor technical 
corrections or edits to the proposal, and in some cases additional or 
updated information regarding the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and 
the streaked horned lark.
    Our response: We have evaluated and incorporated this information 
into this final rule when and where appropriate to clarify the final 
rule. In instances where the Service may have disagreed with an 
interpretation of the technical information that was provided, we have 
responded under separate comments.
    (23) Comment: One commenter disagreed with our description of the 
flight period for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. We state that the 
flight period extends into early July and the commenter believes it 
should only be into June.
    Our response: The flight period for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly varies widely over its occupied range. On occupied sites 
located on the north Olympic Peninsula the observed adult flight period 
for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly extends into July (Severns and 
Grossball 2011, p. 71).
    (24) Comment: One commenter stated that just because habitat is 
suitable for the species of concern does not mean that the entire 
prairie was historically occupied. Another commenter asked whether we 
should even try to reverse the loss of historical prairie habitat 
available for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked 
horned lark given that the ecosystem is now changed and implementing 
restoration efforts would potentially impact other species that now 
occupy these habitats.
    Our response: The proportion of prairie habitat lost (greater than 
90 percent) and the fragmentation of what remains has created the 
necessity for the conservation of lands that can presently support the 
recovery of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned 
lark. The goal of the Service is to conserve suitable habitat in a 
landscape context that will lead to the recovery of the listed species. 
As discussed in our response to Comment 13, the Act provides a suite of 
various conservation tools to achieve this goal. It is not a reasonable 
assumption to consider the entire prairie landscape at any given 
prairie would be completely occupied by the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly or by the streaked horned lark. In the case of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly, because of their sedentary nature and their 
ability to form metapopulation structure on large landscapes, we would 
be inclined to believe that, even on large landscapes, available 
habitat would be used disproportionately, leading to a patchy 
distribution of the subspecies. We employ a comprehensive approach to 
recovery planning, and do consider the needs of other species beyond 
the subject listed species in the process of crafting recovery 
strategies.
    (25) Comment: One commenter suggested the Service should provide 
blanket, enduring authorization for incidental take for the streaked 
horned lark on non-federal land, such as through a safe harbor 
agreement between the Service and State field offices, with zero 
baseline and no requirements for participation.
    Our response: The 4(d) special rule addresses those categories of 
activities for which the Service believes a broad exemption from the 
take prohibitions under the Act is necessary and advisable for the 
conservation of the streaked horned lark. Any other incidental take 
authorizations will be addressed through future permitting processes 
under section 10 of the Act. As noted in earlier responses, we 
encourage our conservation partners to take advantage of the full suite 
of conservation tools available to aid in the recovery of listed 
species.
    (26) Comment: One commenter argued that the observed contraction of 
the streaked horned lark's range justifies listing as endangered. 
Another commenter suggested the streaked horned lark should not be 
listed because we should consider the full range of potential habitat 
for the subspecies.
    Our response: Consideration of the current and historical range of 
a species is only one aspect that is considered in the analysis to 
determine if a species should be listed as an endangered or a 
threatened species; the imminence and magnitude of threats acting on 
the species are more important to the assessment of a species' status. 
We acknowledge that the streaked horned lark's range has contracted 
substantially over the last century. However, although we consider the 
loss of historical range to be informative to our determination, we 
base our conclusion on whether a species is presently in danger of 
extinction or likely to become so within the foreseeable future on the 
status of the species at the time of our determination. We have good 
information that the streaked horned lark population is declining in 
Washington, but the population in Oregon is relatively large, has 
abundant habitat, and appears to be either relatively stable or 
declining far more slowly than the population in Washington, indicating 
that listing as threatened is most appropriate. Many species occupy 
only a portion of their historical ranges, but the Act does not require 
that species be restored to their entire historical ranges to be 
considered secure or recovered; delisting requires only that the 
species no longer meets the definition of an endangered or a threatened 
species under the Act.
    (27) Comment: One commenter stated that the streaked horned lark 
meets the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 
standard for endangered (fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, and 
either a decline of at least 20 percent within 5 years or continuing 
decline, and no subpopulation estimated to contain more than 250 mature 
individuals). The commenter pointed out that the population in 
Washington is clearly declining and the largest known subpopulation at 
the Corvallis Municipal Airport consists of fewer than 250 individuals.
    Our response: The Service does not use a one-size-fits-all standard 
for determination of endangered or threatened status, and the IUCN 
standard of endangered does not pertain to the definition provided 
under the Act. The Act directs us to consider the range of threats a 
species faces, and to make a determination of status based on the total 
impact of those threats. Based upon our evaluation of the threats to 
the streaked horned lark, we have determined it is a threatened species 
as defined by the Act.
    (28) Comment: One commenter stated that the streaked horned lark 
does not deserve special protections in Oregon, and listing as 
threatened is not warranted, citing our statements about the apparent 
stability of the population in the Willamette Valley. The commenter 
believes we failed to

[[Page 61467]]

demonstrate that the streaked horned lark is declining or that such 
declines are likely to occur.
    Our response: Our analysis of the best scientific and commercial 
data available indicates that the streaked horned lark is declining 
throughout its range. The decline is most apparent in the Puget 
lowlands of Washington, but the population in Oregon is also declining, 
though at a less pronounced rate. In this final rule, we have clarified 
the information regarding the status of the streaked horned lark in the 
Willamette Valley, and why we believe the subspecies warrants listing 
as a threatened species under the Act across its range.
    (29) Comment: One commenter stated that we should have been clearer 
regarding the limits of the recent surveys for streaked horned larks in 
the Willamette Valley. The commenter suggested that most of the 
suitable habitat on private lands in the Willamette Valley has been 
surveyed only from public rights-of-way, and that few, if any, large 
blocks of private farmland have been adequately surveyed for larks.
    Our response: We acknowledge in this final rule that most surveys 
for streaked horned larks on private lands in the Willamette Valley 
have been conducted from roadsides. The sites that have been well 
surveyed are those in public ownership or private lands with 
conservation easements. We have clearly stated that we do not have a 
complete picture of the streaked horned lark's distribution or habitat 
use. However, the Act requires us to use the best scientific and 
commercial data available, and we have used the best available data to 
support our determination that the streaked horned lark meets the 
definition of a threatened species under the Act.
    (30) Comment: One commenter suggested that the Service needs to 
evaluate recreation and its associated effects (attraction of potential 
predators) as a threat to the streaked horned lark.
    Our response: As discussed in the proposed rule, recreational 
activities can pose both direct and indirect threats to streaked horned 
larks. Activities such as horseback riding, boating, biking, dog 
walking, ATV use, and model airplane flying can result in the loss of 
nests through crushing of chicks or eggs and nest abandonment 
associated with disturbance of adults. Indirect effects of recreational 
activities include increased risk of nest failure when incubating or 
when brooding adults are flushed from nests and human activities (such 
as leaving trash and food on site) attract corvids to nesting areas. 
Corvids have been routinely documented depredating nests of streaked 
horned larks and are considered significant nest predators. The Service 
is working with resource staff at JBLM to reduce recreational impacts 
to the streaked horned lark at several prairies on base by limiting 
civilian access during the nesting season and by posting signs 
restricting public access at several prairies and nesting areas along 
the Washington Coast. Because enforcement of seasonal closures and 
monitoring of recreational activities at sites that are not posted 
(e.g., boating and camping on the Columbia River islands, ATV use on 
port properties, and dispersed recreational activities in open areas) 
is difficult and often ineffective, recreational activities are a 
potential threat to the streaked horned lark.
    (31) Comment: One commenter stated that we failed to show that 
Oregon's regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect the streaked 
horned lark. The commenter believes that the threat of loss of suitable 
habitats is not likely to be realized because Goals 3 and 5 of Oregon's 
Statewide Planning Program protect agricultural lands and open spaces, 
and these mechanisms will be sufficient to provide adequate habitat for 
streaked horned larks on agricultural lands in the Willamette Valley.
    Our response: Oregon has a strong Statewide program for land use 
planning, which established 19 goals to protect various aspects of 
Oregon's environment. Goal 3 addresses preservation of agricultural 
lands; Goal 5 directs local governments to adopt programs to protect 
natural resources and conserve scenic, historic, and open space 
resources. Most of the goals are accompanied by guidelines, which are 
suggestions about how a goal may be applied; however, these guidelines 
are purely voluntary and not mandatory. Goal 3 has been effective in 
preserving agriculture in the Willamette Valley, but the guidelines 
merely direct counties to preserve farmland and open space, but do not 
specifically call for the maintenance of existing agricultural crops. 
Transition from grass seed fields to other agricultural types, such as 
nursery stock or wheat, would be consistent with Goal 3, and yet would 
result in habitat loss for the streaked horned lark. Similarly, Goal 5 
promotes the protection and conservation of open space and wildlife 
habitats, but does not specifically require the maintenance of existing 
land use types that support the streaked horned lark. We conclude that 
Oregon's Statewide planning goals and guidelines contribute to 
protecting habitats for larks in the Willamette Valley, but are not 
sufficient to protect or maintain habitat on agricultural lands for the 
long-term sustainability of streaked horned lark populations.
    (32) Comment: One commenter stated that our analysis of Factor E 
(other natural and manmade factors affecting the subspecies' 
existence), particularly the status of the small population of streaked 
horned larks on the Puget prairies, supports an endangered listing.
    Our response: As we acknowledge in this final rule, populations of 
the streaked horned lark in the State of Washington are small and 
declining at a faster rate than those in Oregon. However, we evaluated 
the status of the streaked horned lark at the scale of the subspecies 
as a whole, and as we stated in our analysis, the population of the 
streaked horned lark in the Willamette Valley is larger, has more 
habitat available, and appears to be more secure than the small 
population in Washington. Thus, although the status of the subspecies 
is not stable and secure, we do not consider the subspecies in its 
entirety to be in danger of extinction at this time, as we anticipate 
the persistence of the streaked horned lark in some portions of its 
range, at least for the foreseeable future. Threats acting upon the 
subspecies across its range are, however, such that if they were to 
continue unabated, we anticipate the streaked horned lark would become 
in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. Given that the 
subspecies is not presently in danger of extinction (endangered), but 
is likely to become so with the foreseeable future, we conclude that 
consideration of all of these factors together with the data that show 
a declining population on the Puget prairies warrants a threatened 
determination for the streaked horned lark. In addition, as described 
in this final rule, we considered whether the Washington population of 
the streaked horned lark may constitute a separate distinct population 
segment (DPS) or a significant portion of the range. We concluded that 
the Washington population does not constitute a valid DPS under our DPS 
policy, and furthermore that the Washington population does not 
represent a significant portion of the range of the subspecies. Based 
on these analyses, we conclude that threatened status is most 
appropriate for the streaked horned lark.
    (33) Comment: One commenter stated that the economic and social 
factors driving conversion of Willamette Valley farmland to vineyards 
are likely to continue in the foreseeable future, and may accelerate as 
large California wineries are reportedly investing in Willamette Valley 
farmlands as a hedge

[[Page 61468]]

against global climate change. As a result, the likelihood of a 
changing agricultural landscape should be recognized in the listing and 
critical habitat designation for the streaked horned lark.
    Our response: The Service does not consider the acquisition of 
lands by the viticulture industry to be a threat to streaked horned 
lark breeding and nesting habitat. We contacted Dr. William Boggess at 
Oregon State University's Oregon Wine Research Institute who described 
the ideal lands for viticulture as being 300-800 feet (90-240 m) in 
elevation, on a slope with a southern or western aspect. These optimal 
viticulture soils are shallow and nutrient poor, above the flood plain 
or on eroded rocky soils. These ideal conditions for grapes are not 
similar in characteristic to habitats preferred by the streaked horned 
lark. As such, we do not consider viticulture a current or future 
threat to the streaked horned lark.
    (34) Comment: One commenter stated that the streaked horned lark 
faces continued threats to habitats and populations, including 
conversion of prairie and grassland, continued dumping of dredged 
spoils, military operations, airport development, and off-road vehicle 
recreation.
    Our response: As we discussed in the text of this final rule, many 
of these activities have the potential to both benefit and pose a 
threat to the streaked horned lark. Many of the issues the commenter 
cites as threats to the streaked horned lark's habitat may actually be 
essential to the continued creation of habitat for the bird, depending 
on how they are conducted; the natural processes that formerly created 
habitat for the streaked horned lark no longer operate, and so these 
industrial activities create almost the only usable habitats available 
to the bird. Without the presence of dredge spoil islands, military 
reserves, agriculture, and airports, there would be virtually no 
habitat left for the streaked horned lark. The challenge will be to 
work with landowners to ensure these activities are implemented in ways 
that benefit the subspecies as well as work for the landowner as we 
work to recover the streaked horned lark. See also our response to 
Comment 13.
    (35) Comment: Several commenters asked that the Service fully 
consider the effect of the 20-year old Washington State Growth 
Management Act (GMA) with respect to both direction and growth into 
urban areas while protecting rural areas. Commenters believed the GMA 
protects threatened species and habitat through comprehensive 
regulations and planning that are integrated with the other mandates of 
the law. One commenter suggested that listings under the Act compel 
counties to identify critical areas and conserve habitat for listed 
species in order to receive monetary incentives, and work against 
existing local and State requirements such as the GMA.
    Our response: The Service fully considered the effect of the 
Washington State GMA in reviewing the potential inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms. The GMA provides landscape-scale planning and 
conservation policies and tools, while the Act focuses on protection 
for species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Each authority 
plays an important role in achieving our shared goals for prairie 
habitat and species conservation; however, in this case, implementation 
to date of the GMA alone has not provided enough certainty of future 
conservation for the species to fully address the threats identified in 
the proposed rule, and this final rule, to list the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark under the Act. The 
application of the GMA is not uniform across the State and as such does 
not supply protection adequate to preclude the listing of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly or the streaked horned lark. The Service works 
with not only counties, but a broad range of entities, using a wide 
variety of incentive-based programs to balance the conservation needs 
of listed species with the objectives of entities that voluntarily 
choose to work with us. We work with these partners to meet the 
conservation needs for federally listed species while striving to be 
consistent with existing State or local requirements, such as 
Washington State's GMA.
    (36) Comment: One commenter said that streaked horned larks are 
insufficiently protected by existing regulatory mechanisms, and the 
proposed 4(d) special rule substantially weakens protections for the 
streaked horned lark.
    Our response: In our analysis of Factor D (the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms), we found that existing regulatory 
mechanisms are not sufficient to protect the streaked horned lark. 
However, we believe that promulgation of a special rule under section 
4(d) of the Act is necessary and advisable to provide for conservation 
of the subspecies because its habitat is inadvertently created by 
airport managers and agricultural landowners. One of our goals for 
recovering listed species on private lands is to find ways to help 
landowners view these species on their lands as an asset rather than a 
legal or economic liability. This is especially important when dealing 
with an early-successional dependent (sub)species such as the streaked 
horned lark that exhibits a temporary or intermittent presence on those 
lands, and when those lands require discretionary management treatments 
by the landowner to maintain their suitability or attractiveness for 
the streaked horned lark. The continued availability of these habitats 
on private lands is essential to the persistence of the streaked horned 
lark. With the special rule, we are seeking to encourage private 
landowners to be willing to accommodate or attract streaked horned 
larks, and to discourage any landowner's desire to avoid having 
streaked horned larks on their property, and managing the property for 
the benefit of the streaked horned lark.
    (37) Comment: One commenter expressed concern that some activities 
covered under the proposed special rule for airports and agricultural 
lands could be carried to the point that they eliminate streaked horned 
larks on a site, for example, intensive mowing or hazing by falcons.
    Our response: Our purpose in developing the special rule for 
airports and agricultural lands is to encourage the continuation of 
practices that inadvertently create habitat for the streaked horned 
lark. We acknowledge that some of those activities may take larks, 
which is why a special rule is needed, but the availability of the 4(d) 
special rule should eliminate the incentive to remove larks from 
airports or agricultural lands to avoid violation of the Act. However, 
the concern that land managers could inadvertently eliminate streaked 
horned larks from a site is valid, and we will work with land managers 
to identify opportunities to conserve larks on sites and for activities 
that are covered by the special rule.
    (38) Comment: One commenter recommended that the proposed special 
rule for the streaked horned lark be expanded to cover the actions of 
non-federal entities engaged in dredging operations that deposit 
materials that create upland lark habitat on the lower Columbia River.
    Our Response: Under the 4(d) special rule, take of the streaked 
horned lark caused by routine agricultural activities, wildlife hazard 
management programs at civilian airports, and noxious weed control 
activities is exempt from the prohibitions of section 9 of the Act. The 
purpose of exempting these activities is to encourage activities by 
non-Federal entities that inadvertently create lark habitat. Dredge 
disposal clearly has the

[[Page 61469]]

potential to create habitat for larks, but any action that involves 
dredging in the Columbia River would have a Federal nexus because it 
requires authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). 
Under section 7(a)(2) of the Act, it is the responsibility of all 
Federal agencies to insure that any action authorized, funded, or 
carried out by the agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. 
Since the Corps will be required to consult with the Service under 
section 7 of the Act for dredging operations that may affect the 
streaked horned lark, those activities and any associated take of 
streaked horned larks will be appropriately addressed in section 7 
consultation between the Corps and the Service.
    (39) Comment: Some commenters asked for a special rule under 
section 4(d) of the Act for restoration actions, including landfill 
closure and maintenance. The commenters stated that without a 4(d) 
special rule allowing active habitat management, agencies and land 
stewards would not be able to maintain needed habitat conditions at 
sites that could support streaked horned larks. The commenters 
requested coverage in a special rule for activities including, but not 
limited to: Seeding and planting, haying, mowing, tilling, disking, 
harrowing, and herbicide application; prescribed burning; hydrologic 
management; livestock grazing; routine management and maintenance of 
infrastructure, such as gates, fences, water control structures, 
property boundary markers, and property surveys; monitoring of 
vegetation and animals; and applied or other research, such as vocal 
attraction experiments, vegetation manipulations, predator surveys, and 
other work.
    Our response: The purpose of the 4(d) special rule for agriculture, 
airports, and noxious weed control is to allow take of streaked horned 
larks for activities that inadvertently create habitat for the birds. 
Our logic in developing this special rule is that, without the 
exemption from take offered by the 4(d) special rule, these landowners 
might decide not to take actions that create or maintain important 
habitat for streaked horned larks, in order to avoid the potential 
violation of the Act. The restoration and habitat creation activities 
discussed in the comment above would be implemented specifically to 
enhance habitat for streaked horned larks or other prairie species. We 
believe it is appropriate to work with these agencies and land stewards 
using other programs offered by the Act (section 7 consultation, safe 
harbor agreements, and section 10(a)(1)(B) habitat conservation plans) 
to maximize the conservation efforts in these programs, and to offer 
exemptions from incidental take through options other than a special 
rule.
    (40) Comment: One commenter requested a special rule under section 
4(d) of the Act for park management activities at M. James Gleason 
Memorial Boat Ramp and Broughton Beach in Portland; the special rule 
would include coverage for any take of streaked horned larks resulting 
from repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure, and facility 
improvements that are underway now. The commenter also asked for a 
special rule that allows take associated with recreational use of the 
site by the public, including events such as the Polar Bear Plunge, 
fishing from boats and from shore, picnicking, hiking, dog walking, 
bird watching, and other customary passive recreation.
    Our response: As we stated earlier, we have used the option to 
promulgate a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act specifically 
for activities that inadvertently create habitat for streaked horned 
larks (i.e., wildlife hazard management at airports, activities on 
agricultural lands in the Willamette Valley, and noxious weed control 
on non-federal lands). The activities listed in the comment do not 
create habitat for the streaked horned lark or otherwise benefit the 
species, and are more appropriately covered under other programs of the 
Act that result in exemptions from incidental take of a listed species, 
including consultation pursuant to section 7 or permitting pursuant to 
section 10, if take of larks as a result of these activities is 
anticipated.
    (41) Comment: One commenter asked us to include an offer of 
landowner assistance and education in the special rule.
    Our response: These activities (landowner assistance and education) 
do not cause take, and so are not included in the special rule 
exempting certain activities from the prohibitions on taking; we have 
therefore not amended the special rule to include them. We acknowledge, 
however, that outreach to landowners will be an important component of 
streaked horned lark conservation and recovery, and we will offer 
landowner assistance and education to airport managers and agricultural 
landowners through the various conservation tools and incentive 
programs offered by the Act.
    (42) Comment: Numerous commenters asked us to add to the activities 
covered under the 4(d) special rule for airports on non-federal lands, 
or to allow more flexibility in the activities covered. Commenters 
essentially asked for coverage for all routine activities at airports, 
and specifically asked for the 4(d) special rule to cover the following 
activities: Low-level military training operations; pest and invasive 
species control; stockpiling and staging areas for construction 
projects; vehicle access routes; management and operations of storm 
water conveyance, treatment facilities, and flow-control facilities, 
including grass seeding, irrigation, mowing, soil augmentation, and 
drainage control; spill and other environmental emergency response and 
associated remediation, including equipment deployment, product 
recovery, and soil removal; anti-icing and de-icing of aircraft and 
pavements, including chemical and physical methods; application of 
herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and other chemical treatment 
methods; noxious weed control; airport rescue and fire-fighting 
activities; control and removal of foreign object debris; airfield 
taxiway and services; road maintenance, including pavement repair and 
replacement, and paint or rubber removal; management of all marking, 
signs, and lighting; maintenance of meteorological instruments; 
management of obstructions to aircraft operations; and protection and 
maintenance of navigational aids.
    Our response: Airports provide important habitat for streaked 
horned larks throughout their range. We developed the 4(d) special rule 
specifically to cover routine actions that inadvertently create 
suitable conditions for larks at airports. The purpose of the special 
rule is to encourage the continuation of the practices that have 
created suitable habitats for the species. The activities in the list 
above may be essential for safe airport operations, but do not 
generally create habitat for the streaked horned lark. We understand 
that airports must perform many of these activities, and some of them 
may affect larks; however, the Act provides other appropriate 
mechanisms for addressing those activities, and exempting any 
associated take. For activities at airports with a Federal nexus (e.g., 
drainage projects requiring a permit from the Corps under section 404 
of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.)), section 7 
consultation can provide the needed coverage for incidental take. For 
activities without a Federal nexus that may result in incidental take 
of the streaked horned lark, we will work with the airports to

[[Page 61470]]

cover the activities under section 10 of the Act.
    We also note here that we have amended the 4(d) special rule to 
include noxious weed control on non-Federal lands. We added this 
activity to the 4(d) special rule in response to public comments 
requesting an exemption from take prohibitions for actions that restore 
habitats used by the streaked horned lark, but this component of the 
4(d) special rule may also be applicable to some activities at non-
Federal airports. The specific weed control activities covered in the 
4(d) special rule are: mowing, herbicide and fungicide application, 
fumigation and burning. See the 4(d) special rule at the end of this 
document for a complete description of the take exemptions for noxious 
weed control.
    (43) Comment: One commenter stated that the proposed 4(d) special 
rule for the streaked horned lark is unlawful because it does not 
provide for the conservation of the species. The commenter stated that 
the Service's authority to promulgate a 4(d) special rule is 
constrained by the requirement that the measures in the special rule be 
``necessary and advisable'' to provide for the survival and recovery of 
the species. The commenter also argued that, for more than 30 years, it 
has been the policy and practice of the Service to extend the full 
protections against take in section 9 to threatened species. Any 
departure from this long-standing position must have a valid 
conservation purpose.
    Our response: We developed the 4(d) special rule for the streaked 
horned lark consistent with the Act's requirements that any special 
rule be necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of a 
species. The rationale for promulgating the special rule is that, 
throughout most of its range, streaked horned lark habitat has been 
inadvertently created and maintained by industrial land uses. The 
purpose of the 4(d) special rule is to encourage landowners to continue 
to manage lands in a way that creates or maintains habitat for the 
streaked horned lark, rather than switch to other land uses or 
practices that will not support the subspecies. The 4(d) special rule 
for the streaked horned lark is consistent with the Service's long-
standing practice to use all the flexibility offered by the Act under 
section 4(d) for threatened species.
    (44) Comment: One commenter stated that the 4(d) special rule 
appears to be geared more toward airport safety than streaked horned 
lark conservation; the commenter said, ``At its core, the [4(d)] rule 
has nothing to do with streaked horned lark conservation.''
    Our response: We disagree. The reality is that airports' wildlife 
hazard management programs (which are implemented to create a safe 
conditions for aviation) inadvertently create suitable habitat for 
streaked horned larks. The safe operation of aircraft requires the same 
wide-open landscape context needed by streaked horned larks; the 
wildlife hazard management practices at airports create the specific 
habitat characteristics (low-stature vegetation) desired by larks, as 
well as a reduced level of predatory species. We believe that 
development of a 4(d) special rule to allow the practices that create 
or maintain suitable habitat for larks is necessary and advisable to 
provide for streaked horned lark conservation.
    (45) Comment: One commenter stated that, in the special rule, the 
Service acknowledges that some management actions taken at airports are 
generally beneficial to larks, but noted that this implies that some 
activities are not beneficial, and should not be covered in the rule. 
For example, the Service fails to explain how ``management, repair, and 
maintenance of roads and runways'' benefits larks, or how hazing 
hazardous wildlife benefits larks.
    Our response: Certain activities covered in the 4(d) special rule 
are likely neutral with respect to impacts to streaked horned larks, 
and these include maintenance and repair of roads and runways. We 
included these activities in the list of covered activities in the 
special rule so that airport managers would not be confused about their 
ability to implement routine maintenance activities and which 
activities are exempted from the take prohibitions of the Act. Other 
activities, such as habitat management and hazing of hazardous 
wildlife, clearly benefit the streaked horned lark. Hazing is often 
directed at larger, more hazardous wildlife, such as hawks and geese; 
hazing these species away from airfields benefits the streaked horned 
lark by reducing the abundance of predators (such as hawks) that would 
otherwise prey on eggs and nestlings.
    (46) Comment: One commenter believes the 4(d) special rule for the 
streaked horned lark is not an appropriate application of that section 
of the Act. The commenter stated that the Act requires section 4(d) to 
be used to issue regulations to conserve threatened species; the 
commenter further points out that the Act defines conservation as all 
activities associated with scientific resource management, including 
research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisitions and 
maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation. The 
commenter does not believe that the special rule fits within the rubric 
of scientific resource management activities.
    Our response: When Congress enacted the Endangered Species Act in 
1973, it provided no prohibitions on take of threatened species. 
However, section 4(d) of the Act applies to threatened species and was 
included in the Act to set prohibitions for these species that are 
necessary and advisable to provide for their conservation. Such 
regulations are intended to encourage activities that will promote 
conservation of species and prohibit take as a result of those actions 
that are not conducive to species conservation. Our promulgation of a 
special rule for the streaked horned lark is consistent with this 
aspect of the Act, and is necessary to conserve the streaked horned 
lark given the unique situation of its dependence on actively managed, 
industrial landscapes.
    (47) Comment: One commenter stated that the 4(d) special rule for 
activities at airports would not benefit the streaked horned lark, 
because even control and management of vegetation at airports can harm 
larks if the activities occur during the breeding season.
    Our response: We agree that some of these activities can harm 
larks, and will result in take, which is why a special rule to exempt 
take as the result of certain activities is appropriate. These 
activities (i.e., control and management of vegetation) clearly benefit 
the streaked horned lark by creating the appropriate habitat conditions 
for breeding. The best evidence of this fact is that, with their 
existing management practices, airports currently support larks. 
Maintenance of these conditions, which must be done during the bird's 
breeding season to ensure aircraft safety, will entail some take of the 
species; thus the 4(d) special rule allows take in the act of creating 
and maintaining suitable habitat for the streaked horned lark.
    (48) Comment: One commenter asked us to amend the 4(d) special rule 
to include a re-evaluation of the special rule after 5 years to ensure 
that it is not contributing to the decline of the streaked horned lark.
    Our response: All of our rulemakings are subject to revision, if 
necessary and appropriate. In the recovery program for the streaked 
horned lark, we will track the population trend, and if the data 
suggest that the special rule is not benefitting the species, we would 
re-evaluate it at that time. In addition, as required by section 
4(c)(2) of the Act, we conduct a review of the status of listed species 
every 5 years. The reviews

[[Page 61471]]

assess each endangered and threatened species to determine whether its 
status has changed since the time of its listing or its last status 
review and whether it should be classified differently or delisted.
    (49) Comment: One commenter stated that the proposed listing of the 
streaked horned lark could potentially have adverse impacts on aviation 
safety, and therefore should be subjected to a formal safety risk 
assessment in accordance with established FAA policies and procedures, 
notably those outlined in FAA Order 5200.11, FAA Airports (ARP) Safety 
Management System. They further stated a risk assessment should 
consider both the direct hazard posed to aircraft operations at and 
near airports by the streaked horned lark and the induced hazards 
associated with larger predatory wildlife species that the streaked 
horned lark may attract to the vicinity of the airport, as well as 
airfield maintenance activities that could be limited due to a listing.
    Our response: FAA policies, including FAA Order 5200.11, do not 
apply to our administration of the Act. FAA Order 5200.11, by its own 
terms, applies only to airports and FAA personnel. We have no authority 
under the Act to choose not to list a bird species that otherwise 
warrants listing on the grounds that the species poses a threat to 
aviation safety. In any event, streaked horned larks are already 
present on many of the airports within the range of the species and 
have been there for some time. The subspecies occurs on airports 
largely because management to control hazardous wildlife has 
incidentally created and maintains suitable habitat for the streaked 
horned lark. FAA regulations require airports to take immediate action 
to alleviate wildlife hazards whenever they are detected (14 CFR 
139.337). This requirement to maintain airfields free of wildlife 
hazards will limit the potential for populations of all birds, 
including streaked horned larks, to increase to levels that pose a risk 
to aviation. The 4(d) special rule for wildlife hazard management at 
airports will ensure that airports are not in violation of the Act when 
implementing appropriate safety measures. The FAA Order referenced went 
into effect on June 1, 2011, and provides guidance for airports to 
complete safety risk management plans or approaches by certain 
timelines. The Service is willing to assist the FAA and individual 
airports in determining what, if any, adjustments need to be made to 
the safety risk assessments as a result of the listing of the 
subspecies.
    (50) Comment: One commenter stated that larks do not harm airplanes 
when they are struck.
    Our response: The commenter's assumption is not supported by the 
facts. A recent report verified that an F-15C military aircraft at 
Portland International Airport struck a streaked horned lark and the 
plane sustained damage to an engine (Dove et al. 2013, p. 1). The bird 
also died, of course.
    (51) Comment: One commenter argued that the special rule for 
airports and agriculture would not advance the conservation of the 
streaked horned lark, but is designed to allow airports and 
agricultural landowners to continue to operate without obtaining a 
permit for take under section 10. The commenter stated that the 
provisions in the special rule should be used for section 10 permits, 
and that the Service should work with airports throughout the range of 
the streaked horned lark to create a regional habitat conservation plan 
for airports, and work with farmers to develop safe harbor agreements.
    Our response: We developed the 4(d) special rule for the streaked 
horned lark consistent with the Act's requirements that any special 
rule be necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of a 
species. We believe that the special rule appropriately uses the 
flexibility of section 4(d) of the Act to allow take of a threatened 
species. The foundation of the special rule is that, throughout most of 
the subspecies' range, streaked horned lark habitat is inadvertently 
created by industrial or agricultural land uses. The purpose of the 
4(d) special rule is to encourage landowners to continue to manage 
lands in ways that create habitat for the streaked horned lark, rather 
than switch to other land uses practices that will not support the 
subspecies. The safety issue at airports is unique, and airport 
managers likely have little room to maneuver in terms of the management 
they do; negotiating a section 10 permit with a regional habitat 
conservation plan is unlikely to result in greater conservation of 
larks at airports than can be achieved through the special rule. In 
regard to the recommendation to develop safe harbor agreements with 
farmers, those agreements are entirely voluntary, and are likely to 
benefit fewer streaked horned larks than the 4(d) special rule that 
would apply to all agricultural activities automatically. Furthermore, 
the 4(d) special rule does not preempt the Service from working with 
landowners interested in pursuing safe harbor agreements addressing 
activities either directly or indirectly associated with agricultural 
pursuits, especially any activities intended to attract streaked horned 
larks to their properties.
    (52) Comment: One commenter said that National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) review is required to evaluate 
alternatives to the 4(d) special rule for the streaked horned lark.
    Our response: The courts have ruled that NEPA does not apply to 
listing decisions under section 4(a) of the Act, nor to 4(d) special 
rules issued concurrent with listing. See Pacific Legal Foundation v. 
Andrus, 657 F.2d 829 (6th Cir. 1981); and Center for Biological 
Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 04-4324, 2005 WL 
2000928, at *12 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 19, 2005).
    (53) Comment: One commenter stated that the Service must consult 
under section 7 of the Act on the effects of the 4(d) special rule on 
the streaked horned lark to ensure that the special rule will not 
jeopardize the continued existence of the subspecies. The commenter 
pointed out that the National Marine Fisheries Service has conducted 
formal section 7 consultations on the issuance of 4(d) special rules 
for listed fish.
    Our response: The Service believes that section 7 does not apply to 
the promulgation of 4(d) special rules. The Service's determination 
that a 4(d) special rule is necessary and advisable to provide for 
conservation of the species necessarily subsumes a determination that 
the rule will not jeopardize the species or adversely modify its 
critical habitat. Hence, applying the section 7 consultation procedures 
to such rulemaking would be a redundant exercise in paperwork. See Cf. 
Pacific Legal Foundation v. Andrus, 657 F.2d 829 (6th Cir. 1981) (NEPA 
inapplicable to listing decision under section 4 of the Act, because 
listing action furthered purposes of NEPA); Douglas County v. Babbitt, 
48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995) (NEPA inapplicable to designation of 
critical habitat under section 4 of the Act, because designation 
furthers goals of NEPA). Moreover, even if section 7 did apply to the 
promulgation of a 4(d) special rule, in this case the subspecies is not 
yet listed, so the only relevant provision would be section 7(a)(4), 
which requires an action agency to confer on any action that is likely 
to jeopardize, or destroy or adversely modify the proposed critical 
habitat of, a species proposed for listing. The Service has determined 
that this 4(d) special rule is not likely to jeopardize the streaked 
horned lark, nor is it likely to destroy or adversely modify its 
proposed critical habitat, so a

[[Page 61472]]

conference under section 7(a)(4) of the Act is not required.
    (54) Comment: One commenter noted dredge material placement sites 
are human-made or managed features and not ``naturally occurring 
habitat,'' and these sites are specifically created and managed for the 
placement of dredge materials. The commenter further raised concern 
about the presence of streak horned larks limiting full access to 
dredge material sites. Another commenter said that placement of dredge 
materials should not be considered a threat given the long-term benefit 
of creation and maintenance of dredge islands.
    Our response: Streaked horned larks commonly use human-made or 
managed areas that provide the right conditions and are not limited to 
``naturally occurring habitats.'' Upland dredge spoil deposit sites, 
agricultural fields, gravel roads/shoulders, undeveloped industrial 
sites, and areas where vegetation is sparse or maintained (such as at 
airports) provide suitable conditions and the landscape context that 
larks need. The presence of a listed species on these sites does not 
preclude entities such as airports from doing business or continuing 
operations. One option may be for potentially affected entities to work 
with the Service on the development of a habitat conservation plan 
under section 10 of the Act. A habitat conservation plan authorizes 
incidental take and provides landowners long-term assurances from 
activities that could affect the species or suitable habitat.
    In the absence of trend data, we cannot know whether unmanaged 
dredge spoils deposition has had a net positive or negative effect on 
streaked horned lark population numbers. While creation and maintenance 
of these dredge islands is critical to the perpetuation of the 
subspecies, streaked horned lark population numbers are in decline, and 
nest failure due to unregulated dredge deposition is a threat to the 
subspecies.
    (55) Comment: The Port of Olympia asserted that the listing 
overstates the threats posed by potential airport development to the 
streaked horned lark. An interlocal agreement with WDFW required the 
airport to set aside areas to be preserved as lark habitat, and also 
includes measures to minimize development, retain open space, and avoid 
mowing in lark nesting areas and during lark breeding seasons. The 
airport does not anticipate development in lark nesting areas over the 
next 20 years.
    Our response: We recognize and appreciate the cooperative effort on 
the part of the Port of Olympia to craft the interlocal agreement with 
WDFW. The interlocal agreement provides a framework for how development 
impacts will be addressed and offset, but it does not address the pace 
and extent of future development at the Olympia Airport and does not 
necessarily provide protection from development in the foreseeable 
future.
    (56) Comment: One commenter said that we should acknowledge the 
threats to streaked horned larks and their habitats from government 
programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, that 
encourage tree planting in open areas.
    Our response: We do not currently have information to suggest that 
government tree planting programs pose a threat to the streaked horned 
lark. However, the purpose of section 7 of the Act is to ensure that 
Federal agencies do not fund, authorize, or carry out activities that 
that could jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or 
destroy or adversely modify their designated critical habitat. After 
this rule is effective (see DATES), we will work with the Farm Service 
Agency (the Federal agency that implements the Conservation Reserve 
Enhancement Program) to ensure that their actions do not jeopardize the 
continued existence of the streaked horned lark.
    (57) Comment: One commenter stated that Corvallis Municipal Airport 
has been declared as ``shovel-ready'' for commercial development, and 
that the analysis of listing factors should include an assessment of 
the extent to which the proposed commercial development at Corvallis 
Airport will impinge upon critical habitat for the streaked horned 
lark.
    Our response: As we discuss in the final critical habitat 
designation for the streaked horned lark, published elsewhere in the 
Federal Register today, we have excluded non-Federal airport lands from 
the designation. However, we agree that future development at the 
Corvallis Airport could affect the population of streaked horned larks 
that breed at the site. We have added a brief discussion of the issue 
under Factor A, below.
    (58) Comment: Several commenters asked us to amend the special rule 
to include take of streaked horned larks resulting from aircraft 
strikes.
    Our response: The fundamental purpose of wildlife hazard mitigation 
programs at airports is the minimization of wildlife-aircraft strikes. 
Streaked horned larks are paradoxically attracted to the habitat that 
has been created and maintained at airports as a result of those 
management activities to deter other more dangerous wildlife; some 
aircraft strikes of larks are probably unavoidable. This take of larks 
from routine aviation activities at airports is appropriately exempted 
under the 4(d) special rule, and we have therefore modified this final 
rule accordingly.
    (59) Comment: One commenter requested that, under the proposed 4(d) 
special rule for the streaked horned lark, we consider covering 
comparable municipal government activities. In particular, 
consideration should be given to the continuing operation and 
maintenance, and to (if necessary due to fire or other unforeseen 
events) the reconstruction and restoration of, public facilities such 
as stormwater facilities, water supply sites (wellheads and springs), 
and active recreation parks (including athletic fields utilized by 
cities but owned by school districts). Such operation and maintenance 
should encompass sporting events, planting and mowing, fence and 
security maintenance, herbicide and fertilizer application, and similar 
activities.
    Our response: We are not aware of any streaked horned larks nesting 
on lands owned and managed by the Cities of Olympia, Lacey, or 
Tumwater, or on school properties, stormwater facilities, water supply 
sites, or active recreational parks. These types of areas do not 
provide suitable habitat (size, landscape context, and vegetation do 
not meet habitat definition) for this subspecies. The 4(d) special rule 
for streaked horned lark exempts take under section 9 of the Act 
associated with routine maintenance conducted at airports, farming on 
agricultural lands, and noxious weed control activities to provide for 
the conservation of the streaked horned lark.

Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

    We fully considered comments from the public and the peer reviewers 
on the proposed rule to develop this final listing of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark. This final rule 
incorporates changes to our proposed listing based on the comments that 
we received that are discussed above. We received additional 
distribution and trend data for the streaked horned lark, but this 
information did not alter the conclusion of our analysis. We made some 
technical corrections and reevaluated threats to both subspecies from 
vehicular mortality. Although our analysis of these potential threats 
is different from that in our proposed rule, none of the information 
changed our determination that the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly meets 
the

[[Page 61473]]

definition of an endangered species and the streaked horned lark meets 
the definition of a threatened species under the Act.
    We revised the 4(d) special rule for the streaked horned lark based 
on public comments and information we received. The Service has 
determined that exempting specified agricultural operations in the 
Willamette Valley of Oregon, rather than rangewide, as proposed, from 
the prohibition of take under section 9 of the Act encourages 
landowners to continue managing the remaining landscape in ways that 
meet the needs of their operation while simultaneously providing for 
the conservation of the streaked horned lark. The application of the 
4(d) special rule exempting specific agricultural operations applies 
only to the Willamette Valley in Oregon because there is no record of 
the streaked horned lark utilizing agricultural lands in Washington 
State, despite thorough surveys by WDFW.
    We revised the 4(d) special rule in response to comments from the 
public, which helped us refine the covered farming activities. We have 
clarified the definition of ``normal farming practices'' and ``normal 
transportation activities'' to be consistent with relevant Oregon State 
laws. We also amended the list of covered activities to address 
specific agricultural practices in the Willamette Valley that may 
affect the streaked horned lark. Based on feedback from agricultural 
interests, we deleted several activities from the 4(d) special rule 
(i.e., routine management and maintenance of stock ponds and berms to 
maintain livestock water supplies; routine maintenance or construction 
of fences for grazing management; placement of mineral supplements; and 
irrigation of agricultural crops, fields, and livestock pastures) and 
added others (i.e., hazing of geese and predators; and maintenance of 
irrigation and drainage systems).
    In response to comments from the FAA and airport operators, we 
revised the 4(d) special rule for airports on non-Federal lands by 
referencing applicable FAA regulations and circulars addressing safety, 
and by including a take exemption for streaked horned lark airstrikes 
at airports, which are an occasional unavoidable result of continuing 
aviation operations.
    We also amended the 4(d) special rule to include some management of 
noxious weeds on non-Federal lands, as these actions facilitate the 
preservation of streaked horned lark habitat on the landscape.
    In addition, we found some typographical errors in the Proposed 
Regulation Promulgation section of our proposed rule (October 11, 2012; 
77 FR 61938), specifically in the proposed amendments to 50 CFR 
17.11(h), the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (see 77 FR 
62006). In the table at Sec.  17.11(h), the historic range for the 
streaked horned lark was correctly identified as British Columbia, 
Canada, and the States of Washington and Oregon, although based on the 
presentation of that information, it may have appeared as if all of the 
historic range for the streaked horned lark was within the United 
States. For the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, British Columbia, 
Canada, was mistakenly omitted from the subspecies' historic range, 
which additionally includes the States of Washington and Oregon. For 
both the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark, 
the ``vertebrate population where endangered or threatened'' was 
mistakenly identified as only within the State of Washington in the 
United States. As described in the text of the proposed rule, it was 
our determination and intent to list each subspecies throughout its 
entire range. All of these errors have been corrected in the Regulation 
Promulgation section of this final rule.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 424) 
set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be 
determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more 
of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) The 
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its 
habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or 
manmade factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may 
be warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in 
combination. Each of these factors is discussed below.
    In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look 
beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine 
whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual 
impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no 
response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If 
there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may 
be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat 
it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the 
risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants 
listing as an endangered or threatened species as those terms are 
defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof 
of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating 
evidence of how the species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere 
identification of factors that could impact a species negatively is not 
sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require 
evidence that these factors are operative threats that act on the 
species to the point that the species meets the definition of an 
endangered or threatened species under the Act.
    We considered and evaluated the best available scientific and 
commercial information in evaluating the factors affecting each of the 
species under consideration in this rule.

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

    Under this factor, the primary long-term threats to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark are the loss, 
conversion, and degradation of habitat, particularly as a consequence 
of agricultural and urban development, successional changes to 
grassland habitat, and the spread of invasive plants.
    The prairies of south Puget Sound and western Oregon are part of 
one of the rarest ecosystems in the United States (Noss et al. 1995, p. 
I-2; Dunn and Ewing 1997, p. v). Dramatic changes have occurred on the 
landscape over the last 150 years, including a 90 to 95 percent 
reduction in the spatial distribution of the prairie ecosystem. In the 
south Puget Sound region, where most of western Washington's prairies 
historically occurred, less than 10 percent of the original prairie 
persists, and only 3 percent remains dominated by native vegetation 
(Crawford and Hall 1997, pp. 13-14). In the remaining prairies, many of 
the native bunchgrass communities have been replaced by nonnative 
pasture grasses (Rogers 2000, p. 41), which larks avoid using for 
territories and nest sites (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 27). In the 
Willamette Valley, Oregon, native grassland has been reduced from the 
most common vegetation type to scattered parcels intermingled with 
rural residential development and farmland; it is estimated that less 
than 1 percent of the native grassland and savanna remains in Oregon 
(Altman et al. 2001, p. 261).

[[Page 61474]]

Development
    Native prairies and grasslands have been severely reduced 
throughout the range of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the 
streaked horned lark as a result of human activity due to conversion of 
habitat to residential and commercial development and agriculture. 
Prairie habitat continues to be lost, particularly to residential 
development (Stinson 2005, p. 70) by removal of native vegetation and 
the excavation and grading of surfaces and conversion to non-habitat 
(buildings, pavement, other infrastructure). Residential development is 
associated with increased infrastructure such as new road construction, 
which is one of the primary causes of landscape fragmentation (Watts et 
al. 2007, p. 736). Activities that accompany low-density development 
are correlated with decreased levels of biodiversity, mortality to 
wildlife, and facilitated introduction of nonnative, invasive species 
(Trombulak and Frissell 2000, entire; Watts et al. 2007, p. 736). In 
the south Puget Sound lowlands, the glacial outwash soils and gravels 
underlying the prairies are deep and valuable for use in construction 
and road building, which leads to their degradation and destruction.
    Since the 1850s, much of the Willamette Valley of Oregon has been 
altered by development (agricultural and urban). About 96 percent of 
the Willamette Valley is privately owned, and it is both the fastest 
growing area in Oregon and the most densely populated. The Willamette 
Valley provides about half of the State's agricultural sales, and 16 of 
the top 17 private sector employers (manufacturing, high technology, 
forest products, agriculture, and services) are located there. The 
population projected for 2050 is approximately 4 million, or nearly 
double the current population (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 
2006, p. 237). The increase in population will result in increased 
building construction and road development, further impacting the 
remaining prairies and oak woodlands.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--The habitat of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly is highly fragmented across the region due to 
agricultural and low-density residential development. Fragmentation due 
to residential and associated road development has led to a reduction 
of native larval host plants and adult nectar plants as introduced 
invasive plant species, primarily Mediterranean grasses and shrubs such 
as Scot's broom, increasingly dominate the landscape and outcompete 
native plant species (see discussion below, under ``Loss of Ecological 
Disturbance Processes, Invasive Species, and Succession''). 
Construction directly destroys habitat, as does conversion, and may 
kill any sessile (immobile) or slow-moving organism in the construction 
footprint (Trombulak and Frissell 2000, p. 19). Unlike many other 
species of butterflies, the Taylor's checkerspot butterflies spend 
approximately 50 weeks of their life cycle as sedentary eggs, larvae, 
or pupae with only a brief window of time (approximately 1-2 weeks) as 
mobile, winged adults (Stinson 2005, p. 78). As a result, commercial 
and residential development, construction of related infrastructure 
including roads, and conversion of habitat to incompatible uses such as 
gravel mining directly affect the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly eggs, 
larvae, and pupae by killing individuals and destroying habitat.
    When in flight, butterflies become subject to mortality from 
collision with vehicles on roads associated with residential 
development, which is commonly known to affect animals of all sizes, 
but especially insects (Trombulak and Frissell 2000, p. 20). Since the 
short flight season of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies directly 
corresponds with their reproductive period, death of gravid (egg-
carrying) females could lead to population declines;, however, it is 
unlikely that failure of the entire population would occur based on 
this alone. These sorts of traffic-collision related deaths may 
disproportionately affect Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in 
comparison to other butterflies, as many other kinds of butterflies are 
in flight for periods much longer than just their reproductive window. 
Additionally, because female Taylor's checkerspot butterflies oviposit 
in clusters (lay many eggs in one place), vehicle traffic can adversely 
affect the subspecies by crushing whole clutches of eggs or large 
numbers of larvae, which cluster together in the early instar periods.
    Four historical locales for Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in the 
south Puget Sound region were lost to development or conversion. 
Dupont, Spanaway, and Lakewood were all converted to urban areas, and 
JBLM Training Area 7S became a gravel pit (Stinson 2005, pp. 93-96).
    In summary, the threat of development and conversion of the prairie 
ecosystem to other uses has a significant impact on Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies due to the effect of development on the habitat 
features that are required (short-statured vegetation communities with 
specific larval and adult food resources) by the subspecies to complete 
its life stages and become a reproductive adult butterfly.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Horned larks need expansive areas of flat, 
open ground to establish breeding territories. The large, flat, 
treeless areas that airports necessarily require and maintain have 
become attractive alternative breeding sites for streaked horned larks 
as native prairies and scoured river banks in the Pacific Northwest 
have declined. Five of the six streaked horned lark nesting sites 
remaining in the Puget lowlands are located on or adjacent to airports 
and military airfields (Rogers 2000, p. 37; Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 
15). At least four breeding sites are found at airports in the 
Willamette Valley, including the largest known population at Corvallis 
Municipal Airport (Moore 2008, pp. 14-17). Stinson (2005, p. 70) 
concluded that if large areas of grass had not been maintained at 
airports, the streaked horned lark might have been extirpated from the 
south Puget Sound area.
    Although routine mowing to meet flight path regulations helps to 
maintain grassland habitat in suitable condition for nesting streaked 
horned larks, the timing of mowing is critical to determining whether 
this activity is harmful or beneficial to larks. Mowing during the 
active breeding season (mid-April to late July) can destroy nests or 
flush adults, which may result in nest failure (Pearson and Hopey 2005, 
p. 17; Stinson 2005, p. 72). Some of the airports in the range of the 
streaked horned lark have adjusted the frequency and timing of mowing 
in recent years to minimize impacts to streaked horned larks (Pearson 
and Altman 2005, p. 10). In 2011, McChord Air Field at JBLM agreed to a 
mowing regime that would provide protections to the streaked horned 
lark during their nesting period. Unfortunately, in years with wet 
spring weather when grass grows extremely rapidly, this strategy cannot 
always be implemented, as mowing must occur to maintain safe conditions 
for aviation. WDFW coordinates mowing schedules at the Olympia Airport 
to reduce impacts to streaked horned larks.
    In 2008, the Port of Olympia prepared an interlocal agreement with 
the WDFW that outlines management recommendations and mitigation for 
impacts to State-listed species from development at the airport. In 
December 2010, a white paper and supplemental planning memorandum was 
developed as part of the Airport Master Plan Update (Port of Olympia 
2010, pp. 7-12). This document, which is outlined in Appendix 2 of the 
Master Plan

[[Page 61475]]

Update, outlines management recommendations for the protection of 
critical areas and priority species, including the streaked horned 
lark. The recommendations include minimizing development, retaining 
open or bare ground, and avoiding mowing during the nesting season 
(March 15 through August 15) in known or potential lark nesting areas. 
Although the Port does not anticipate any development to occur in 
streaked horned lark nesting areas within the next 20 years, the 
agreement is not a regulatory document that would preclude future 
development, which is a primary source of revenue for the Port.
    Airport expansions could result in further losses of some 
populations. At the Olympia Airport, hangars were built in 2005, on 
habitat used by streaked horned larks for foraging, resulting in a loss 
of grass and forb-dominated habitat, which could result in a smaller 
local population due to reduced habitat availability for breeding and 
wintering larks (Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 12). Based on discussions 
with staff at Sanderson Field in Shelton, future development plans do 
not include impacts to streaked horned lark habitat at this time. The 
majority of the proposed development at Sanderson Field will occur in 
areas already impacted (between existing buildings). The West Ramp at 
Gray Army Air Field on JBLM was expanded in 2005, into areas previously 
used by breeding streaked horned larks, resulting in a loss of 
available breeding habitat (Stinson 2005, p. 72).
    At Portland International Airport, streaked horned larks nest in an 
area called the Southwest Quad; this is an area that was filled with 
dredged material between 1987 and 2005, to create a site for future 
airport development. The Port of Portland, which owns the airport, may 
propose to develop the Southwest Quad to accommodate future expansion, 
though there is no current plan in place (Green 2012, in litt.). The 
future development of the Southwest Quad would result in the loss of at 
least 33 ac (13 ha) of habitat and three breeding territories (Moore 
2011, p. 12). Land at the Corvallis Airport Industrial Park is included 
in the Benton-Corvallis Enterprise Zone (City of Corvallis Public Works 
Department 2011, p. 6); the site is intended for development of new 
industries and could result in loss of breeding and wintering habitat 
for streaked horned larks. The date and extent of the habitat loss is 
uncertain however, as no leases have been granted for the site at this 
time.
    The 13th Division Prairie at JBLM is used for helicopter operations 
(paratrooper practices, touch-and-go landings, and load drop and 
retrievals) and troop training activities. Foot traffic and training 
maneuvers that are conducted during streaked horned lark breeding 
season likely are a contributing factor to nest failure and low nest 
success at 13th Division Prairie. Recently, a streaked horned lark nest 
was destroyed at 13th Division Prairie by a porta-potty service vehicle 
(Linders 2012b, in litt.). Artillery training, off-road use of 
vehicles, and troop maneuvers at the 91st Division Prairie are also 
conducted in areas used by streaked horned larks during the nesting 
season. Because access into this training area is limited and streaked 
horned lark surveys are only conducted opportunistically, we do not 
know if or how many lark nests are lost due to military activities at 
91st Division Prairie.
    Industrial development has also reduced habitat available to 
breeding and wintering streaked horned larks. The Rivergate Industrial 
Park, owned by the Port of Portland, is a large industrial site in 
north Portland near the Columbia River; the site is developed on a 
dredge spoil field, and still has some large areas of open space 
between the industrial buildings (Moore 2010a, pp. 12-13). Rivergate 
has been an important breeding site for streaked horned larks, and a 
wintering site for large mixed flocks of up to five horned lark 
subspecies (including the streaked horned lark). In 1990, the field 
used by streaked horned larks at Rivergate measured more than 260 ha 
(650 acres) of open sandy habitat (Dillon 2012, pers. comm.). In the 
years since, new industrial buildings have been constructed on the 
site; now only one patch of 32 ha (79 acres) of open dredge spoil field 
remains (Moore 2011, p. 9) and the breeding population has dropped from 
20 pairs to 5 pairs in this time (Moore 2011, p. 10).
    For the reasons described here, we find that encroaching 
development and conversion to incompatible uses of occupied and 
potentially suitable areas contributes to the ongoing reduction of 
nesting and overwintering habitat for the streaked horned lark and, as 
such, is a threat to the subspecies.
Loss of Ecological Disturbance Processes, Invasive Species, and 
Succession
    The suppression and loss of natural and anthropogenic disturbance 
regimes, such as fire and flooding, across vast portions of the 
landscape has resulted in altered vegetation structure in the prairies 
and meadows and has facilitated invasion by nonnative grasses and woody 
vegetation, rendering habitat unusable for Taylor's checkerspot 
butterflies and streaked horned larks. The basic ecological processes 
that maintain prairies, meadows, and scoured river banks have 
disappeared from, or have been altered on, all but a few protected and 
managed sites. Roadside verges and margins can have both positive and 
negative impacts to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Periodic 
disturbance of road margins, verges, and road cuts may contribute to 
habitat creation due to construction and vehicle use, both of which 
result in frequent disturbance and create conditions conducive to 
colonization by the important larval host plant, the narrow-leaf 
plantain. Creation of habitat features suitable to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly occurs only when the site is allowed to rest 
after it is disturbed. This sequence of events allows the host plant to 
be available to the butterfly, and the butterfly to be able to safely 
use the created habitat without being crushed. However, frequently 
disturbed areas also present a threat and may adversely affect the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly if the timing of vehicle use coincides 
with larval feeding and basking. In the latter case, the created 
habitat may act as a mortality sink, which attracts the butterfly to 
habitat that latter becomes a threat to the subspecies if vehicle use 
crushes food plants or the larvae themselves.
    Historically, the prairies and meadows of the south Puget Sound 
region of Washington and western Oregon are thought to have been 
actively maintained by the native peoples of the region, who lived 
there for at least 10,000 years before the arrival of Euro-American 
settlers (Boyd 1986, entire; Christy and Alverson 2011, p. 93). 
Frequent burning reduced the encroachment and spread of shrubs and 
trees (Boyd 1986, entire; Chappell and Kagan 2001, p. 42; Storm and 
Shebitz 2006, p. 264), favoring open grasslands with a rich variety of 
native plants and animals. Following Euro-American settlement of the 
region in the mid-19th century, fire was actively suppressed on 
grasslands, allowing encroachment by woody vegetation into the 
remaining prairie habitat and oak woodlands (Franklin and Dyrness 1973, 
p. 122; Boyd 1986, entire; Kruckeberg 1991, p. 287; Agee 1993, p. 360; 
Altman et al. 2001, p. 262).
    Fires on the prairie create a mosaic of vegetation conditions, 
which serve to maintain native prairie forbs like Camassia quamash 
(common camas), Achillea millefolium (yarrow), and Lomatium spp. 
(desert parsley or biscuit

[[Page 61476]]

root), which are adult nectar foods for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly. Stands of native perennial grasses (Festuca idahoensis ssp. 
roemeri (Roemer's fescue)) are also well adapted to regular fires and 
produce habitat favorable to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. In 
some prairie patches, fires will reset succession back to bare ground, 
creating early successional vegetation conditions suitable for both 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and streaked horned larks (Pearson and 
Altman 2005, p. 13). The historical fire return frequency on prairies 
has been estimated to be 3 to 5 years (Foster 2005, p. 8).
    The result of fire suppression has been the invasion of the 
prairies and oak woodlands by native and nonnative plant species (Dunn 
and Ewing 1997, p. v; Tveten and Fonda 1999, p. 146), notably woody 
plants such as the native Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and the 
nonnative Scot's broom, and nonnative grasses such as Arrhenatherum 
elatius (tall oatgrass) in Washington and Brachypodium sylvaticum 
(false brome) in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. This increase in 
woody vegetation and nonnative plant species has resulted in less 
available prairie habitat overall, and habitat that is avoided by 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and streaked horned larks (Tveten and 
Fonda 1999, p. 155; Pearson and Hopey 2005, pp. 2, 27; Olson 2011a, pp. 
12, 16). Most butterflies avoid densely forested areas, as they are 
unable to generate enough heat from their own metabolism to provide 
them with the heat and energy they need to fly in shaded conditions. 
Streaked horned larks prefer areas that afford long sight lines and 
have low vegetation; both of which are impeded by the presence of 
trees.
    On tallgrass prairies in midwestern North America, fire suppression 
has led to degradation and the loss of native grasslands (Curtis 1959, 
pp. 296, 298; Panzer 2002, p. 1297). On northwestern prairies, fire 
suppression has allowed Douglas-fir to encroach on and outcompete 
native prairie vegetation for light, water, and nutrients (Stinson 
2005, p. 7). On JBLM alone, over 16,000 acres (6,477 ha) of prairie has 
converted to Douglas-fir forest since the mid-19th century (Foster and 
Shaff 2003, p. 284). Where controlled burns or direct tree removal are 
not used as a management tool, this encroachment will continue to cause 
the loss of open grassland habitats for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly.
    Restoration in some of the south Puget Sound grasslands in 
Washington has resulted in temporary control of Scot's broom and other 
invasive, nonnative plants through the careful and judicious use of 
herbicides, mowing, grazing, and prescribed fire. Prescribed fire has 
been used as a management tool to maintain native prairie composition 
and structure and is generally acknowledged to improve the health and 
composition of grassland habitat by providing a short-term nitrogen 
addition, which results in a fertilizer effect to vegetation, thus 
aiding grasses and forbs as they resprout.
    Unintentional fires ignited by military training burns patches of 
prairie grasses and forbs on JBLM on an annual basis. These light 
ground fires create a mosaic of conditions within the grassland, 
maintaining a low vegetative structure of native and nonnative plant 
composition, and patches of bare soil. Because of the topography of the 
landscape, fires create a patchy mosaic of areas that burn completely, 
some areas that do not burn, and areas where consumption of the 
vegetation is mixed in its effects to the habitat. One of the benefits 
to fire in grasslands is that it tends to kill regenerating conifers, 
and reduces the cover of nonnative shrubs such as Scot's broom, 
although Scot's broom seed stored in the soil can be stimulated by fire 
(Agee 1993, p. 367). Fire also improves conditions for many native 
bulb-forming plants, such as Camassia sp. (camas) (Agee and Dunwiddie 
1984, p. 367). On sites where regular fires occur, such as on JBLM, 
there is a high complement of native plants and fewer invasive species. 
These types of fires promote the maintenance of the native, short-
statured vegetation communities (Severns and Warren 2008, p. 476) 
favored by the Taylor's checkerspot butterflies for larval and nectar 
food resources. Fire management to maintain or restore native 
vegetation is essential to maintaining suitable habitat for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, but the timing of the management 
activity is important, as improperly timed prescribed fire can destroy 
larvae, eggs, or adult butterflies.
    Management practices such as intentional burning and mowing require 
expertise in timing and technique to achieve desired results. If 
applied at the wrong season, frequency, or scale, fire and mowing can 
be detrimental to the restoration of native prairie species. For 
example, during a prescribed fire event that was implemented in an 
adjacent training area on JBLM in late summer 2011, fire occurred in an 
area containing Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat that was under a 
protection agreement. This burn was inconsistent with the prescribed 
burn plan and eliminated a large area of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
larval host and nectaring plants on the 91st Division Prairie. Repeated 
and high intensity burning can result in a lack of vegetation or 
encourage regrowth to nonnative grasses. Where such burning has 
occurred over a period of more than 50 years on the artillery ranges of 
the JBLM, prairies are covered by nonnative forbs and grasses instead 
of native perennial bunchgrasses (Tveten and Fonda 1999, pp. 154-155).
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--On JBLM, the 91st Division Prairie 
is frequently ignited through routine training exercises involving 
ordnance, which prevents invasive shrubs and nonnative grasses and 
native Douglas-fir from encroaching onto the prairie, and sustains 
high-quality habitat (larval host and adult nectar food plants) for 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and the generally high-quality 
condition of the prairie. Vegetation at this site remains in an early 
successional stage that is dominated by native grasses and forbs, such 
as Balsamorhiza deltoidea (deltoid balsamroot), which is an important 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly nectar plant. Fires on grassland 
(prairie) habitat generally have low fuel content and produce regular, 
short-duration fires (Agee 1993, p. 354; Chappell and Kagan 2001, p. 
43), which restricts the establishment of invasive plants and 
encroaching trees and helps to maintain native grasses and forbs. 
Swales and overall topographic heterogeneity prevent the entire 
grassland landscape from being consumed by fire, as grassland fires 
tend to be patchy in their distribution, creating a mosaic of 
conditions. On a patch of this large prairie, nonnative grasses have 
invaded many sites occupied by Taylor's checkerspot butterflies 
(Severns and Warren 2008, p. 476). Several hundred acres (more than 40 
ha) of tall oatgrass is currently encroaching upon the largest Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly population in Washington (JBLM's 91st Division 
Prairie).
    Bald habitat at the Forest Service and WDNR sites where Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies are found were created due to the shallow soil 
conditions or they may have been formerly forested. On bald habitat 
that was formerly forested, these areas appear to have been colonized 
by the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly shortly after they were cleared. 
At the time the trees were harvested from each of these balds they were 
reforested with conifers to comply with the Washington State forest 
practices rules. The establishment and growth of the conifers, and the 
establishment and expansion of Acer macrophyllum (bigleaf maple), 
Holodiscus discolor

[[Page 61477]]

(oceanspray), and other shrubs has resulted in shaded habitat that has 
replaced habitat occupied by the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Sites 
that currently have Taylor's checkerspot butterflies present will 
quickly become unsuitable if trees and shrubs are not removed and if 
the site is not managed specifically for the long-term conservation of 
the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly or the maintenance of bald habitat. 
This is the case for several balds recently occupied by the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly but no longer supporting the subspecies, 
including Bald Hills NAP in Thurston County of south Puget Sound, and 
Highway 112 and Striped Peak in Clallam County, on the north Olympic 
Peninsula.
    A large portion of the existing, occupied Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly habitat on Denman Island in British Columbia, Canada, 
resulted from timber harvest. After the area was logged, Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies colonized the disturbed area from nearby 
suitable habitat. Currently, Alnus rubra (red alder), bigleaf maple, 
and Douglas-fir trees are expanding onto the site, which will directly 
threaten the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat there (COSEWIC 
2011, p. 18). As the forest becomes reestablished on the property, it 
will produce shade and the trees will outcompete the host plants for 
the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly for space, water, light, and 
nutrients. The population of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is expected 
to decline significantly within the next 10 years at this sole Canada 
site if the current habitat on Denman Island is not managed for the 
subspecies (COSEWIC 2011, p. 31).
    We conclude that the loss of ecological disturbance processes; the 
occurrence of invasive, nonnative species; and the natural succession 
of vegetation communities separately and collectively continue to be a 
threat to Taylor's checkerspot butterflies. Changes to the structure 
and composition of the native prairie plant communities contributes to 
the loss of function of the prairie ecosystem and threatens the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly's capability to successfully complete 
its life stage requirements and quickly leads to extirpation of the 
subspecies from specific prairie patches.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Prior to the construction of dams on the 
Columbia River, annual flooding and scouring likely created nesting and 
wintering habitat for streaked horned larks on sandy islands and 
beaches along the river's edge (Stinson 2005, p. 67). Once the dams 
were in place, Salix spp. (willows), Populus trichocarpa (black 
cottonwood), and other vegetation established broadly on the sandbars 
and banks (Rogers 2000, pp. 41-42), resulting in unsuitable habitat for 
larks. Loss of these habitats may have been partially ameliorated by 
the formation of dredge spoil islands that have been established as 
part of the Corps' shipping channel maintenance (Stinson 2005, p. 67).
    The streaked horned lark currently uses sand islands in the lower 
Columbia River for both breeding and wintering habitat; these islands 
are a mosaic of Federal, State, and private lands, but there are no 
management or conservation plans in place to protect larks or these 
important habitats. The Corps has a dredging program to maintain the 
navigation channel in the Columbia River. In 2002, the Corps 
established a deeper navigation channel in the river, a regular 
maintenance dredging program, and a plan for disposition of dredge 
material on the islands in the lower Columbia River (USFWS 2002b, pp. 
1-14). In this plan, the Corps addressed the disposition of dredge 
material in the lower Columbia River, which has the potential to both 
benefit and harm streaked horned larks, depending on the location and 
timing of deposition. Recent studies by Anderson (2010a, p. 29) on the 
islands in the lower Columbia River have shown that fresh dredge 
material stabilizes and develops sparse vegetation suitable for larks 
nesting approximately 3 years after deposition, and can be expected to 
remain suitable for approximately 2 years before vegetation becomes too 
dense (although larks were found to use habitats that did not precisely 
fit this model, and more analysis is underway). Deposition of dredge 
material at the wrong time, however (e.g., during the nesting season), 
can destroy nests and young or degrade suitable habitat. Thus, 
deposition of dredge material can be both a tool for habitat creation 
and a threat for the streaked horned lark.
    Destruction of occupied lark habitat through the deposition of 
dredge materials has been documented several times on the lower 
Columbia River islands (Stinson 2005, p. 67; Pearson and Altman 2005, 
p. 11; Pearson et al. 2008, p. 14). In 2006, dredge spoils were 
deposited on Whites Island while larks were actively nesting. All nests 
at this site were apparently destroyed (Pearson 2012a, pers. comm.). 
This site had at least 21 nests and 13 territories during the 2005 
nesting season (Pearson et al. 2008, p. 21). In a similar situation on 
Rice Island, singing males were observed on Rice Island in June 2000, 
but dredge spoil was placed on the site in July 2000, which destroyed 
nesting habitat during the breeding season (MacLaren 2000, p. 3). In 
2004 on Miller Sands Spit, the Corps deposited dredge material on lark 
breeding habitat, which likely resulted in nest failure (Pearson and 
Altman 2005, p. 10). The Corps recently began working with the Center 
for Natural Lands Management to coordinate dredge spoil depositions 
with timing of lark breeding season (Anderson 2011, in litt.).
    Dredge spoil deposition also creates habitat for Caspian terns 
(Sterna caspia), a native bird species that nests in very large numbers 
in the lower Columbia River; these large terns have been shown to eat 
substantial numbers of salmon smolts, and the reduction of predation by 
terns on young salmon has been the focus of an interagency effort for 
the past decade (Lyons et al. 2011, p. 2). One aspect of the effort to 
reduce the numbers of terns in the lower Columbia River has been a 
program to discourage tern nesting on Rice Island by planting 
vegetation and placing barrier fencing on open, sandy habitats; these 
measures have also reduced habitat available to larks on the island and 
are ongoing (Stinson 2005, p. 73; Roby et al. 2011, p. 14).
    There is ample evidence that larks respond positively to habitat 
management that simulates natural processes. From 2001 through 2004, 
JBLM used nonbreeding season mowing and controlled burns to control 
Scot's broom (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 30). The September 2004 burns 
resulted in increased lark abundance and a dramatic vegetative response 
on 13th Division Prairie; relative to the control sites, late summer 
fire in 2006 resulted in increased use of the burned areas by larks 
immediately after the fires, and in the breeding season following the 
fires (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 30).
    Throughout the year, the streaked horned lark uses areas of bare 
ground or sparse vegetative cover in grasslands. These grasslands may 
be native prairies in the Puget lowlands, perennial or annual grass 
seed fields in the Willamette Valley, or the margins of airport runways 
throughout the range of the species. All of these habitats receive 
management to maintain desired structure: prairies require frequent 
burning or mowing to prevent succession to woodlands; agricultural 
fields are mowed at harvest or burned to reduce weed infestations; 
airports mow to maintain low-stature grasses around airfields to 
minimize attracting hazardous wildlife. Burning and mowing are 
beneficial to larks in that they maintain the habitat structure 
required by the bird, but these activities can also harm larks if the 
activities

[[Page 61478]]

occur during the breeding season when nests and young are present 
(Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 29). In the nesting seasons from 2002 to 
2004, monitoring at the Puget lowlands sites (Gray Army Airfield, 
McChord Field, and Olympia Airport) documented nest failure of 8 
percent of nests caused by mowing over the nests, young, and adults 
(Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 18). Habitat management to maintain low-
stature vegetation is essential to maintaining suitable habitat for the 
streaked horned lark, but the timing of the management is important, as 
improperly timed actions can destroy nests and young.
    We conclude that the loss of natural disturbance that historically 
created habitat for the streaked horned lark continues to be a threat 
to the subspecies due to encroachment of plant species (e.g., trees and 
beach grasses) that reduce available habitat. The Service has developed 
timing recommendations for other forms of manmade disturbance including 
burning, mowing, and dredge spoil deposition. Where a Federal nexus 
exists, the Service has partnered with other agencies to implement 
avoidance strategies for occupied streaked horned lark nesting areas. 
When the recommended timing restrictions are observed, we consider the 
benefit of habitat creation through burning, mowing, and dredge spoil 
deposit outweighs the negative impact of these activities, such that, 
if implemented appropriately, we do not consider such manmade 
disturbance to pose a threat to the subspecies.
Military Training and Associated Activities
    Populations of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and streaked horned 
larks occurring on JBLM are exposed to differing levels of training 
activities on the base. The Department of Defense's (DOD's) proposed 
actions under the ``Grow the Army'' (GTA) initiative include stationing 
5,700 new soldiers, new combat service support units, a combat aviation 
brigade of 120 helicopters, facility demolition and construction to 
support the increased troop levels, additional aviation, maneuvers, and 
live fire training (75 FR 55313; September 10, 2010). The increased 
training activities will affect nearly all training areas at JBLM, 
resulting in an increased risk of accidental fires, and habitat 
destruction and degradation through vehicle travel, dismounted infantry 
training, bivouac activities, and digging. While training areas on the 
base have degraded habitat for these subspecies, with implementation of 
conservation measures, these areas still provide habitat for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Military training on JBLM has 
resulted in direct mortality of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and 
destruction of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat. Vehicle use and 
soldier foot traffic can crush larvae and damage larval host plants. 
These actions disrupt intact prairie plant communities by disturbing 
vegetation and exposing soils, directly introducing invasive plant 
seeds carried in on tires or boots, and accelerating the rate of 
establishment of invasive grasses or other nonnative plants that are 
light-seeded and easily blown onto a site from adjacent areas, like 
Cirsium spp. (thistles), Senecio spp. (groundsel), and Chrysanthemum 
leucanthemum (oxeye daisy). For example, in January 2009, an exercise 
occurred that did not follow the documented training plan, which would 
have restricted vehicles to established roads in order to protect 
sensitive habitat. Instead vehicles moved haphazardly across an area 
known to be occupied by Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and streaked 
horned larks. Approximately 67 ac (27 ha) of prairie were repeatedly 
traversed by eight-wheeled, armored personnel carriers known as 
Strykers. DOD staff later estimated that up to 37.5 ac (15 ha) were 
highly disturbed (Gruhn 2009, pers. comm.), with much of this acreage 
scraped to bare soil (Linders 2009b, entire). This impact would have 
directly affected overwintering larvae by crushing larvae and 
destroying the larvae plants used by Taylor's checkerspot butterflies.
    Taylor's checkerspot butterfly counts were the lowest ever recorded 
at this site during the following spring (Linders 2009a, entire; 
Randolph 2009, p. 4; Thomas 2009, pers. obs). Prior to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly flight season in May 2009, the three brigades of 
Strykers were dispatched away from JBLM and the prairies were not used 
for Stryker training during the spring of 2009 or 2010, which 
corresponds to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly flight period. This 
training break allowed Range 74-76 of the 91st Division Prairie to 
regenerate or recover the vegetative qualities associated with the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark habitat. 
JBLM has subsequently coordinated with the Service to establish 
specific conservation measures regarding vehicle use within this 
training area. Military training also occurs on a specific portion of 
the 91st Division Prairie known as Range 50, where Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly larvae have been translocated during the springs of 2009, 
2010, and 2011, and at the proposed Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
translocation site at 13th Division Prairie.
    Under the GTA initiative, more troops and vehicles will be 
stationed at JBLM; this is likely to result in increased pressure on 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat and larvae, particularly if the 
Army continues training on 91st Division Prairie. It is likely that a 
higher number of troops will equate to a higher number of individuals 
recreating on JBLM in places like Marion and Johnson prairies (this is 
further discussed under ``Recreation,'' below).
    We conclude that the threat of military training continues to have 
significant, habitat-altering impacts on the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly. All training areas on JBLM that are currently occupied by 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies experience regular training, including 
mounted vehicle training and infantry training, with foot soldiers 
directly impacting the area where the subspecies is found. We consider 
military training under present conditions a threat to the short-term 
and long-term conservation of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Military training, including bombardment with 
explosive ordnance and hot downdraft from aircraft, has been documented 
to cause nest failure and abandonment for streaked horned larks at Gray 
Army Airfield and McChord Field at JBLM (Stinson 2005, pp. 71-72). 
These activities harass and may kill some streaked horned larks, but 
the frequent disturbance also helps to maintain sparse vegetation and 
open ground needed for streaked horned lark nesting.
    In the odd-numbered years since 2005, McChord Field has hosted a 
military training event known as the Air Mobility Rodeo. This 
international military training exercise is held at the end of July. 
This event includes aircraft, vehicles, and tents staged on or near 
lark nesting areas, although the majority of these activities take 
place on concrete hardstand areas (Geil 2010, in litt.). In even-
numbered years, McChord Field hosts a public air show known as Air 
Expo, which is scheduled in mid-July. At the Air Expo, aerial events 
incorporate simulated bombing and fire-bombing, including explosives 
and pyrotechnics launched from an area adjacent to the most densely 
populated streaked horned lark nesting site at this location; these 
disturbances likely have adverse effects to fledglings of late nests 
(Stinson 2005, p. 72). Surveys in 2004 detected 31 pairs of streaked 
horned larks at McChord Field (Anderson 2011,

[[Page 61479]]

p. 14). In 2006, the number of lark pairs at McChord Field had dropped 
by more than half to 14 pairs, and the number of lark pairs has 
remained low, with just 11 pairs detected in 2011 (Anderson 2011, p. 
14). The Rodeo and Air Expo events are scheduled to take advantage of 
the good weather that typically occurs in the summer on the south Puget 
Sound; this timeframe also coincides with streaked horned lark nesting 
season, and the disturbance may continue to cause nest failure and 
abandonment (Pearson et al. 2005a, p. 18). During the airshows, tents, 
vehicles, and concession stands are set up in the grassy areas along 
the runways used by streaked horned larks for nesting, and thousands of 
visitors a day line the runways to view the shows. As military training 
has been documented to cause nest failure and abandonment, which can 
lower reproductive success and may adversely affect fledglings, we 
conclude that these activities are a threat to the streaked horned 
lark.
    JBLM has committed to restrictions both seasonally and 
operationally on military training areas, in order to avoid and 
minimize potential affects to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and 
the streaked horned lark. These restrictions include identified 
nontraining areas, seasonally restricted areas during breeding, and the 
adjustment of mowing schedules to protect these subspecies. These 
conservation management practices are outlined in an operational plan 
that the Service has assisted the DOD in developing for JBLM (Thomas 
2012, pers. comm.). While the Service fully supports the implementation 
of these impact minimization efforts and will continue to collaborate 
with DOD to address all aspects of training impacts on the subspecies, 
not all adverse impacts of training on the subspecies are fully 
addressed. Military training as presently conducted continues to be a 
threat to the subspecies at this time.
Restoration Activities
    Management for invasive species and encroachment of conifers 
requires control through equipment, herbicides, and other activities. 
While restoration has conservation value for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and the streaked horned lark, management activities to 
implement restoration may also have inadvertent direct impacts to the 
subspecies that are the target of habitat restoration.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--On occupied sites, Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies are present throughout the year in some life 
cycle form. Restoration activities (application of herbicides, use of 
restoration equipment, and fire) can result in trampling, crushing, and 
destruction of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly larvae and larval host 
plants. Mowing to reduce the cover and competition from woody species, 
if done at the wrong time of year, can crush larval host plants and 
nectar plants used by adult butterflies on a site or even crush and 
kill larvae. Mowing activities should be timed to coincide with the 
diapause period for the subspecies, and mowing should be relatively 
high above the soil level to avoid any larvae that may not have 
burrowed into the soil.
    We conclude that restoration actions to improve Taylors' 
checkerspot butterfly habitat or increase the number of checkerspots on 
specific prairie patches may have short-term adverse impacts to the 
subspecies and could potentially pose a threat to this resident 
subspecies because it is present in some life form stage on relatively 
small habitat patches throughout the entire year. However, any short-
term threat posed by restoration actions is outweighed by the positive 
contributions to the subspecies and its habitat from these actions, 
such that as currently implemented, we do not consider restoration 
actions to rise to the level of posing a threat to the subspecies.
    Streaked Horned Lark--The introduction of Ammophila arenaria 
(Eurasian beachgrass) and A. breviligulata (American beachgrass), 
currently found in high and increasing densities in most of coastal 
Washington and Oregon, has dramatically altered the structure of dunes 
on the outer coast (Wiedemann and Pickart 1996, p. 289). The tall leaf 
canopy of beachgrass creates areas of dense vegetation, which is 
unsuitable habitat for streaked horned lark nesting (MacLaren 2000, p. 
5). Streaked horned larks require sparse, low-stature vegetation with 
at least 16-17 percent bare ground; areas invaded by beachgrass are too 
dense for streaked horned larks. The area suitable for streaked horned 
lark breeding on the Washington coast has decreased as a result of the 
spread of beachgrasses (Stinson 2005, p. 65; USFWS 2011a, p. 4-2). In a 
10-year period (from 1977 to 1987) at Leadbetter Point on the Willapa 
National Wildlife Refuge, spreading beachgrass reduced the available 
nesting habitat for streaked horned larks by narrowing the distance 
from vegetation to water by 112 feet (34 meters) (WDFW 1995, p. 19). 
Since 1985, encroaching beachgrasses have spread to cover over two-
thirds of Damon Point at Grays Harbor, another lark breeding site on 
the Washington coast (WDFW 1995, p. 19). At Damon Point, Scot's broom 
is also encroaching on lark habitat, reducing the area available for 
nesting (Pearson 2011, in litt.). On the Oregon coast, the 
disappearance of the streaked horned lark has been attributed to the 
invasion of exotic beachgrasses and the resultant dune stabilization 
(Gilligan et al. 1994, p. 205).
    Some efforts have been successful in reducing the cover of 
encroaching beachgrasses. The Service's Willapa National Wildlife 
Refuge has restored habitat on Leadbetter Point. In 2007, the area of 
open habitat measured 84 ac (34 ha); after mechanical and chemical 
treatment to clear beachgrass (mostly American beachgrass) and 
spreading oyster shell across 45 ac (18 ha), 121 ac (50 ha) of sparsely 
vegetated, open habitat suitable for lark nesting was created (Pearson 
et al. 2009, p. 23). The main target of the Leadbetter Point 
restoration project was the federally listed western snowy plover 
(Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus), but the restoration actions also 
benefited the streaked horned lark. Before the restoration project, 
this area had just 2 streaked horned lark territories (Pearson et al. 
2005a, p. 7); after the project, an estimated 8 to 10 territories were 
located in and adjacent to the restoration area (Pearson 2012b, pers. 
comm.).
Disease Impacts to Habitat
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Until recently disease was not 
known to be a factor affecting the habitat of the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly. We now have evidence of a plant pathogen (Pyrenopeziza 
plantaginis) known to affect the leaf tissue of the narrow-leaf 
plantain, the primary larval food for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly at several locations, and the exclusive larval food plant at 
all sites known from Oregon. At some locations on the north Olympic 
Peninsula, Taylor's checkerspot butterflies select harsh paintbrush as 
the primary larval food plant and select narrow-leaf plantain as the 
secondary larval host. Pyrenopeziza plantaginis is active in late 
winter through early spring, and contributes to the mortality of leaf 
tissue at a time when post-diapause larvae are feeding on narrow-leaf 
plantain. Narrow-leaf plantain is an exotic but widely distributed, 
invasive, European weed in North America (Wolff and Schaal 1992, pp. 
326, 330). Although the pathogen is common in Europe, it has only 
recently been reported in North America (Severns 2011, in litt.; Stone 
et al. 2011, p. 1). Severns and Warren (2008. p. 476) identified the 
pathogen on leaves of narrow-leaf plantain from remnant prairies in 
Benton County, Oregon,

[[Page 61480]]

where Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are known to occur and where 
they feed exclusively on narrow-leaf plantain. Similar instances of 
leaf mortality were previously attributed to frost damage on prairies 
of south Puget Sound, Washington. Recently, P. plantaginis has been 
identified on narrow-leaf plantain at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in 
Thurston County, and at the 91st Division Prairie on JBLM, in Pierce 
County; both sites are in Washington.
    Uncertainty exists regarding how Pyrenopeziza plantaginis affects 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly larvae. The pathogen has been identified 
locally in Washington at sites where Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
larvae feed on narrow-leaf plantain. The pathogen kills leaf tissue in 
late winter and early spring, coinciding with the time post-diapause 
larvae are feeding (Severns 2011, in litt.), which would lead to 
declining food resource to support Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
larvae. If the food resource is killed by this pathogen, it may affect 
the ability of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly larvae to survive through 
the critical larval feeding period prior to emergence as an adult 
butterfly.
    Pyrenopeziza plantaginis may be a threat to the larval foods 
utilized by the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and, subsequently, may 
indirectly affect the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. At this time, we 
have evidence of the presence of this pathogen at Scatter Creek 
Wildlife Area in Washington, where the pathogen appears common and its 
effect to Plantago is severe (Severns 2011, in litt.) This threat may 
affect populations if the pathogen were to become widespread on sites 
occupied by the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly; however, because we are 
uncertain of its potential as a population-level threat, we conclude 
that disease is not a threat to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
habitat at this time, and we have no evidence to suggest that it is 
likely to become a threat within the near future.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Disease is not known to be a threat to the 
habitats of the streaked horned lark.
Transient Agricultural Habitat
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
is not affected by transient agricultural habitat.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Roughly half of all the agricultural land in 
the Willamette Valley is devoted to grass seed production fields 
(Oregon Seed Council 2012, p. 1). Grasslands--both rare native prairies 
and grass seed fields--are important habitats for streaked horned larks 
in the Willamette Valley; open areas within the grasslands are used for 
both breeding and wintering habitat (Altman 1999, p. 18; Moore and 
Kotaich 2010, p. 11; Myers and Kreager 2010, p. 9). About 420,000 ac 
(170,000 ha) in the Willamette Valley are currently planted in grass 
seed production fields. Demand for grass seed is declining in the 
current economic climate (Oregon Department of Agriculture 2011, p. 1); 
this decreased demand for grass seed has resulted in farmers switching 
to other agricultural commodities, such as wheat or nurseries and 
greenhouses (U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural 
Statistical Service Oregon Field Office 2009, p. 3; Oregon Department 
of Agriculture 2011, p. 1). The continued decline of the grass seed 
industry in the Willamette Valley will likely result in conversion from 
grass seed fields to other agricultural types; this will result in 
fewer acres of suitable breeding and wintering habitat for streaked 
horned larks.
    Another potential threat related to agricultural lands is the 
streaked horned lark's use of ephemeral habitats. In the breeding 
season, streaked horned larks will move into open habitats as they 
become available, and as the vegetation grows taller over the course of 
the season, larks will abandon the site to look for other open habitats 
later in the season (Beason 1995, p. 6). This ability to shift 
locations in response to habitat changes is a natural feature of the 
streaked horned lark's life-history strategies, as breeding in recently 
disturbed habitats is part of their evolutionary history. In the 
Willamette Valley, some habitats in agricultural fields are 
consistently available (e.g., on the margins of gravel roads), while 
other patches of suitable habitat shift from place to place as fields 
are burned, mowed, or harvested. Other suitable sites appear when 
portions of grass fields perform poorly, inadvertently creating optimal 
habitat for larks. The shifting nature of suitable habitat is not in 
itself a threat; the potential threat is in the overall reduction of 
compatible agriculture, which would reduce the area within which 
streaked horned lark habitat could occur.
Summary of Factor A
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Taylor's checkerspot butterflies 
face threats from loss of habitat due to conversion of native 
grasslands to agriculture, and permanent loss when prairies are 
developed for residential or commercial purposes. This decline is 
exemplified by the reduction of populations for the subspecies 
rangewide, including a reduction from over 40 populations to fewer than 
10 populations in Washington, from 13 populations to 2 populations in 
Oregon, and from 24 populations to 1 population known from Canada. 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies also face threats from changes in 
vegetation structure and composition of native grassland-dominated 
plant communities. Changes to vegetation structure and composition can 
occur through conversion to agriculture, through natural succession 
processes, and through invasion by nonnative species (Agee 1993, p. 
345; Chappell and Kagan 2001, p. 42). In addition to the loss of 
grasslands from development, conversion to agriculture, and other uses, 
as well as plant succession, these plant communities are faced with 
degradation due to invasion of the grassland habitat that remains by 
native conifers and nonnative pasture grasses, shrubs, and forbs. As 
grasslands have been converted, the availability of Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly larval host plants and adult nectar plants has 
declined. We consider the negative impacts to the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly from the loss and degradation of its native grassland 
habitats to pose a threat to the subspecies.
    We conclude that disease, specifically Pyrenopeziza plantaginis, 
may pose a potential threat to the larval food plant of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly, and therefore a potential indirect threat to the 
subspecies. However, we have no information to suggest that it is 
currently a threat to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Any threat of 
disease to the larval food plant for this subspecies has the potential 
to become a threat in the future due to the small number of remaining 
populations of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. However, based on 
our review of the best available information, we have no data at this 
point to suggest that it is likely to become a widespread threat in the 
future.
    The current threats to Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are similar 
to those identified at the time the subspecies was determined to be a 
candidate for listing in 2001. Since then, the threat from invasive 
species and their impacts on native vegetation have increased. Other 
threats, particularly the threat to develop Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly habitat, have increased on Denman Island, Canada; in south 
Puget Sound, Washington; and in the Willamette Valley, Oregon (IAE 
2010, p. 1). Moreover, prior to entering two wars in 2003, military 
training (DOD, Army, JBLM) on occupied Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
habitat was lower in intensity and duration. The only remaining high-
quality native habitat occupied by the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
within

[[Page 61481]]

the south Puget Sound region is found on the 91st Division Prairie of 
JBLM, a site of highly active training that can inadvertently result in 
the destruction of larval host plants and crushed larvae.
    Based on negative impacts to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
from current projected development and impacts to habitat, the loss of 
historically occupied locations, military training, recreation, the 
limited distribution of the subspecies, existing and future habitat 
fragmentation, habitat disturbance (including fire), and land use 
changes associated with agriculture and long-term fire suppression, we 
conclude that there are current and ongoing threats to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and its habitat that are expected to continue 
into the future. At all locations presently occupied by the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly, the combined threats to the subspecies through 
the degradation or destruction of its habitat are severe, pervasive, 
and ongoing, including: (1) Conversion of habitat to agriculture, or 
permanent loss of habitat to development; (2) military training that 
has destroyed habitat and led to mortality by crushing eggs and larvae; 
(3) invasion of habitat by native and nonnative woody vegetation; (4) 
loss of natural disturbance processes that otherwise would maintain 
early seral conditions; (5) a restricted and disjunct range of the 
subspecies (see Factor E discussion, below); and (6) small populations 
throughout the subspecies' range (see Factor E discussion, below). The 
continued decline and degradation of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
habitat has resulted in isolated populations occupying small habitat 
patches within degraded prairies, which may lead to further population 
declines or to complete loss and may decrease the geographic 
distribution of the the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. We conclude 
that the current and ongoing threats to the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and its habitat represent significant effects to the 
subspecies and its habitat and will continue into the future.
    Streaked Horned Lark--The streaked horned lark population decline 
in Washington indicates that the observed range contraction for this 
subspecies may be continuing, and the subspecies may disappear from 
that region in the near future. There are many other ongoing threats to 
streaked horned lark's habitat throughout its range, including: (1) 
Conversion to agriculture and industry; (2) loss of natural disturbance 
processes, such as fire and flooding; (3) encroachment of woody 
vegetation; (4) invasion of coastal areas by nonnative beachgrasses; 
and (5) incompatible management practices. The continued loss and 
degradation of streaked horned lark habitat may result in smaller, more 
isolated habitats available to the subspecies, which could further 
depress the rangewide population or reduce the geographic distribution 
of the streaked horned lark. We conclude that the current and ongoing 
threats to streaked horned lark habitat are resulting in a significant 
impact to the subspecies and its habitat and will continue into the 
future.

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

    Overutilization of species results when the number of individuals 
removed from the system exceeds the ability of the population of the 
species to sustain its numbers or reduces populations of the species to 
a level such that it is vulnerable to other influences (threats) upon 
its survival. This overutilization can result from removal of 
individuals from the wild for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Populations of Taylor's checkerspot 
butterflies have declined dramatically during the past decade. We know 
of no overutilization of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly for 
commercial, recreational, or educational purposes. However, scientific 
studies may have inadvertently negatively affected Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly populations at the 13th Division Prairie on JBLM (Vaughan and 
Black 2002). Over 7,000 individuals were observed as recently as 1997, 
but only 10 adults were observed during surveys in 2000, and no 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies have been observed since (Stinson 
2005, p. 94; Linders 2012c, in litt.). Mark-recapture studies were 
conducted at this site for several years during this timeframe, and the 
study methods involved capturing all adults and moving them to a single 
release location. This action likely influenced the population 
demographics, but because no simultaneous population monitoring was 
conducted, it is impossible to know whether there was an effect. 
According to McGarrahan (1997), mark, release, and recapture studies of 
the Bay Edith's checkerspot (Euphydryas editha bayensis) were 
considered a contributing factor in the extirpation of this population 
from Stanford's Jasper Ridge Preserve. There are no current Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly ``mark, release and recapture studies'' in 
progress. Capture of butterflies for study is a potential threat at 
this time, and the trampling, or crushing of eggs, larvae, and pupae 
associated with scientific studies continue to be a potential threat to 
the subspecies, although likely a minor one.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes is not known to be a threat to the 
streaked horned lark.
Summary of Factor B
    In summary, although there is some evidence of historical mortality 
from overutilization for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and there 
may have been recent mortality from scientific studies of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly, we have no reason to believe that current levels 
of utilization, or the potential impacts from scientific studies of the 
subspecies, have caused or will cause the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly to be vulnerable to other threats. Based on the best 
scientific and commercial data available, we have no information to 
suggest that overutilization for commercial, educational, recreational, 
or scientific purposes is now a threat or will become a threat to the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly in the future.
    In addition, there is no evidence that commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational use is now a threat or will become a threat 
to the streaked horned lark in the future.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

Disease
    Most healthy ecosystems include organisms such as viruses, 
bacteria, fungi, and parasites that cause disease. Healthy wildlife and 
ecosystems have evolved defenses to fend off most diseases before they 
have devastating impacts. An ecosystem with high levels of biodiversity 
(diversity of species and genetic diversity within species) is more 
resilient to the impacts of disease because there are greater 
possibilities that some species and individuals within a species have 
evolved resistance, or if an entire species is lost, that there will 
likely be another species to fill the empty niche.
    Where ecosystems are not healthy, due to a loss of biodiversity and 
threats such as habitat loss, climate change, pollutants, or invasive 
species, wildlife and ecosystems are more vulnerable to emerging 
diseases. Diseases caused by or carried by invasive species are 
particularly severe threats, as native wildlife may have no natural 
immunity to them (National Wildlife Federation 2012).
    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial data 
found no

[[Page 61482]]

evidence to indicate that disease is a threat to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly or the streaked horned lark. We conclude that 
disease is not a threat to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly or the 
streaked horned lark now, nor do we anticipate it to become a threat in 
the future.
Predation
    Predation is a process of major importance in influencing the 
distribution, abundance, and diversity of species in ecological 
communities. Generally, predation leads to changes in both the 
population size of the predator and that of the prey. In unfavorable 
environments, prey species are stressed or living at low population 
densities such that predation is likely to have negative effects on all 
prey species, thus lowering species richness. In addition, when a 
nonnative predator is introduced to the ecosystem, negative effects on 
the prey population may be higher than those from co-evolved native 
predators. The effect of predation may be magnified when populations 
are small, and the disproportionate effect of predation on declining 
populations has been shown to drive rare species even further towards 
extinction (Woodworth 1999, pp. 74-75).
    Predation has an impact on populations of the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and the streaked horned lark. The degree of threat to the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly from predation is not as pronounced as 
with the streaked horned lark due to the concentration of defensive 
plant compounds within the larvae and adults that make them distasteful 
to predators.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Generally, butterflies exhibit some 
protective mechanisms to avoid predation, and this is true for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Larvae of the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly sequester iridoid glycosides (plant defensive chemicals) 
during consumption of their larval host plants, narrow-leaf plantain 
and paintbrush species. These compounds are distasteful to predators 
(COSEWIC 2011, p. 36), and generalist predators such as insects and 
spiders avoid checkerspot larvae (Kuussaari et al. 2004, p. 140). 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly larvae also tend to be brightly colored, 
which makes them highly visible and signals the presence of noxious 
compounds to predators, including birds and some invertebrate predators 
that avoid Taylor's checkerspot butterfly larvae (Kuussaari et al. 
2004, p. 139). However, birds are known to attack and consume adult 
butterflies. Bowers et al. (1985, p. 101) found avian predation to be a 
significant factor in mortality of adult variable checkerspot 
butterflies (Euphydryas chalcedona); they also found sex bias in 
selection of prey as the avian predator ate more female variable 
butterflies (less bright red) than male variable checkerspot 
butterflies, adding support to the idea that brightly colored insects 
are avoided (Bowers 1985 p. 100). This is likely a naturally occurring 
predation event, and we conclude that at this time it is currently not 
a threat, nor do we expect it to become a threat to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly in the future.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Predation on adult streaked horned larks has 
not been identified as a threat, but it is the most frequently 
documented source of mortality for eggs and young larks. In most 
studies of streaked horned lark nesting ecology, predation has been the 
primary documented source of nest failure (Altman 1999, p. 18; Pearson 
and Hopey 2004, p. 15; Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 16; Pearson and Hopey 
2008, p. 1; Moore and Kotaich 2010, p. 32). Sixty-nine percent of nest 
failures were caused by predation at four south Puget Sound study sites 
(Gray Army Airfield, 13th Division Prairie, Olympia Airport, and 
McChord Field) in 2002-2004 (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 18). Anderson 
(2006, p. 19) suggests that the primary predators of streaked horned 
lark eggs and young were avian, most likely American crows (Corvus 
brachyrhynchos), although garter snakes (Thamnophis spp.) and western 
meadowlarks have also been documented preying on eggs and young in the 
region (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 16; Pearson and Hopey 2008, p. 4). 
On the Washington coast and lower Columbia River islands, 46 percent of 
nest failures were caused by predation at three study sites (Midway 
Beach, Damon Point, and Puget Island) in 2004 (Pearson and Hopey 2005, 
p. 18). A study of five sites in the Willamette Valley (Corvallis 
Airport, M-DAC Farms, and William L. Finley, Baskett Slough, and Ankeny 
National Wildlife Refuges) determined that 23 to 58 percent of all 
streaked horned lark nests were lost to predation (Moore and Kotaich 
2010, p. 32).
    Video cameras were used to identify predators in this Willamette 
Valley study; documented predators include: Red-tailed hawk (Buteo 
jamaicensis), northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), American kestrel 
(Falco sparverius), great-horned owl (Bubo virginianus), and rats and 
mice (Family Cricetidae) (Moore and Kotaich 2010, p. 36). Streaked 
horned larks are ground-nesting birds and are vulnerable to a many 
other potential predators, including domestic cats and dogs, coyotes 
(Canis latrans), raccoons (Procyon lotor), striped skunks (Mephitis 
mephitis), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), long-tailed weasels (Mustela 
frenata), opossums (Didelphis virginiana), meadow voles (Microtus 
pennsylvanicus), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), and shrews (Sorex 
spp.) (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 17; Stinson 2005, p. 59).
    Predation is a natural part of the streaked horned lark's life 
history, and in stable populations, the effect of predation would not 
be considered a threat to the subspecies. However, in the case of the 
streaked horned lark, the effect of predation may be magnified when 
populations are small, and the disproportionate effect of predation on 
declining populations has been shown to drive rare species even further 
towards extinction (Woodworth 1999, pp. 74-75). It is also possible 
that predation rates are higher now than in the past, due to the 
proximity of human developments and their associated predator 
attractions near lark habitats. We consider the effect of predation on 
streaked horned lark populations, particularly in the south Puget 
Sound, to be a threat to the species.
    The one area where predation does not appear to be a threat to 
nesting streaked horned larks is in Portland at Rivergate Industrial 
Complex and the Southwest Quad at Portland International Airport. In 
2009 and 2010, nesting success was very high, and only a single 
predation event was documented at these sites (Moore 2011, p. 11). The 
reason for the unusually low predation pressure may be that the two 
industrial sites have few predators because both sites are isolated 
from other nearby natural habitats.
    Predation may have contributed to the extirpation of streaked 
horned larks on the San Juan Islands. Streaked horned larks were last 
documented on the islands in 1962 (Lewis and Sharpe 1987, p. 204). The 
introduction of several exotic animal species, including feral ferrets 
(Mustela putorius) and red foxes, to the island roughly coincides with 
the disappearance of streaked horned lark. These introduced predators 
may have significantly affected ground nesting birds and played a role 
in the eventual extirpation of streaked horned larks (Rogers 2000, p. 
42).
Summary of Factor C
    Disease--Based on our review of the best scientific and commercial 
data available, we conclude that disease is not a threat to the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly or streaked horned lark now,

[[Page 61483]]

nor do we expect it to become a threat in the future.
    Predation--We found only one study with evidence to indicate that 
predation from avian predators may be a threat to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly. While predation does occur on the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly, it does not appear to be occurring beyond 
expected natural levels; therefore, we do not consider it to be a 
threat to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly now, nor do we expect it 
to become a threat in the future.
    Because the populations of streaked horned larks are declining and 
small, we find that effect of the threat of predation is likely 
magnified and resulting in a significant impact on the subspecies. 
Therefore, based on our review of the best scientific and commercial 
data available, we conclude that predation is a threat to the streaked 
horned lark now and will continue to be a threat 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. . . .'' In 
relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language to 
require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and tribal 
laws, regulations, 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 to 
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.
    The following section includes a discussion of Federal, State, or 
local laws, regulations, or treaties that apply to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly or streaked horned lark. It includes legislation 
for Federal land management agencies and State and Federal regulatory 
authorities affecting land use or other relevant management.
Canadian Laws and Regulations
    In British Columbia, the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and 
streaked horned lark are on the Conservation Data Centre's Red List. 
The Red List includes ecological communities, indigenous species, and 
indigenous subspecies that are extirpated, endangered, or threatened in 
British Columbia; placing taxa on the Red List flags them as being at 
risk and requiring investigation, but does not confer any protection 
(British Columbia Ministry of Environment 2012, p. 1).
    In 2003, the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, and in 2005, the 
streaked horned lark, were determined to be endangered under the 
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) (Environment Canada 2007, p. iii). 
SARA makes it an offense to kill, harm, harass, capture, or take an 
individual of a listed species that is endangered or threatened; 
possess, collect, buy, sell, or trade an individual of a listed species 
that is extirpated, endangered, or threatened, or its part or 
derivative; and damage or destroy the residence of one or more 
individuals of a listed endangered or threatened species or of a listed 
extirpated species if a recovery strategy has recommended its 
reintroduction.
    For many of the species listed under SARA, the prohibitions on harm 
to individuals and destruction of residences are limited to Federal 
lands, but this limitation is inapplicable to migratory birds protected 
under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, including streaked horned 
lark (Statutes of Canada (S.C). ch. 29, sec. 34). Hence, SARA protects 
streaked horned larks, where present, from harm and destruction of 
their residences, not only on Federal lands, but also on provincial and 
private lands, where most of the remaining habitat for the species 
occurs. Moreover, SARA mandates development and implementation of a 
recovery strategy and action plans (S.C. ch. 29, secs. 37, 47). 
Invertebrate species assessed by the Committee on the Status of 
Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as endangered will be protected 
by the British Columbia Wildlife Act and Wildlife Amendment Act, once 
these regulations are finalized (COSEWIC 2011, p. 44).
    The horned lark (all subspecies) is also protected under Canada's 
Federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA) (S.C. ch. 22), 
which is their domestic legislation similar to the United States' 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA; 16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.). The 
MBCA and its implementing regulations prohibit the hunting of migratory 
nongame birds and the possession or sale of ``migratory birds, their 
nests, or eggs'' (S.C. ch. 22, secs. 5, 12).
    Although British Columbia has no stand-alone endangered species 
act, the provincial Wildlife Act protects virtually all vertebrate 
animals from direct harm, except as allowed by regulation (e.g., 
hunting or trapping). Legal designation as endangered or threatened 
under the Wildlife Act increases the penalties for harming a species, 
and also enables the protection of habitat in a Critical Wildlife 
Management Area (British Columbia Wildlife Act 1996, accessed online). 
The streaked horned lark is not listed under Canada's provincial 
Wildlife Act as an endangered or threatened species.
    To date, there is no finalized recovery strategy for the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly in Canada (COSEWIC 2011, p. 44). A majority (97 
percent) of the known populations observed in Canada occur on private 
land on Denman Island, which is not protected from development by 
individual landowners; approximately 1,173 ac (475 ha) of this private 
land has been officially transferred to the government and will become 
a Provincial Park or Ecological Reserve (COSEWIC 2011, p. 45). A final 
recovery strategy for the streaked horned lark was released in 2007 
(COSEWIC 2011, p. 40); the streaked horned lark is essentially 
extirpated in Canada, and the recovery goal for this subspecies is to 
reestablish a breeding population of at least 10 breeding pairs at a 
minimum of 3 sites within its historical breeding range in Canada 
(Environment Canada 2007, p. iv). Based on our evaluation, we have 
determined that SARA provides protections for both the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark given their limited 
occurrences in British Columbia, and, additionally, the streaked horned 
lark is afforded protections under the MBCA.
U.S. Federal Laws and Regulations
    There are no Federal laws in the United States that specifically 
protect the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. The Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act (MBTA) (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.) is the only Federal law in the 
United States currently providing specific protection for the streaked 
horned lark due to its status as a migratory bird. The MBTA prohibits 
the following actions, unless permitted by Federal regulation:

to ``pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or 
kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer 
to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, 
cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for 
transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause 
to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or 
export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird, 
or any product, whether or not manufactured.''


[[Page 61484]]


    There are no provisions in the MBTA that prevent habitat 
destruction unless direct mortality or destruction of active nests 
occurs (for example, as was described in Factor A, above, for dredge 
spoil disposal in the breeding season), nor does the MBTA require any 
planning to recover declining species or provide funding to protect 
individuals or their habitats. Therefore, we conclude that the MBTA 
does not address threats to the streaked horned lark from further 
population declines associated with habitat loss or inappropriate 
management.
    The Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670) authorizes the Secretary of Defense 
to develop cooperative plans with the Secretaries of Agriculture and 
the Interior for natural resources on public lands. The Sikes Act 
Improvement Act of 1997 requires Department of Defense installations to 
prepare integrated natural resources management plans (INRMPs) that 
provide for the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources on 
military lands consistent with the use of military installations to 
ensure the readiness of the Armed Forces. INRMPs incorporate, to the 
maximum extent practicable, ecosystem management principles and provide 
the landscape necessary to sustain military land uses. While INRMPs are 
not technically regulatory mechanisms because their implementation is 
subject to funding availability, they can be an added conservation tool 
in promoting the recovery of endangered and threatened species on 
military lands.
    On JBLM in Washington, several policies and an INRMP are in place 
to provide conservation measures to grassland associated species that 
occupy training lands on the military base. JBLM in partnership with 
local agencies and nongovernmental organizations has provided funding 
to conserve these species through the acquisition of new conservation 
properties and management actions intended to improve the amount and 
distribution of habitat for these species. JBLM has also provided 
funding to reintroduce declining species (e.g., the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly) into suitable habitat on and off military lands. 
In June 2011, representatives from DOD (Washington, DC, office) met 
with all conservation partners to assess the success of this program 
and make decisions as to future funding needs. Support from the 
Garrison Commander of JBLM and all partners resulted in an increase in 
funding for habitat management and acquisition projects for these 
species on JBLM.
    The Service has worked closely with the DOD to develop protection 
areas within the primary habitat for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
on JBLM. These include areas where no vehicles are permitted on 
occupied habitat, where vehicles will remain on roads only, and where 
foot traffic is allowed.
    JBLM policies include Army Regulation 420-5, which covers the 
INRMP, and AR-200-1. This is an agreement between each troop and DOD 
management that actions taken by each soldier will comply with 
restrictions placed on specific training areas, or range lands. Within 
the INRMP, the wildlife branch of the DOD developed updated endangered 
species management plans (ESMPs) that provide site-specific management 
and protection actions that are taken on military lands for the 
conservation of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned 
lark. The ESMPs provide assurances of available funding, and an 
implementation schedule that determines when certain activities will 
occur and who will accomplish these actions. ESMPs require regular 
updates to account for dispersal of animals, or for activities to 
enhance habitat for animals that may have been translocated to a new 
habitat patch. INRMPs also have a monitoring component that would 
require modifications, or adaptive management, to planning actions when 
the result of that specific action may differ from the intent of the 
planned action. Based on the military's efforts, we conclude that 
although military actions may continue to harm individuals of the 
species, through the Sikes Act, the JBLM's INRMP includes provisions 
that will promote protection and conservation practices to support the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark, and prevent 
further population declines associated with habitat loss or 
inappropriate management on JBLM properties. However, even with the 
above mitigating efforts implemented by the military, we conclude that 
the regulatory mechanisms in place at JBLM are not sufficient to 
ameliorate the threats to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly rangewide.
    The National Park Service Organic Act of 1916, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1 et seq.), states that the National Park Service (NPS) ``shall 
promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national 
parks, monuments, and reservations . . . to conserve the scenery and 
the national and historic objects and the wild life therein and to 
provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means 
as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future 
generations.'' The NPS management policies indicate that the Park 
Service will meet its obligations under the National Park Service 
Organic Act and the Endangered Species Act to both proactively conserve 
listed species and prevent detrimental effects on these species. This 
includes working with the Service and undertaking active management 
programs to inventory, monitor, restore, and maintain listed species 
habitats, among other actions.
    The National Forest Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.)) has 
required the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service to 
incorporate standards and guidelines into land and resource management 
plans, including provisions to support and manage plant and animal 
communities for diversity and for the long-term, rangewide viability of 
native species (see 16 U.S.C. 1604(g)(3)(B)). The regulations at 36 CFR 
219 provide a framework to guide the collaborative and science-based 
development, amendment, and revision of land management plans. This 
framework is designed to promote healthy, resilient, diverse, and 
productive national forests and grasslands with a range of social, 
economic, and ecological benefits now and for future generations. In 
the face of changing environmental conditions and stressors, such as a 
changing climate, the regulations require plans to include plan 
components to: (1) Maintain and restore ecosystem and watershed health 
and resilience (ecological integrity); (2) protect key resources on the 
unit, including water, air, and soil; and (3) address water quality and 
riparian area protection and restoration.
    The regulations at 36 CFR 219 contain a strong implementation 
approach to provide for the diversity of plant and animal communities 
and the persistence of native species in the plan area. This approach 
requires that plans use a complementary ecosystem and species-specific 
approach to maintaining the diversity of plant and animal communities 
and the persistence of native species in the plan area. The intent is 
to provide the ecological conditions (habitat) necessary to keep common 
native species common, contribute to the recovery of endangered and 
threatened species, conserve proposed and candidate species, and 
maintain viable populations of each species of conservation concern 
within the plan area. The regulations require that plans provide the 
ecological conditions necessary to contribute to the recovery of 
endangered and threatened species, and to conserve candidate and 
proposed species. In addition, the

[[Page 61485]]

requirements for restoration and ecological sustainability are intended 
to reduce the risk that species will become listed as endangered or 
threatened in the future.
    On USDA Forest Service lands, management for listed and candidate 
species, as well as species of concern, follow Forest Service Sensitive 
Species policy (Kerwin and Huff 2007, p. 6). For the Forest Service, 
these policies require the agency to maintain viable populations of all 
native and desired nonnative wildlife, fish, and plant species in 
habitats distributed throughout their geographic range on National 
Forest System lands. Management ``must not result in a loss of species 
viability or create significant trends toward Federal listing'' for any 
identified Sensitive Species (Kerwin and Huff 2007, p. 6).
    The Olympic National Forest is in the process of developing site 
management plans for each location where the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly is known to occur. This planning document will call for 
restoration actions to removed encroaching conifers and shrubs, 
nonnative plant removal and control, road management, and possibly 
planting or seeding of larval host plants (Holtrop 2010, p. 7). Because 
this planning process is not finished, however, we do not rely on it in 
our assessment of the adequacy of Forest Service regulatory mechanisms. 
While a Federal candidate species, and following implementation of this 
final rule (see DATES), as a federally listed species, the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly receives support from the Forest Service 
Interagency Special Status and Sensitive Species Program (Huff, 2011, 
pers. comm.). Based on our review, we conclude that the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark are protected from 
further population declines associated with habitat loss or 
incompatible management on Forest Service lands.
    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd et seq.) establishes the protection of biodiversity as the 
primary purpose of the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) system. This has 
led to various management actions to benefit the federally listed 
species including development of a comprehensive conservation plans 
(CCP) on NWRs. CCPs typically set goals and list needed actions to 
protect and enhance populations of key wildlife species on refuge 
lands. The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is not known to occur on any 
NWR. However, streaked horned larks occur on the Willapa NWR on the 
Washington coast and in the Willamette Valley Complex on the William L. 
Finley, Ankeny, and Baskett Slough NWRs. The CCPs for the Willapa NWR 
and all the units in the Willamette Valley Complex contain habitat 
conservation measures to address threats such as habitat degradation 
and benefit streaked horned larks; measures include surveys, habitat 
enhancement, and removal of invasive plants (USFWS 2011a, p. 2-34; 
USFWS 2011b, pp. 2-47--2-48). The joint CCP for the Lewis and Clark and 
Julia Butler Hansen NWRs in the lower Columbia River states that 
streaked horned larks do not occur on the refuges, although they do 
occur on suitable habitats near the refuge parcels (USFWS 2010, p. 4-
37). The joint CCP identifies actions to benefit streaked horned larks 
on off-refuge lands (but that are within the refuge acquisition 
boundary), including working with the Corps to manage the dredge spoil 
deposition program to benefit larks (USFWS 2010, pp. 2-29--2-30).
    CCPs detail program planning levels that are sometimes 
substantially above current budget allocations, and as such, are 
primarily used for strategic planning and priority setting; inclusion 
of a project in a CCP does not guarantee that the project will be 
implemented. The CCPs at the Willapa and Willamette Valley NWRs 
specifically provide for the conservation of the streaked horned lark, 
and implementation of the conservation measures in the refuge CCPs 
could benefit as many as 10 nesting pairs of larks at Willapa NWR 
(USFWS 2011a, pp. 4-44--4-45) and likely more than 50 pairs at the 
three Willamette Valley NWRs (Moore 2009, pp. 5-9). These actions may 
improve the status of streaked horned larks on the refuges. Therefore 
based on our review, we conclude that streaked horned lark is protected 
from further population declines associated with habitat loss or 
incompatible management on NWR lands.
State Laws and Regulations
    Although there is no State endangered species act in Washington, 
the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has authority to list 
species (Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 77.12.020). State-listed 
species are protected from direct take, but their habitat is not 
protected (RCW 77.15.120). The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and 
streaked horned lark are listed by the WDFW and are listed as 
critically imperiled (S1) by the Washington Natural Heritage Program. 
State listings generally consider only the status of the species within 
the State's borders, and do not depend upon the same considerations as 
a potential Federal listing. Unoccupied or unsurveyed habitat is not 
protected unless by County prairie ordinances or other similar rules or 
laws.
    The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark are 
Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitats and Species Program 
(WDFW 2008, pp. 19, 80, 120). As Priority Species, the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark may benefit from some 
protection of their habitats under environmental reviews of 
applications for county or municipal development permits (Stinson 2005, 
pp. 46, 70). For the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, WDFW has developed 
a recommended approach to protect the species on private property. 
Their approach is non-regulatory and encourages landowners to engage in 
cooperative efforts to protect and conserve Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly habitat. However, State regulatory mechanisms appear to be 
insufficient to protect these species in areas where permits are not 
required or requested. We therefore conclude that Washington State 
regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark and do not protect these 
species from further population declines associated with habitat loss 
or inappropriate management.
    Under the Washington State Forest Practices Act (RCW 76.09, 
accessed online 2012), WDNR must approve certain activities related to 
growing, harvesting, or processing timber on all local government-
owned, State-owned, and privately owned forest lands. WDNR's mission is 
to protect public resources while maintaining a viable timber industry. 
The primary goal of the forest practices rules is to achieve protection 
of water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and capital improvements 
while ensuring that harvested areas are reforested. Presently, the 
Washington State forest practices rules do not specifically protect 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies or streaked horned larks; only the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly actually occurs within areas where 
forest practices rules might apply. Landowners have the option to 
develop a management plan for the species if it resides on their 
property, or if landowners choose to not develop a management plan for 
the species with WDFW, their forest practices application will be 
conditioned to protect this public resource. If this approach does not 
provide the required protections for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly, then WDFW and WDNR may request the Forest Practice Board to 
initiate rulemaking, and possibly, an emergency

[[Page 61486]]

rule would be developed (Whipple 2008, pers. comm.).
    The WDNR also manages approximately 66,000 ac (26,710 ha) of lands 
as Natural Area Preserves (NAP). NAPs provide the highest level of 
protection for excellent examples of unique or typical land features in 
Washington State. Based on their proactive management, these NAPs 
provide protection for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly on WDNR 
lands.
    Oregon has a State Endangered Species Act (ESA), which was last 
updated in 1998. The streaked horned lark is not State-listed, and the 
State does not protect invertebrates like the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly under the State ESA (Oregon ESA 2004, p. 3). The list of 
endangered and threatened species tracked by the Oregon Department of 
Fish and Wildlife does not include insects, and does not classify the 
streaked horned lark with any conservation status. When an Oregon 
``native wildlife'' species is federally listed as endangered or 
threatened, it is not automatically included as a State-listed species. 
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission may review the available 
information and make a finding regarding State listing; when a species 
is State-listed in Oregon, it receives some protection and management, 
primarily on State-owned or managed lands (OAR 635-100-0100 to OAR 635-
100-0180; ORS 496.171 to ORS 496.192).
    The Oregon Forest Practices Act (ORS 527.610 to 527.992 and OAR 
Chapter 629, Divisions 600 to 665) lists protection measures specific 
to private and State-owned forested lands in Oregon. These measures 
include specific rules for resource protection, including endangered 
and threatened species; riparian areas along lakes, streams, springs, 
and seeps; and wetlands. Compliance with the forest practice rules does 
not substitute for or ensure compliance with the Federal Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Landowners and operators are 
advised that Federal law prohibits a person from taking certain 
endangered or threatened species that are protected under the Act (OAR 
629-605-0105). Neither the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly nor the 
streaked horned lark are forest-dependent species; therefore neither 
species is likely to be directly affected by the Oregon Forest 
Practices Act.
Local Laws and Regulations
    The Washington State Growth Management Act of 1990 (GMA) requires 
all jurisdictions in the State to designate and protect critical areas. 
The State defines five broad categories of critical areas, including: 
(1) Wetlands; (2) areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers 
used for potable water; (3) fish and wildlife habitat conservation 
areas; (4) frequently flooded areas; and (5) geologically hazardous 
areas. Quercus garryana (Oregon white oak) habitat and prairie both 
predominantly fall into the category of fish and wildlife habitat 
conservation areas, although due to the coarse nature of prairie soils 
and the presence of wet prairie habitat across the landscape, critical 
area protections for crucial aquifer recharge areas and wetlands may 
also address prairie habitat protection.
    Within counties, the County Areas Ordinance (CAO) applies to all 
unincorporated areas, but incorporated cities are required to 
independently address critical areas within their urban growth area. 
The incorporated cities within the range of the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and streaked horned lark are: (1) Shelton (Mason County); and 
(2) Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Tenino, and Yelm (Thurston County), all 
in the State of Washington.
    In 2009, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners adopted Interim 
Ordinance No. 14260, which strengthened protections for prairie and 
Oregon white oak habitat in consideration of the best available 
science. The County worked with the Service and WDFW to include an up-
to-date definition of prairie habitat and to delineate soils where 
prairie habitat is likely to occur. In July 2010, the ordinance was 
renewed and amended, including revisions to the prairie soils list and 
changes to administrative language. Since July 2010, the interim 
prairie ordinance has been renewed on a 6-month basis and is currently 
in place. Several prairie species, including the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and streaked horned lark, were also included as important 
species subject to critical areas regulation (Thurston County 2012, p. 
1).
    County staff use the known presence or historical locations of the 
Taylor's checkerspot or streaked horned lark to determine whether these 
species may be present at a site and impacted by the land use activity. 
After a field review, if one of these species is found on the site, the 
County requires a habitat management plan (HMP) to be developed, 
typically by a consultant for the landowner, in accordance with WDFW's 
management recommendations. This HMP specifies how site development 
should occur, and assists developers in achieving compliance with CAO 
requirements to minimize impact to the prairie habitat and species. The 
HMPs typically include onsite restoration and enhancement activities. 
Mitigation for prairie impacts may also be required, on-site or off 
(Thurston County 2012, p. 2).
    In Clallam, Pierce, and Mason Counties, specific critical area 
ordinances have not been identified for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly or streaked horned lark. However, prairie habitats and 
species garner some protection under Fish (or Aquatic) and Wildlife 
Habitat Conservation Areas (Mason County 2009, p. 64; Clallam County 
2012, Part Three, entire; Pierce County 2012, pp. 18E.40-1-3). All 
developments within these areas are required to: Preserve and protect 
habitat adequate to support viable populations of native wildlife 
(Clallam County 2012, Part Three, entire); achieve ``no net loss'' of 
species and habitat where, if altered, the action may reduce the 
likelihood that these species survive and reproduce over the long term 
(Pierce County 2012, p. 18E.40-1); and support viable populations and 
protect habitat for Federal or State listed fish or wildlife (Mason 
County 2009, p. 63). While these regulations are likely adequate for 
the management of species with stable populations and large ranges, the 
loss of individual animals can have a cumulative impact deleterious to 
species facing a wide range of other threats and that already have 
decreased numbers of individuals or populations, such as the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly or streaked horned lark.
    County-level CAOs do not apply to incorporated cities within county 
boundaries; thus, the incorporated cities of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, 
Yelm, and Tenino that overlap the range of the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and streaked horned lark do not provide the same specificity 
of protection for these taxa as the Thurston County CAO. Below, we 
address the relevant city ordinances that overlap these species' 
ranges. We conclude below with a summary of whether we deem these 
existing city ordinances inadequate for the conservation of the 
Taylor's checkerspot and streaked horned lark.
    The City of Olympia--The City of Olympia's municipal code states 
that ``The Department [City] may restrict the uses and activities of a 
development proposal which lie within one thousand feet of important 
habitat or species location,'' defined by Washington State's Priority 
Habitat and Species (PHS) Management Recommendations of 1991, as 
amended'' (Olympia Municipal Code (OMC) 18.32.315 B). When development 
is proposed within

[[Page 61487]]

1,000 feet of habitat of a species designated as important by 
Washington State, the Olympia CAO requires the preparation of a formal 
``Important Habitats and Species Management Plan,'' unless waived by 
the WDFW (OMC 18.32.320).
    The City of Lacey--The City of Lacey CAO includes in its definition 
of critical area any area identified as habitat for a Federal or State 
endangered, threatened, or sensitive species or State-listed priority 
habitat and calls these ``habitat conservation areas'' (HCAs) (Lacey 
Municipal Code (LMC) 14.33.060). These areas are defined through 
individual contract with qualified professional biologists on a site-
by-site basis as development is proposed. The code further states that 
``No development shall be allowed within a habitat conservation area or 
buffer [for a habitat conservation area] with which state or federally 
endangered, threatened, or sensitive species have a primary 
association'' (LMC 14.33.117).
    The City of Tumwater--The City of Tumwater CAO outlines protections 
for ``habitat critical areas'' and for ``habitats and species of local 
importance.'' Tumwater's habitat critical areas are established on a 
case-by-case basis by a ``qualified professional'' as development is 
proposed, and the habitat critical areas are required to be consistent 
with the ``recommendations issued by the Washington State Department of 
Fish and Wildlife'' (Tumwater Municipal Code (TMC) 16.32.60). Species 
of local importance are defined as locally significant species that are 
not State-listed as endangered, threatened, or sensitive, but live in 
Tumwater and are of special importance to the citizens of Tumwater for 
cultural or historical reasons, or if the city is a critically 
significant portion of its range (TMC 16.32.055 A). Tumwater is 
considered a ``critically significant portion of a species' range if 
the species' population would be divided into nonviable populations if 
it is eliminated from Tumwater'' (TMC 16.32.055 A2). Species of local 
importance are further defined as State monitor or candidate species 
where Tumwater is a significant portion of its range such that a 
significant reduction or elimination of the species from Tumwater would 
result in changing the status of the species to that of State 
endangered, threatened, or sensitive (TMC 16.32.055 A3).
    The City of Yelm--The municipal code of Yelm states that it will, 
``regulate all uses, activities, and developments within, adjacent to, 
or likely to affect one or more critical areas, consistent with the 
best available science'' (Yelm Municipal Code/(YMC) 14.08.010 E4f) and 
mandates that ``all actions and developments shall be designed and 
constructed to avoid, minimize, and restore all adverse impacts.'' 
Further, it states that ``no activity or use shall be allowed that 
results in a net loss of the functions or values of critical areas'' 
(YMC 14.08.010 G) and ``no development shall be allowed within a 
habitat conservation area or buffer which state or federally 
endangered, threatened, or sensitive species have a primary 
association, except that which is provided for by a management plan 
established by WDFW or applicable state or federal agency'' (YMC 
14.080.140 D1a). The City of Yelm municipal code states that by 
``limiting development and alteration of critical areas'' it will 
``maintain healthy, functioning ecosystems through the protection of 
unique, fragile, and valuable elements of the environment, and . . . 
conserve the biodiversity of plant and animal species'' (17.08.010 A4b) 
.
    The City of Tenino--The City of Tenino municipal code gives 
development regulations for critical areas and natural resource lands 
that include fish and wildlife habitat areas (Tenino Municipal Code 
(TMC) 18D.10.030 A) and further ``protects unique, fragile, and 
valuable elements of the environment, including critical fish and 
wildlife habitat'' (TMC 18D.10.030 D). The City of Tenino references 
the DNR critical areas fish and wildlife habitat areas, stream typing 
map and the WDFW PHS program and PHS maps as sources to identify fish 
and wildlife habitat (TMC 18D.10.140 E1, 2). The City also defines 
critical fish and wildlife species habitat areas as those areas known 
to support or have, ``a primary association with State or Federally 
listed endangered, threatened, or sensitive species of fish or wildlife 
(specified in 50 CFR 17.11, 50 CFR 17.12, WAC 232-12-011) and which, if 
altered, may reduce the likelihood that the species will survive and 
reproduce over the long term'' (TMC 18D.40.020A, B).
    The City of Shelton--The CAO for the city of Shelton (Mason County) 
specifies compliance with the PHS through designation of habitat 
conservation areas (HCAs) (Shelton Municipal Code (SMC) 21.64.300 B1), 
indicating that where HCAs are designated, development will be 
curtailed (SMC 21.64.010 B), except at the discretion of the director 
(city), who may allow single-family development at such sites without a 
critical areas assessment report if development is not believed to 
directly disturb the components of the HCA (SMC 21.64.360 B).
Summary of Local Laws and Regulations
    Each city's CAO has been crafted to preserve the maximum amount of 
biodiversity while at the same time encouraging high-density 
development within their respective urban growth areas. Each city 
requires that potential fish and wildlife habitat be surveyed by 
qualified professional habitat biologists as development is proposed. A 
habitat conservation area (HCA) is determined according to the WDFW 
priority habitat and species list. If an HCA is identified at a site, 
the development of the parcel is then subject to the CAO regulations. 
Mitigation required by each city's CAO prioritizes reconsideration of 
the proposed development action in order to avoid the impact to the 
HCA.
    For the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark, 
only known or historical locations are considered prior to applying the 
CAOs. There are currently no WDFW priority habitat and species 
recommendations for these species, and no surveys are completed for 
these species in suitable habitats that may be affected by development 
or site disturbance.
    Connectivity of populations, abundance of resources (prey species 
or food plants), and undisturbed habitat are three primary factors 
affecting plant and animal populations. The piecemeal pattern that 
development unavoidably exhibits is difficult to reconcile with the 
needs of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark 
within a given urban growth area. Further, previously common species 
may become uncommon due to disruption by development, and the 
fragmentary protection of small pockets of habitat is unlikely to 
prevent extirpation of some species without intensive species 
management, which is beyond the scope of these individual CAOs. The 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark have been 
affected by habitat loss through development and conversion. Protective 
measures undertaken during development of lands may provide benefits 
for these species; however, based on our review of the Washington 
County, State, and city regulatory mechanisms, we conclude that these 
measures are currently inadequate to protect the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and streaked horned lark from further population declines 
associated with habitat loss, inappropriate management, and loss of 
connectivity. Because neither the Taylor's checkerspot nor the streaked 
horned lark has a widespread distribution, we are unable to invoke the 
WDFW priority

[[Page 61488]]

habitat and species recommendations as land is developed and habitat 
lost in areas not currently occupied by either subspecies, and 
therefore we conclude these regulatory mechanisms are inadequate for 
the purpose of conserving these subspecies.
    In Oregon, the Land Conservation and Development Commission in 1974 
adopted ``Goal 5,'' a broad Statewide planning goal that covers more 
than a dozen resources, including wildlife habitats and natural areas. 
Goal 5 and related Oregon administrative rules (Chapter 660, Divisions 
16 and 23) describe how cities and counties are to plan and zone land 
to conserve resources listed in the goal.
    Goal 5 and its rules establish a five-step planning process for 
Oregon's cities and counties: (1) Inventory local occurrences of 
resources listed in Goal 5 and decide which ones are important; (2) 
identify potential land uses on or near each resource site and any 
conflicts that might result; (3) analyze economic, social, 
environmental, and energy consequences of such conflicts; (4) decide 
whether the resource should be fully or partially protected, and 
justify the decision; and (5) adopt measures such as zoning to put that 
policy into effect. This five-step Goal 5 process was established by 
rules adopted in 1982, and revised in 1996. The revisions tailored the 
process to the individual resources covered by Goal 5.
    Local governments identify conflicting uses that exist, or could 
occur, with regard to significant Goal 5 resource sites. A local 
government may determine that one or more significant Goal 5 resource 
sites are conflicting uses with another significant resource site. 
Local governments analyze the consequences that could result from 
decisions to allow, limit, or prohibit a conflicting use. The local 
government determines the level of protection for each significant 
site. Local governments determine whether to allow, limit, or prohibit 
identified conflicting uses for significant resource sites. A local 
government may decide that the conflicting use should be allowed fully, 
notwithstanding the possible impacts on the resource site.
    In summary, Goal 5 is a required planning process that allows local 
governments to make decisions about land use regulations and whether to 
protect the individual resources based upon potential conflicts 
involving economic, social, environmental, and energy consequences. It 
does not require minimum levels of protections for natural resources, 
but does require weighing the various impacts to resources from land 
use. Based on our review of Oregon State regulatory mechanisms, we 
conclude that they are inadequate to protect the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly or streaked horned lark from further population declines 
associated with habitat loss or inappropriate management, because the 
program recommends, but does not require, that local governments make 
planning decisions that result in protection of sensitive resources.
Summary of Factor D
    In summary, the existing regulatory mechanisms described above are 
not sufficient to significantly reduce or remove the existing threats 
to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark. The 
Canadian recovery strategy is a positive forward step for streaked 
horned lark, although, as the species is thought to be extirpated from 
Canada, it is unlikely to result in a change in the streaked horned 
lark's downward trend across its range. Lack of essential habitat 
protection under State laws leaves these species at continued risk of 
habitat loss and degradation in Washington and Oregon. National 
Wildlife Refuges provide important protections for streaked horned lark 
habitat in Washington and Oregon.
    On JBLM, regulations and recently developed ``training range 
standard operating procedures'' applying to the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and streaked horned lark are covered by the current INRMP and 
ESMP. We find that the military training, as it currently occurs, 
causes direct mortality of individuals and impacts habitat for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark in all areas 
where training and the subspecies overlap. We must therefore conclude 
that military training, despite the policies and regulations in place 
on JBLM, will continue to result in mortality events and loss and 
destruction of occupied Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat patches; 
thus our conclusion is that existing regulatory mechanisms are 
inadequate on JBLM lands.
    The Washington CAOs and Oregon's planning process Goal 5 generally 
provide conservation measures to minimize habitat removal and direct 
effects to the the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned 
lark. However, habitat removal and degradation, direct loss of 
individuals, increased fragmentation, decreased connectivity, and the 
lack of consistent regulatory mechanisms to address the threats 
associated with these effects are not prohibited under these State 
processes, and adverse effects to these species continue to occur.
    Based upon our review of the best commercial and scientific data 
available, we conclude that the existing regulatory mechanisms are 
inadequate to reduce the threats to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
and streaked horned lark now or in the future.

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

Low Genetic Diversity, Small or Isolated Populations, and Low 
Reproductive Success
    Most species' populations fluctuate naturally, responding to 
various factors such as weather events, disease, and predation. Purvis 
(2000, p. 3), however, suggested that these factors have less impact on 
a species with a wide and continuous distribution. Populations that are 
small, fragmented, or isolated by habitat loss or modification of 
naturally patchy habitat, and other human-related factors, are more 
vulnerable to extirpation by natural, randomly occurring events, to 
cumulative effects, and to genetic effects that plague small 
populations, collectively known as small population effects. These 
effects can include genetic drift (loss of recessive alleles), founder 
effects (over time, an increasing percentage of the population 
inheriting a narrow range of traits), and genetic bottlenecks leading 
to increasingly lower genetic diversity, with consequent negative 
effects on evolutionary potential.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Although the genetic diversity and 
population structure of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is unknown, 
a loss of genetic diversity may have occurred as a result of geographic 
isolation and fragmentation of habitat patches across the distribution 
of the existing populations. Dispersal of individuals directly affects 
the genetic composition of populations and possibly the abundance of 
individuals in a population (Hellmann et al. 2004, p. 59). For other 
subspecies of Edith's checkerspot and their closely related European 
relative Melitaea, small populations led to a high rate of inbreeding 
(Boggs and Nieminen 2004, p. 98). The Service is currently partnering 
with WDFW to explore questions of genetic relatedness in the 
subpopulations of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies. Due to its small 
population size and fragmented distribution, we conclude that these 
negative factors associated with small population size, as well as the 
potential historical loss of genetic diversity, may contribute to 
further population declines for the

[[Page 61489]]

Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Therefore, we consider small population 
size and the potential loss of genetic diversity to be a threat to the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Genetic analysis has shown that streaked 
horned larks have suffered a loss of genetic diversity due to a 
population bottleneck (Drovetski et al. 2005, p. 881), the effect of 
which may be exacerbated by continued small total population size. In 
general, decreased genetic diversity has been linked to increased 
chances of inbreeding depression, reduced disease resistance, and 
reduced adaptability to environmental change, leading to reduced 
reproductive success (Keller and Waller 2002, p. 235).
    Recent studies in Washington have found that streaked horned larks 
have lower fecundity and nest success than other northwestern horned 
lark subspecies (Camfield et al. 2010, p. 277). In a study on the south 
Puget Sound, all measures of reproductive success were lower for 
streaked horned larks than for other ground-nesting birds at the same 
prairie sites (Anderson 2010, p. 15). Streaked horned lark's egg 
hatching rate at these sites is extremely low (i.e., 44 percent at 13th 
Division Prairie) (Anderson 2010, p. 18). Comparisons with savannah 
sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis), a bird with similar habitat 
requirements that nests on the same prairies, found that streaked 
horned lark fecundity was 70 percent lower (Anderson 2010, p. 18). If 
streaked horned lark's very low reproductive success was caused by poor 
habitat quality, other ground-nesting birds at the study sites would be 
expected to show similarly low nest success rates; that other bird 
species have much higher nest success in the same habitat suggests that 
inbreeding depression may be playing a role in the decline of streaked 
horned larks in the south Puget Sound (Anderson 2010, p. 27). Other 
factors consistent with hypothesized inbreeding depression in the south 
Puget Sound population include two cases of observed mother-son 
pairings (Pearson and Stinson 2011, p. 1), and no observations of 
immigration from other sites into the Puget lowland breeding sites 
(Pearson et al. 2008, p. 15).
    Estimates of population growth rate ([lambda]) that include vital 
rates from all of the nesting areas in Washington (south Puget Sound, 
Washington Coast, and one lower Columbia River island) indicate that 
streaked horned larks in Washington are declining by 40 percent per 
year, apparently due to a combination of low survival and fecundity 
rates (Pearson et al. 2008, pp. 10, 13; Camfield et al. 2011, p. 7). 
Territory mapping at 4 sites on the south Puget Sound found that the 
total number of breeding streaked horned lark territories decreased 
from 77 territories in 2004 to 42 territories in 2007--a decline of 
over 45 percent in 3 years (Camfield et al. 2011, p. 8). The 
combination of low genetic variability, small and rapidly declining 
nesting populations, high breeding site fidelity, and no observed 
migration into the Puget lowlands populations suggests that the south 
Puget Sound population could become extirpated in the near future 
(Pearson et al. 2008, pp. 1, 14, 15).
    In 2011, a project was initiated to increase genetic diversity in 
the south Puget Sound streaked horned lark population. Twelve eggs 
(four three-egg clutches) were collected from streaked horned lark 
nests in the southern Willamette Valley and were placed in nests at the 
13th Division Prairie site at JBLM (Wolf 2011, p. 9). At least five 
young successfully fledged at the receiving site; if even one of these 
birds returns and successfully breeds in future years, it will likely 
increase genetic diversity in the receiving population, resulting in 
improved fitness and reduced extinction risk for the south Puget Sound 
larks (Wolf 2011, p. 9). In 2012, one fledgling that originated from an 
Oregon translocated clutch in 2011 survived its first winter, and 
returned to 13th Division Prairie; it did not breed successfully, but 
the return indicates that the project is likely to meet its objective 
to increase the genetic diversity of the streaked horned larks that 
breed in the south Puget Sound (Wolf 2012, p. 9). Based on our 
consideration of these factors, we conclude that the loss of genetic 
diversity, the current number of small and isolated populations 
(particularly in Washington State), and the subspecies' low 
reproductive success are likely to combine to result in continued 
population declines for the streaked horned lark, and thus pose a 
threat to the subspecies.
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). The term ``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 2007a, p. 78). The term ``climate 
change'' thus 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 
2007a, p. 78).
    Scientific measurements spanning several decades demonstrate that 
changes in climate are occurring, and that the rate of change has been 
faster since the 1950s. Examples include warming of the global climate 
system, and substantial increases in precipitation in some regions of 
the world and decreases in other regions. (For these and other 
examples, see IPCC 2007a, p. 30; and IPCC 2007d, pp. 35-54, 82-85). 
Results of scientific analyses presented by the IPCC show that most of 
the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid-20th 
century cannot be explained by natural variability in climate, and is 
``very likely'' (defined by the IPCC as 90 percent or higher 
probability) due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) 
concentrations in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, 
particularly carbon dioxide emissions from use of fossil fuels (IPCC 
2007a, pp. 5-6 and figures SPM.3 and SPM.4; IPCC 2007d, pp. 21-35). 
Further confirmation of the role of GHGs comes from analyses by Huber 
and Knutti (2011, p. 4), who concluded it is extremely likely that 
approximately 75 percent of global warming since 1950 has been caused 
by human activities.
    Scientists use a variety of climate models, which include 
consideration of natural processes and variability, as well as various 
scenarios of potential levels and timing of GHG emissions, to evaluate 
the causes of changes already observed and to project future changes in 
temperature and other climate conditions (e.g., IPCC 2007c, entire; 
Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 11555, 15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 
529). All combinations of models and emissions scenarios yield very 
similar projections of increases in the most common measure of climate 
change, average global surface temperature (commonly known as global 
warming), until about 2030. Although projections of the extent and rate 
of warming differ after about 2030, the overall trajectory of all the 
projections is one of increased global warming through the end of this 
century, even for the projections based on scenarios that assume that 
GHG emissions will stabilize or decline. Thus, there is strong 
scientific support for projections that warming will continue through 
the 21st century, and that the scope and rate of change will be 
influenced substantially by the extent of

[[Page 61490]]

GHG emissions (IPCC 2007a, pp. 44-45; IPCC 2007c, pp. 760-764 and 797-
811; Ganguly et al. 2009, pp. 15555-15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 
529). (See IPCC 2007b, p. 8, for a summary of other global projections 
of climate-related changes, such as frequency of heat waves and changes 
in precipitation. Also see IPCC 2011(entire) for a summary of 
observations and projections of extreme climate events.)
    Various changes in climate may 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 interactions of climate with other variables 
(e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007e, pp. 214-246). Identifying 
likely effects often involves aspects of climate change vulnerability 
analysis. Vulnerability refers to the degree to which a species (or 
system) is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of 
climate change, including climate variability and extremes. 
Vulnerability is a function of the type, scope, and rate of climate 
change and variation to which a species is exposed, its sensitivity, 
and its adaptive capacity (IPCC 2007a, p. 89; see also Glick et al. 
2011, pp. 19-22). There is no single method for conducting such 
analyses that applies to all situations (Glick et al. 2011, p. 3). We 
use our expert judgment and appropriate analytical approaches to weigh 
relevant information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of 
various aspects of climate change.
    As is the case with all stressors that we assess, even if we 
conclude that a species is currently affected or is likely to be 
affected in a negative way by one or more climate-related impacts, it 
does not necessarily follow that the species meets the definition of an 
``endangered species'' or a ``threatened species'' under the Act. If a 
species is listed as endangered or threatened, knowledge regarding the 
vulnerability of the species to, and known or anticipated impacts from, 
climate-associated changes in environmental conditions can be used to 
help devise appropriate strategies for its recovery.
    Global climate projections are informative, and, in some cases, the 
only or the best scientific information available for us to use. 
However, projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary 
substantially across and within different regions of the world (e.g., 
IPCC 2007a, pp. 8-12). Therefore, we use ``downscaled'' projections 
when they are available and have been developed through appropriate 
scientific procedures, because such projections provide higher 
resolution information that is more relevant to spatial scales used for 
analyses of a given species (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a 
discussion of downscaling). With regard to our analysis for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark, downscaled 
projections are available.
    The ranges of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked 
horned lark extend from the southern edge of the Georgia Basin, Canada, 
down through the Puget Sound trough in Washington State, and south to 
the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Downscaled climate change projections 
for this ecoregion predict consistently increasing annual mean 
temperatures from 2012 to 2095, using the IPCC's medium (A1B) emissions 
scenario (IPCC 2000, p. 245). Using the General Circulation Model (GCM) 
that most accurately predicts precipitation for the Pacific Northwest, 
the Third Generation Coupled Global Climate Model (CGCM3.1) under the 
medium emissions scenario (A1B), annual mean temperature is predicted 
to increase approximately 1.8 [deg]Fahrenheit (F) (1 [deg]Celsius (C)) 
by the year 2020, 3.6 [deg]F (2 [deg]C) by 2050, and 5.4 [deg]F (3 
[deg]C) by 2090 (Climatewizardcustom 2012). This analysis was 
restricted to the ecoregion encompassing the overlapping range of the 
species of interest and is well supported by analyses focused only on 
the Pacific Northwest by Mote and Salath[eacute] in their 2010 
publication, Future Climate in the Pacific Northwest (Mote and 
Salath[eacute] 2010, entire). Employing the same GCM and medium 
emissions scenario, downscaled model runs for precipitation in the 
ecoregion project a small (less than 5 percent) increase in mean annual 
precipitation over approximately the next 80 years. Most months are 
projected to show an increase in mean annual precipitation. May through 
August are projected to show a decrease in mean annual precipitation, 
which corresponds with the reproductive season for both species of 
interest in this final rule (Climatewizardcustom 2012).
    The potential impacts of a changing global climate to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark are presently unclear. 
Projections localized to the Georgia Basin--Puget Sound Trough--
Willamette Valley Ecoregion suggest that temperatures are likely to 
increase approximately 5 [deg]F (2.8 [deg]C) at the north end of the 
region by the year 2080, based on an average of greenhouse gas emission 
scenarios B1, A1B, and A2 and all Global Circulation Models employed by 
Climatewizard (range = 2.6 [deg]F to 7.6 [deg]F; 1.4 [deg]C to 4.2 
[deg]C). Similarly, the mid region projection predicts an increase an 
average of 4.5 [deg]F (range = 2.1 [deg]F to 7.1 [deg]F) (average of 
2.5 [deg]C with a range of 1.2 [deg]C to 3.9 [deg]C) and the southern 
end to increase by 4.5 [deg]F (range = 2.2 [deg]F to 7.1 [deg]F) 
(average of 2.5 [deg]C with a range of 1.2 [deg]C to 3.9 [deg]C). 
Worldwide, the IPCC states it is very likely that extreme high 
temperatures, heat waves, and heavy precipitation events will increase 
in frequency (IPCC 2007c, p. 783).
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Because the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly occupies a relatively small area of specialized habitat, it 
may be vulnerable to climatic changes that could decrease suitable 
habitat or alter food plant seasonal growth patterns (phenology). 
However, while it appears reasonable to assume that the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly may be affected, as detailed below, we lack 
sufficient certainty to know specifically how climate change will 
affect the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly.
    The relationship between climate change and survival for the 
Euphydryas editha complex is driven more by the indirect effects of the 
interaction between seasonal growth patterns of host plants and the 
life cycle of the checkerspot butterfly than by the direct effects of 
temperature and precipitation (Guppy and Fischer 2001, p. 11; Parmesan 
2007, p. 1868; Singer and Parmesan 2010, p. 3170).
    Predicting seasonal growth patterns of butterfly host plants is 
complicated, because these patterns are likely more sensitive to 
moisture than temperature (Cushman et al 1992, pp. 197-198; Bale et al. 
2002, p. 11), which is predicted to be highly variable and uncertain in 
the Pacific Northwest (Mote and Salath[eacute] 2010, p. 31). Climate 
models for the Georgia Basin--Puget Sound Trough--Willamette Valley 
Ecoregion consistently predict a deviation from the historical monthly 
average precipitation, with the months of January through April 
projected to show an increase in precipitation across the region, while 
June through September are predicted to be much drier than the 
historical average (Climatewizard 2012).
    During the active season of pre-diapause larvae (early spring), the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly feeds primarily on plants of the family 
Scrophulariaceae (snapdragon family, including species of Castilleja 
and Triphysaria) and Plantaginaceae (plantain family) (Stinson 2005, p. 
88). Available information suggests that if climate change disrupts 
seasonal growth patterns of food plants, it is conceivable that an 
adult Taylor's checkerspot butterfly may be able to use alternative 
food plants that occur within its range

[[Page 61491]]

(Singer and Wee 2005, pp. 353-355; Singer et al. 1992, pp. 17-18). The 
larval stage of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is more limited in 
terms of potential host plant species. Nevertheless, we have no 
information indicating that any of these changes (e.g., in availability 
of food plants) is likely to occur in the near future.
    It is likely that the overlap of seasonal growth patterns between 
these primary larval host plants and the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
will display some level of stochasticity due to climatic shifts in 
precipitation and increased frequency of extreme weather events. For 
the Edith's checkerspot (Euphydryas editha), Parmesan (2007, p. 1869) 
reported that a lifecycle mismatch can cause a shortening of the time 
window available for larval feeding, causing the death of those 
individuals unable to complete their larval development within the 
shortened period, citing a study by Singer (1972, p. 75). In that 
study, Singer documented routine mortality of greater than 98 percent 
in the field due to phenological mismatches between larval development 
and senescence of their annual host plant Plantago erecta (California 
plantain). When mismatches such as these form the `starting point,' 
insects may be highly vulnerable to small changes in synchrony with 
their hosts (Parmesan 2007, p. 1869).
    Predicting future population dynamics and distributions is complex 
for animals such as butterflies that have two very different 
physiological stages (larva and adult) (for example, see Bale et al. 
2002, p. 5). Moreover, forecasting the responses of butterflies and 
other insects to elevated temperatures or variable precipitation is 
largely based on field and laboratory studies (Hellmann 2002, pp. 927-
929). However, the relationship between these changing environmental 
conditions and the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly has not been 
explicitly studied, though the extirpation of populations in British 
Columbia is attributed to drought conditions and the encroachment of 
woody vegetation into formerly suitable habitat (Guppy 2012, in litt.). 
One of the two primary host plants for the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly is ubiquitous across the entire range of the subspecies and 
extends well beyond areas where Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
populations persist. This suggests that there is potential for range 
shifting, if the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly had the capacity to 
disperse across the landscape.
    Uncertainty about climate change impacts does not mean that impacts 
may or may not occur; it means that the risks of a given impact are 
difficult to quantify (Schneider and Kuntz-Duriseti 2002, p. 54; 
Congressional Budget Office 2005, entire; Halsnaes et al. 2007, p. 
129). The interplay between host plant distribution, larval and adult 
butterfly dispersal, and female choice of where to lay eggs will 
ultimately determine the population response to climate change (Singer 
and Parmesan 2010, p. 3164). However, determining the long-term 
responses to climate change from even well-studied butterflies in the 
genus Euphydryas is difficult, given their ability to switch to 
alternative larval food plants in some instances (Singer and Thomas 
1996, pp. S33-34; Hellmann 2002, p. 933; Singer et al. 1992, pp. 17-
18). Attempts to analyze the interplay between climate and host plant 
growth patterns using predictive models or general State-wide 
assessments and to relate these to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
are equally complicated (Murphy and Weiss 1992, p. 8). Despite the 
potential for future climate change in Western Washington, as discussed 
above, we have not identified, nor are we aware of any data on, an 
appropriate scale to evaluate habitat or population trends for the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly or to make predictions about future 
trends and whether the subspecies will be significantly impacted. Based 
on these considerations, at this time, we do not consider the effects 
of climate change to be a threat to the subspecies.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Sea level on the Pacific Coast of Washington 
and Oregon is predicted to rise according to expected values generated 
by an ensemble mean of models of relative sea-level rise (Tebaldi 2012, 
p. 4). At Toke Point, Willapa Bay, Washington, near occupied nesting 
habitat for streaked horned lark, sea level is predicted to rise 3.9 in 
(9.9 cm) by 2030, and 9.8 in (0.25 cm) by 2050 (Tebaldi 2012, p. 4). 
Streaked horned larks are attracted to breeding sites where there are 
long sight lines and sparse vegetation, making sandy islands and 
shorelines ideal habitats for nesting. Sea-level rise is not currently 
projected to reach the height of streaked horned lark nesting habitat 
on the beaches. If these projections underestimate sea-level rise and 
nesting habitat is infringed upon by rising waters, streaked horned 
larks will likely respond by moving to up shore or to other breeding 
habitats.
    The indirect effects of climate change are primarily associated 
with changes in habitat, such as succession from a sparsely vegetated 
condition to a shrubby or forested state, which would make habitat 
unsuitable for nesting. These negative impacts may be offset by other, 
potentially positive effects and continued management of occupied 
habitats. On the ocean beaches, an increase in the frequency of winter 
storm surges may improve upshore nesting habitat for larks by 
disturbing or killing encroaching vegetation. Many islands used for 
nesting in the Columbia River are likely to continue receiving dredge 
spoil deposits, perpetuating the conditions of early primary succession 
that streaked horned larks seek for nesting. Primary management on most 
of the currently occupied breeding sites on the mainland of Washington 
and Oregon is for agricultural, industrial, or military uses. Such 
management attracts streaked horned larks through the reduction of 
standing vegetation; thus conversion to unsuitable habitat due to 
shifts in climate is less likely in these areas. As a result, we have 
not identified nor are we aware of any data on an appropriate scale to 
evaluate habitat or populations trends for the streaked horned lark or 
to make predictions about future trends and whether the subspecies will 
be significantly impacted. Habitat changes to streaked horned lark 
habitat due to the effects of climate change may provide some benefit 
to the subspecies and as such is not currently considered a threat.
Stochastic Weather Events
    Stochasticity of extreme weather events may impact the ability of 
endangered and threatened species to survive. Vulnerability to weather 
events can be described as being composed of three elements: exposure, 
sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.
    The small, isolated nature of the remaining populations of the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark increases the 
subspecies' vulnerability to stochastic (random) natural events. When 
species are limited to small, isolated habitats, they are more likely 
to become extinct due to a local event that negatively affects the 
population. While a population's small, isolated nature does not 
represent an independent threat to the species, it does substantially 
increase the risk of extirpation from the effects of all other threats, 
including those addressed in this analysis, and those that could occur 
in the future from unknown sources.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Environmental threats exacerbated 
by small population size and weather can be a factor in the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly's breeding success. Poor weather conditions, such 
as cool temperatures and rainy weather, reduce the number of days in 
the flight period for several early spring flying butterflies,

[[Page 61492]]

including the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. A shorter flight season 
reduces the number of opportunities for oviposition (egg laying) for 
female butterflies, thus affecting the emergence of adult butterflies 
in the future. Peterson (2010, in litt) provided climate and butterfly 
abundance data that indicated cold winter temperature may affect the 
timing of butterfly emergence and the size of populations in years when 
winters are severe. Late emergence of adults may directly impact the 
mortality of larval stages if larvae are unable to complete their life 
cycle before their host plants senesce, or the larvae may return to 
diapause.
    Butterflies, including the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, may 
experience increased mortality or reduced fecundity if the timing of 
plant development does not match the timing of larval or adult 
butterfly development (Peterson 1997, p. 167), and large fluctuations 
in population sizes have been observed based on local weather patterns 
(Hellmann et al. 2004, p. 45). During 2010 and 2011, the emergence of 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly adults was approximately 3 weeks later 
than ``normal'' due to wet and cool spring weather. In addition, it has 
been reported that both drought and deluge may interrupt the insect-
plant interaction, resulting in decreased populations (Hellmann et al. 
2004, p. 45). The effects of drought have been shown to deleteriously 
affect populations of Edith checkerspot butterflies in California 
(Hellmann et al. 2004, p. 45). Based on our review, we conclude that 
stochastic weather events are a potential threat to the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly due to the vulnerability of isolated, small 
populations.
    Streaked Horned Lark--There are estimated to be fewer than 1,600 
streaked horned larks rangewide (Altman 2011, p. 213). During the 
breeding season, small populations of larks are distributed across the 
range; in the winter, however, streaked horned larks concentrate mainly 
on the lower Columbia River sites and in the Willamette Valley. Such 
concentration exposes the wintering populations to potentially 
disastrous stochastic events, such as ice storms or flooding, that 
could kill individuals or destroy limited habitat; a severe weather 
event could wipe out a substantial percentage of the entire subspecies 
(Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 13). It is also possible that, as extreme 
weather events become more frequent, streaked horned larks may be less 
able to adapt to loss of nests given the relatively long period between 
nesting attempts. We have not documented the occurrence of these 
threats to date, but the small and declining population of streaked 
horned larks is certainly at risk of random environmental events that 
could have catastrophic consequences. Based on our review, we conclude 
that the effects of stochastic weather events are a potential threat to 
the streaked horned lark.
Aircraft Strikes and Activities at Civilian Airports
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
is not known to be impacted by aircraft strikes and aircraft activities 
at airports. Habitat management activities at these sites are covered 
under Factor A.
    Streaked Horned Larks--Streaked horned larks are attracted to the 
flat, open habitats around airports throughout their range. Horned lark 
strikes are frequently reported at military and civilian airports 
throughout the country, but because of the bird's small size, few 
strikes result in significant damage to aircraft (Dolbeer et al. 2011, 
p. 48; Air Force Safety Center 2012, p. 2). A recent report, however, 
used mtDNA analysis to document that a streaked horned lark was struck 
by an F-15C military aircraft at Portland International Airport in 
October 2012, and caused damage to the aircraft's 1 engine 
(Dove et al. 2013, p. 2). Most of the specific information available 
for threats to streaked horned larks at airports comes from the 
monitoring program at the Department of Defense's JBLM on the south 
Puget Sound; similar threats to streaked horned larks may exist at 
other airports, but without focused monitoring, the threats to the 
birds have not been documented. Information provided from monitoring at 
McChord Field is used here as a surrogate for civilian airport 
information, where information on bird strikes may not have been fully 
reported. McChord Field has had seven confirmed streaked horned lark 
strikes from 2002 through 2010; the streaked horned larks were killed 
in the strikes, but the strikes resulted in only minimal cost or damage 
to the aircraft (Elliott 2011, pers. comm.). Aircraft strikes have been 
documented as a source of adult mortality for streaked horned larks at 
McChord Field. Surveys in 2010 at McChord Field detected up to 26 
individuals at the site (Linders 2011a, p. 3); loss of even 1 adult 
(and possibly more, since some strikes may not be noticeable given the 
small mass of a horned lark) per year could remove up to 4 percent of 
the population each year. Recent modeling has shown that adult survival 
has the greatest influence on population growth rates for streaked 
horned larks (Pearson et al. 2008, p. 13; Camfield et al. 2011, p. 10), 
so consistent loss of adult streaked horned larks to aircraft strikes 
could negatively impact this population.
    The annual Olympic Air Show takes place in June at the Olympia 
Regional Airport; the events at the air show include low-level 
aerobatic flying (Olympic Flight Museum 2012, p. 1). The events do not 
occur on lark habitat, but parking and staging for the event may occur 
on the streaked horned lark's breeding grounds (Tirhi 2012b, in litt.). 
As the air show occurs during the streaked horned lark's breeding 
season, the level of human activity at the site could cause nest 
abandonment, exposure of young to predators, or actual nest 
destruction.
    The Corvallis Municipal Airport is the site of the largest known 
streaked horned lark population. The airport hosts training exercises 
for police departments on the airport grounds (Moore and Kotaich 2010, 
p. 25); intensive training sessions have destroyed nests, and the 
disturbance may also cause streaked horned larks to delay breeding 
activity (Moore and Kotaich 2010, p. 25).
    Both military and civilian airports routinely implement a variety 
of approaches to minimize the presence of hazardous wildlife on or 
adjacent to airfields and to prevent wildlife strikes by aircraft. 
McChord Field uses falcons to scare geese and gulls off the airfield, 
and also uses two dogs for this purpose; the falcons and dogs are part 
of McChord Field's integrated bird/wildlife aircraft strike hazard 
program and are designed to minimize aircraft and crew exposure to 
potentially hazardous bird and wildlife strikes (Geil 2010, in litt.). 
The falcons and dogs cause streaked horned larks to become alert and 
fly (Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 12), which imposes an energetic cost 
to adults and could expose nests to predation. Portland International 
Airport uses a variety of hazing and habitat management tools to 
minimize wildlife hazards. Raptors and waterfowl pose the greatest 
danger to aircraft operations, but the airport's wildlife hazard 
management plan aims to reduce the potential for any bird strikes (Port 
of Portland 2009, pp. 5-6). Streaked horned larks are not known to nest 
near the runways at Portland International Airport, but foraging 
individuals from the nearby Southwest Quad could be harassed by the 
hazing program, which could impose resulting energetic costs.
    Given the small size of streaked horned lark populations, we 
conclude that disturbance associated with

[[Page 61493]]

training and other activities at airports are threats to the subspecies 
that may have significant population impacts. Although aircraft strikes 
can remove individual birds from streaked horned lark populations at 
airports, there is currently only limited information on one airport 
(McChord Field) to suggest aircraft strikes may be a potential 
population level threat at some sites. However, the overall impact of 
the loss of individual birds from aircraft strikes to the status of 
populations on other (non-military) airports is believed to be low, as 
indicated by the continued presence of populations under the current 
habitat conditions maintained at these airports.
Pesticides and Herbicides
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--In the south Puget Sound region, 
currently occupied Taylor's checkerspot butterfly sites are found in a 
matrix of rural agricultural lands and low-density development. In this 
context, herbicide and insecticide use may have direct effects on 
nontarget plants (butterfly larval and nectar hosts) and arthropods 
such as butterflies (Stark et al. 2012, p. 23).
    The application of the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis var. 
kurstaki (Btk) for control of the Asian gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) 
likely contributed to the extirpation of three historical locales for 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies in Pierce County, Washington, in 1992 
(Vaughan and Black 2002, p. 13). Spraying of Btk is known to have 
adverse effects to nontarget lepidopteran species (butterflies and 
moths) (Severns 2002, p. 169). Severns (2002) sampled butterfly 
diversity, richness, and abundance (density) for 2 years following a 
Btk application at Schwarz Park in Lane County, Oregon. Diversity, 
richness, and density were found to be significantly reduced for 2 
years following spraying of Btk (Severns 2002, p. 168). Species like 
Taylor's checkerspot butterflies, which have a single brood per year, 
are active in the spring and their larvae are active during the spray 
application period. Most lepidopterans are more susceptible to Btk than 
the target species (Asian gypsy moth) (Haas and Scriber 1998). For 
nontarget lepidoptera, the early instar stages of larvae are the most 
susceptible stage (Wagner and Miller 1995, p. 21).
    The application of pesticides is usually restricted to a short 
period of the year. However, if the target species is active at the 
same time as larvae and adult Taylor's checkerspot butterflies, the 
effect could be significant. Spraying of Btk still occurs in Pierce 
County for gypsy moths during the time of year when Taylor's 
checkerspot larvae are active, and the threat of pesticide drift onto 
the prairies of Pierce County cannot be discounted. At this time, 
however, we have no evidence that Btk has been sprayed in any locations 
where Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are known to occur.
    Organophosphate-based insecticides are used in a number of 
agricultural applications including black fly and mosquito control; 
spraying of vegetable, nut, and fruit crops; and treatment of seed, 
although they are now banned from residential use. One of these 
insecticides, Naled (Dibrom), has been determined to have broad impacts 
on a wide array of butterfly families (Bargar 2011, p. 888) and direct 
effects to the larvae and adults of a closely related species of a 
federally listed threatened butterfly, the Bay checkerspot (Euphydryas 
editha bayensis) (EPA 2010, p. 23), if exposed. The extent to which 
these insecticides are used in the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly's 
range is currently unknown, and current data were not available from 
the USDA.
    In conclusion, we recognize that the use of pesticides would kill 
all life stages of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly if pesticides 
were sprayed such that habitat occupied by the subspecies was impacted 
(for example, if pesticide were to drift from application in adjacent 
forested areas). As noted earlier, the application of pesticide was 
implicated in the extirpation of three historical locales for Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies in Pierce County, Washington, in 1992 (Vaughan 
and Black 2002, p. 13). Although we are not aware of any present 
overlap of exposure to pesticide use and the distribution of the 
butterfly, based on the high degree of mortality that would result as a 
consequence of pesticide exposure and past suspected extirpations of 
entire populations of the subspecies as a likely result of pesticide 
use, we conclude that pesticide use is a potential threat to the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly.
    Streaked Horned Lark--The streaked horned lark is not known to be 
impacted by pesticides or herbicides directly, but may be impacted by 
the equipment used to dispense them. These impacts are covered under 
Factor A.
Recreation
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--Recreational foot traffic may be a 
threat to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, as trampling will crush 
larvae if they are present underfoot. The incidence of trampling is 
limited to the few locations where Taylor's checkerspot butterflies and 
recreation overlap. For example, foot traffic is relatively common at 
Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Washington, where plants and butterfly 
habitat have been trampled by horses during specialized dog 
competitions in which dogs are followed by observers on horseback 
(Stinson 2005, p. 6), and by foot traffic using the trail system to 
access the meadows of Beazell Memorial Forest (Park) in Oregon. 
Recreation by JBLM personnel and local individuals occurs on and near 
the 13th Division Prairie. Trampling by humans and horses, as well as 
people walking dogs on the 13th Division Prairie, is likely to crush 
some larvae, as well as the larval and nectar prairie plant communities 
that are restored and managed for in this area.
    Larvae have been crushed on Dan Kelly Ridge, on the north Olympic 
Peninsula by vehicles that access the site to maintain a cell tower on 
the ridge. Also, recreational off-road vehicle (ORV) traffic on Dan 
Kelly Ridge, and on Eden Valley, has damaged larval host plants. The 
ORV damage on Dan Kelly Ridge occurs despite efforts by WDNR to block 
access into the upper portions of the road system through gating of the 
main road. Based on our review, we conclude that ground-disturbing 
recreational activities are a threat to the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly and where the population is depressed may constitute a 
serious threat to the long-term conservation of the subspecies.
    Streaked Horned Lark--There are documented occurrences of adverse 
effects to larks from recreation. Recreation at coastal sites is a 
common threat to rare species; activities such as dog walking, 
beachcombing, ORV use, and horseback riding in coastal habitats may 
indirectly increase predation, nest abandonment, and nest failure for 
streaked horned larks (Pearson and Hopey 2005, pp. 19, 26, 29). One 
nest (of 16 monitored) at Midway Beach on the Washington coast was 
crushed by a horse in 2004 (Pearson and Hopey 2005, pp. 18-19). Open 
sandy beaches (e.g., dredge spoil sites on the lower Columbia islands) 
make good camping areas for kayakers and boaters, and nests could be 
lost due to accidental crushing. During western snowy plover surveys 
conducted between 2006 and 2010 at coastal sites in Washington, human-
caused nest failures were reported in 4 of the 5 years (Pearson et al. 
annual reports, 2007, p. 16; 2008, p. 17; 2009, p. 18; 2010, p. 16). 
Because streaked horned larks nest in the same areas as snowy plovers 
along the Washington Coast, it is highly likely that human-caused nest 
failures also occur due to recreational activities at these sites. Good 
communication between

[[Page 61494]]

researchers and landowners has resulted in some positive actions to 
reduce the adverse effects of recreation. In 2002, JBLM restricted 
recreational activity at the 13th Division Prairie to protect lark 
nesting; JBLM prohibited model airplane flying, dog walking, and 
vehicle traffic in the area used by streaked horned larks (Pearson and 
Hopey 2005, p. 29).
    Although restrictions to recreational use were placed on the 13th 
Division Prairie by JBLM, it is a difficult area to patrol and enforce 
restrictions of this type. This area, adjacent to where streaked horned 
larks nest, is scheduled for a release of captive-bred and translocated 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly larvae during March 2012. Based on our 
review, we conclude that activities associated with recreation are 
threats to the streaked horned lark.
Nest Parasitism
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--The Taylor's checkerspot butterfly 
is not known to be impacted by nest parasitism.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds 
(Molothrus ater) is a potential, though little documented, threat to 
streaked horned larks. Cowbirds are common in grasslands and urban 
areas throughout North America; female cowbirds lay their eggs in the 
nests of other songbirds (Lowther 1993, p. 1). Upon hatching, young 
cowbirds compete for food with the young of the host species, and may 
result in lower reproductive success for the host pair (Lowther 1993, 
p. 11). In a study in Kansas, brown-headed cowbird parasitism of horned 
lark nests reduced the larks' nest success by half in those nests that 
were parasitized (from 1.4 young larks fledged per nest in non-
parasitized nests to 0.7 young larks produced per nest with cowbird 
parasitism (Hill 1976, pp. 560-561)). Cowbirds are native to the open 
grasslands of central North America, but apparently only expanded into 
Oregon and Washington in the 1950s, as a result of human clearing of 
forested habitats (Lowther 1993, p. 2). Brown-headed cowbirds have been 
noted at all streaked horned lark study areas, and fledgling cowbirds 
have been observed begging for food from adult streaked horned larks on 
the Columbia River island sites (Pearson and Hopey 2005, p. 17). 
Extensive nest monitoring of streaked horned lark nests in the 
Willamette Valley has not identified cowbird brood parasitism as a 
threat in this area (Moore 2009, entire; Moore and Kotaich 2010, 
entire). Streaked horned larks have had just 50 years of exposure to 
brown-headed cowbirds, and as such, have not coevolved with this nest 
parasite. We, therefore, conclude that the effect of cowbird brood 
parasitism is not currently a threat; however, it may become a threat 
in the future if it further depresses nest success of the declining 
streaked horned lark population on the south Puget Sound.
Vehicle Mortality
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--See discussion under Factor A, 
Development.
    Streaked Horned Lark--There is some evidence that streaked horned 
larks are killed by cars on rural roads (Moore 2010b, p. 6). In the 
Willamette Valley, larks often breed on the margins of gravel roads, 
and, as they flush in response to passing cars, they may be killed. The 
magnitude of this threat is unknown, but we have no data to suggest 
that mortality from vehicle strikes is resulting in population-level 
impacts to the subspecies. We do not consider vehicle mortality to 
currently be a threat to the streaked horned lark.
Summary of Factor E
    Based upon our review of the best commercial and scientific data 
available, the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of prairies has 
resulted in smaller population sizes, loss of genetic diversity, 
reduced gene flow among populations, destruction of population 
structure, and increased susceptibility to local population extirpation 
for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the streaked horned lark 
from a series of threats including pesticide use, crushing and 
trampling from recreational activities, and aircraft strikes and 
collisions, as summarized for each subspecies below.
    Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly--The degradation of habitat from 
recreational trampling and crushing produced by humans, dogs, and 
horses has killed larvae at several sites occupied by Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies. In addition, the use of the insecticide BtK is 
suspected to be responsible for the extirpation of three historical 
populations in Pierce County, Washington, in 1992 (Stinson 2005). We 
have also determined that the loss of genetic diversity through 
inbreeding depression due to habitat fragmentation and the isolation of 
the subspecies is likely an ongoing active threat. We consider the 
negative impacts from recreation and pesticide use to pose potential 
threat to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, particularly given its 
inherent vulnerability due to small population sizes and isolation of 
small populations.
    Streaked Horned Lark--Genetic analysis has shown that streaked 
horned larks have suffered a loss of genetic diversity due to a 
bottleneck in population size (Drovetski et al. 2005, p. 881), the 
effect of which may be exacerbated by continued small total population 
size. The loss of genetic diversity in small populations has been 
linked to increased chances of inbreeding depression, reduced disease 
resistance, and reduced adaptability to environmental change, leading 
to reduced reproductive success. These effects may be apparent in the 
small breeding population in the south Puget Sound, which exhibits low 
reproductive success.
    Habitat changes to streaked horned lark habitat from climate change 
may provide some benefit to the subspecies, and as such climate change 
is not currently considered a threat; however, stochastic weather 
events may pose a threat to wintering flocks in the Willamette Valley. 
Death of individual larks caused by aircraft strikes is a threat to the 
small populations at airports, as the loss of even a single breeding 
individual can have an adverse effect on the population. Recreation 
activities can cause the degradation of streaked horned lark habitat 
and direct mortality to nests and young.
    We consider the impacts from the loss of genetic diversity, low 
reproductive success, stochastic weather events, aircraft strikes, and 
recreation to pose a threat to the streaked horned lark in combination 
with the other threat factors identified here, particularly given the 
inherent vulnerability of streaked horned lark due to small population 
sizes and isolation of small populations.

Determination

    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: (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. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of 
the above threat factors, singly or in combination.

[[Page 61495]]

Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. The Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly has been lost from most locations in the Canadian portion of 
its range with just one known population remaining. In Washington, the 
subspecies was once known from seven Puget Sound counties, and is now 
known to occur naturally in just two counties, Clallam and Pierce. In 
Oregon, the range of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly has been 
reduced to two small relict grasslands in the foothills of the coast 
range near Corvallis, in Benton County, Oregon. The distribution of the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly has been reduced from more than 80 
populations to the 14 occupied locations with small populations that 
are known rangewide today. Some of the populations that have been 
extirpated have disappeared in the past decade, and many declined from 
robust population sizes of more than 5,000 individual butterflies to 
zero within a 3-year interval and have not returned. Most remaining 
populations of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies are very small; 5 of 
the 14 known populations are estimated to have fewer than 100 
individuals. Only 1 population consistently has been estimated to have 
more than 1,000 individual butterflies, and this population has been 
severely impacted due to habitat degradation associated with military 
training.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial data 
available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the 
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. We find that the threat of development 
and adverse impacts to habitat from conversion to other uses 
(agriculture); the loss of historically occupied locations resulting in 
the present isolation and limited distribution of the subspecies; the 
impacts of military training and recreation; existing and likely future 
habitat fragmentation, habitat disturbance, and land use changes 
associated with agriculture; long-term fire suppression; and the 
threats associated with the present and threatened destruction, 
modification, and curtailment of Taylor's checkerspot butterfly habitat 
are significant. These threats are currently ongoing and will continue 
into the foreseeable future for Taylor's checkerspot butterflies.
    We find that disease may be a threat, but is not currently at a 
significant level to affect the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. The 
threat of disease to the larval host plant of the subspecies may become 
substantial in the foreseeable future due to the prevalence of small 
population sizes for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Predation is 
not a threat to Taylor's checkerspot butterflies at this time. We 
conclude that existing regulatory mechanisms do not address and reduce 
the threats to the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. In contrast, the 
voluntary protections that have been exercised for private landowners 
in lieu of rulemaking under Washington State's forest practices 
regulations have provided protection to the subspecies on private lands 
adjacent to DNR lands on the north Olympic Peninsula, although this is 
a small proportion of existing occupied habitat for the subspecies.
    The observed habitat fragmentation and the isolation of small 
populations of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly suggest that the loss 
of genetic diversity through inbreeding depression may be a threat. All 
known locations where the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is found in 
Oregon and Washington are sufficiently distant from each other such 
that exchange of genetic material from a dispersing individual moving 
from population to population would be unlikely. The threat of extreme 
weather events (drought and deluge, and overcast, cold springs) affect 
host plant phenology and adult butterfly emergence, which influences 
whether the larvae complete their annual life cycle, thus affecting the 
size of annual populations. The effects of weather events are 
particularly a threat when they affect one of the few small populations 
that remain. There is a potential threat of continuing pesticide 
application, which is suspected to be responsible for the extirpation 
of some populations of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly in Pierce 
County. Recreational activities (off-road vehicles, trampling and 
crushing from hikers and horses) have been shown to be a threat at 
several of the sites occupied by Taylor's checkerspot butterflies.
    In summary, the combination of several threats that have 
significant impacts on populations and the ongoing nature of these 
threats to the few remaining small populations of the Taylor's 
checkerspot butterfly leads us to conclude that the subspecies is 
currently in danger of extinction throughout its range. The threats to 
the survival of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly occur throughout the 
subspecies' range and are not restricted to any particular significant 
portion of that range. Accordingly, our assessment and determination 
will apply to the subspecies throughout its entire range. 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.'' Because we find that the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire 
range, based on the immediacy, severity, and scope of the threats 
described above, and the fact that the range and population size of the 
species has already been drastically reduced, a determination of 
threatened species status for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly is not 
appropriate. Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific 
and commercial information, we determine that the Taylor's checkerspot 
butterfly meets the definition of an endangered species in accordance 
with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

Significant Portion of the Range

    Having determined that the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly meets the 
definition of an endangered species throughout its entire range, we 
need not further evaluate any significant portion of the range for this 
subspecies.

Streaked Horned Lark

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the streaked horned lark. The subspecies has disappeared from all 
formerly documented locations in the northern portions of its range 
(British Columbia, the San Juan Islands, and the northern Puget 
trough), the Oregon coast, and the southern edge of its range (Rogue 
and Umpqua Valleys). The streaked horned lark's range may be continuing 
to contract, and the number of streaked horned larks in Washington and 
on the Columbia River islands is declining. This decline taken together 
with evidence of inbreeding depression on the south Puget Sound 
indicates that the streaked horned lark's range may contract further in 
the future.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial data 
available regarding the past, present, and future threats to streaked 
horned lark. We find that the threat of development and adverse impacts 
to habitat from conversion to other uses (residential or commercial 
development, agriculture), loss and degradation of habitat due to fire 
suppression and subsequent invasion of habitat by undesirable native 
and nonnative plants, dredge spoil deposition timing and placement on 
Columbia River islands, improperly

[[Page 61496]]

timed burning and mowing regimes, military training (use of explosive 
ordnance, aircraft downdraft, accidental fires, vehicle travel, 
dismounted training, bivouac activities, digging, Air Mobility Rodeo, 
Air Expo), and conversion of large grass seed production fields to 
incompatible agricultural commodities are significant and are expected 
to continue into the foreseeable future. Many military training impacts 
are expected to increase under the DOD's Grow the Army initiative, 
although we expect that JBLM's final ESMPs will provide an overall 
conservation benefit to the subspecies.
    We find that there are likely to be significant, ongoing threats to 
the subspecies due to predation, which is the most frequently 
documented source of mortality for eggs and young, and the primary 
source of nest failure. This is especially a concern in the south Puget 
Sound area, although streaked horned larks in other areas are also 
susceptible. In addition, we conclude that significant, ongoing threats 
to the streaked horned lark may occur due to small population effects 
(for this subspecies, this includes loss of genetic diversity, low 
survival, and reduced fecundity and nest success). This is of 
particular concern in the south Puget Sound area, where such threats in 
combination with a lack of immigration into that area and high breeding 
site fidelity could lead to local population extirpations. Other 
significant, ongoing threats to the streaked horned lark include 
existing regulatory mechanisms, which are not adequate to address or 
reduce threats to streaked horned lark; other activities associated 
with airports (development and aircraft strikes); and recreation 
(including but not limited to pedestrians, model airplane flying, dog 
walking, beachcombing, vehicle or ORV use, camping, and horseback 
riding in areas occupied by streaked horned lark). These threats are 
expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Potential threats 
include stochastic weather events, nest parasitism by brown-headed 
cowbirds, and vehicle mortality, but magnitude and severity of these 
threats are unknown at this time.
    Streaked horned larks face a combination of several high-magnitude 
threats; the threats are immediate, occur throughout the subspecies' 
range, and are not restricted to any particular significant portion of 
the range. Therefore, we assessed the status of streaked horned lark 
throughout its entire range, and our assessment and determination apply 
to the subspecies throughout its entire range. For the reasons provided 
in this rule, we are listing streaked horned lark as threatened 
throughout its range. 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 streaked horned lark is likely to become an endangered 
species throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the 
foreseeable future, based on the immediacy, severity, and scope of the 
threats described above. We do not have information to suggest that the 
present threats are of such great magnitude that streaked horned lark 
is in immediate danger of extinction, but we conclude that it is likely 
to become so in the foreseeable future. Therefore, on the basis of the 
best available scientific and commercial information, we determine that 
streaked horned lark meets the definition of threatened species in 
accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment

    After finding that streaked horned lark is a threatened species 
throughout its range, we next consider whether there may be a distinct 
vertebrate population segment (DPS) that meets the definition of 
endangered, in accordance with the Service's Policy Regarding the 
Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments under the 
Endangered Species Act (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). The policy 
identifies three elements that are to be considered regarding the 
status of a possible DPS. These elements include:
    (1) The discreteness of the population segment in relation to the 
remainder of the species to which it belongs;
    (2) The significance of the population segment to the species to 
which it belongs; and
    (3) The population segment's conservation status in relation to the 
Act's standards for listing (i.e., does the population segment, when 
treated as if it were a species, meet the Act's definition of 
endangered or threatened?) (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996).
    The first two elements are used to determine if a population 
segment constitutes a valid DPS. If it does, then the third element is 
used to consider whether such DPS warrants listing. In this section, we 
will consider the first two criteria (discreteness and significance) to 
determine if any unit of the streaked horned lark's overall population 
is a valid DPS (i.e., a valid listable entity). Our policy further 
recognizes that it may be appropriate to assign different 
classifications (i.e., endangered or threatened) to different DPSs of 
the same vertebrate taxon (61FR 4722; February 7, 1996).
Discreteness
    Under the DPS policy, a population segment of a vertebrate species 
may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following 
two conditions:
    (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the same 
taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or 
behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological 
discontinuity (separation based on genetic or morphological characters) 
may provide evidence of this separation;
    (2) It is delimited by international governmental boundaries within 
which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act.
    In our evaluation of discreteness under the DPS policy, we 
primarily considered the information indicating the separation of 
streaked horned larks during the breeding season into three regions 
(the south Puget Sound, Washington Coast and Columbia River, and the 
Willamette Valley). Observation of banded streaked horned larks has 
shown that the birds show strong site philopatry in the breeding season 
(i.e., individuals tend to return to the same location to breed each 
year) (Pearson et al. 2008, p. 12), but birds from all regions mix in 
the winter (Pearson et al. 2005, pp. 2-6). In the winter most of 
streaked horned larks that breed in the south Puget Sound migrate south 
to the Willamette Valley or west to the Washington coast; streaked 
horned larks that breed on the Washington coast either remain on the 
coast or migrate south to the Willamette Valley; birds that breed on 
the lower Columbia River islands remain on the islands or migrate to 
the Washington coast; and birds that breed in the Willamette Valley 
remain there over the winter (Pearson et al. 2005b; pp. 5-6). Streaked 
horned larks spend the winter in large mixed subspecies flocks of 
horned larks in the Willamette Valley, and in smaller flocks along the 
lower Columbia River and Washington Coast (Pearson et al. 2005b, p. 7; 
Pearson and Altman 2005, p. 7).
    Possible evidence of inbreeding depression (Anderson 2010, p. 27; 
Pearson and Stinson 2011, p. 1) may suggest that there is a discrete 
population of streaked horned larks that breed in Washington. Estimates 
of population growth rate with data from nesting areas in Washington 
(south

[[Page 61497]]

Puget Sound, Washington Coast, and one lower Columbia River island) 
indicate that the number of streaked horned larks in Washington is 
declining each year, apparently due to a combination of low survival 
and fecundity rates (Pearson et al. 2008, pp. 10, 13; Camfield et al. 
2011, p. 7); this trend is not apparent in Oregon (Myers and Kreager 
2010, p. 11). The combination of low genetic variability, small and 
rapidly declining nesting populations, high breeding site fidelity, and 
no observed migration into the south Puget Sound suggests that streaked 
horned lark in the south Puget Sound could become extirpated in the 
near future (Pearson et al. 2008, pp. 1, 14, 15). Efforts to reduce 
this apparent isolation and concomitant genetic consequences have been 
implemented within the last year.
    A project was initiated in 2011 to counteract the apparent decline 
in the south Puget Sound breeding birds. This genetic rescue effort is 
aimed at increasing genetic diversity in streaked horned larks breeding 
in Washington, which could result in increased nest success and an 
increase in the population. Twelve eggs (four three-egg clutches) were 
collected from streaked horned lark nests in the southern Willamette 
Valley and were placed in nests at the 13th Division Prairie site at 
Joint Base Lewis-McChord (Wolf 2011, p. 9). At least five young 
successfully fledged at the receiving site; if even one of these birds 
returns to breed in future years, it will likely increase genetic 
diversity in the receiving population, resulting in improved fitness 
and reduced extinction risk for the south Puget Sound streaked horned 
larks (Wolf 2011, p. 9). This genetic rescue project will likely be 
continued for the next several years.
    With the evidence of extensive mixing that occurs in the winter, 
and the genetic rescue project to bolster genetic diversity in 
Washington, which has resulted in genetic mixing between Oregon and 
Washington populations, there does not appear to be marked separation 
among streaked horned larks from the three regions. In addition, the 
evidence of deleterious genetic consequences to the birds breeding in 
Washington suggests that any possible isolation of this population is 
not the result of adaptation or natural differentiation of this 
population, but rather is symptomatic of drastic population declines 
and loss of connectivity between potentially interbreeding 
subpopulations. Because we find the potential ``regional populations'' 
are not markedly separate, we do not consider them to be discrete under 
the DPS policy.
Evaluation of Discreteness
    Our analysis of the apparent level of isolation and evidence of 
inbreeding depression does not lead to a finding that any subunit of 
streaked horned larks that nest in Washington, in the south Puget 
Sound, on the Washington coast, or on the Columbia River islands are 
discrete; therefore these populations cannot be considered to be a 
potential DPS. This does not mean that the three breeding regions of 
streaked horned lark are unimportant and do not have significant 
conservation value. It simply means that, per our policy, the best 
available data at this time do not support a marked separation between 
the breeding streaked horned larks in the three regions, based on 
information available to us, such that this population would meet the 
discreteness criterion of our DPS policy.
Significance
    Under our DPS Policy, a population must be discrete and significant 
to qualify as a DPS. Since we have determined that no populations of 
streaked horned larks are discrete, we will not consider whether that 
population segment is significant.

Conclusion of DPS Analysis for Streaked Horned Lark

    On the basis of the best available information, we have determined 
that there are no discrete populations of the streaked horned lark. As 
no population segments met the discreteness element, and, therefore, no 
populations qualify as a DPS under the Service's DPS policy, we will 
not proceed with an evaluation of the status of the population segment 
under the Act.

Significant Portion of the Range

    In determining whether a species is endangered or threatened in a 
significant portion of its range, we first identify any portions of the 
range of the species that warrant further consideration. The range of a 
species can theoretically be divided into portions an infinite number 
of ways. However, there is no purpose to analyzing portions of the 
range that are not reasonably likely to be both (1) significant and (2) 
endangered or threatened. To identify only those portions that warrant 
further consideration, we determine whether there is substantial 
information indicating that: (1) The portions may be significant, and 
(2) the species may be in danger of extinction there or likely to 
become so within the foreseeable future. In practice, a key part of 
this analysis is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in 
some way. If the threats to the species are essentially uniform 
throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further 
consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats applies only 
to portions of the species' range that are not significant, such 
portions will not warrant further consideration.
    If we identify portions that warrant further consideration, we then 
determine whether the species is endangered or threatened in these 
portions of its range. Depending on the biology of the species, its 
range, and the threats it faces, the Service may address either the 
significance question or the status question first. Thus, if the 
Service considers significance first and determines that a portion of 
the range is not significant, the Service need not determine whether 
the species is endangered or threatened there. Likewise, if the Service 
considers status first and determines that the species is not 
endangered or threatened in a portion of its range, the Service need 
not determine if that portion is significant. However, if the Service 
determines that both a portion of the range of a species is significant 
and the species is endangered or threatened there, the Service will 
specify that portion of the range as endangered or threatened under 
section 4(c)(1) of the Act.
    As described above, we have determined that streaked horned lark is 
likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout 
all of its range; therefore the subspecies meets the definition of a 
threatened species under the Act. In the course of this rangewide 
determination, we considered whether some portion of the full range of 
the subspecies may face threats or potential threats acting 
individually or collectively on streaked horned lark to such degree 
that the subspecies as a whole should be considered endangered. We 
detail our consideration of that question here.
    Although the threats to streaked horned larks in Washington and 
Oregon are apparently similar in nature (including loss of habitat to 
development, poor habitat quality due to lack of adequate management to 
maintain low-stature vegetation, predation, and human disturbance 
during the breeding season), for reasons unknown, the population trend 
for streaked horned larks in Washington appears to be markedly 
different than the trend for the subspecies in Oregon.
    Streaked horned larks in Washington occur on the south Puget Sound, 
on the Washington coast, and on islands and

[[Page 61498]]

dredge disposal sites in the lower Columbia River (including two sites 
in Portland, Oregon). The total estimated population of streaked horned 
larks in these areas is 270-310 birds (Altman 2011, p. 213). 
Demographic modeling using data from these sites uniformly shows 
precipitous population declines. Pearson et al. (2008, pp. 3, 12) 
examined population vital rates (reproductive rates, juvenile survival, 
and adult survival) at seven sites (four in the south Puget Sound, two 
on the Washington Coast, and one Columbia River island) over 4 years 
(2002-2005) and concluded that the Washington population is declining 
by 40 percent per year. Schapaugh (2009, pp. 9, 15, 18) used both 
deterministic and stochastic models to analyze the data collected by 
Pearson et al. (2008, p. 3), and projected that, in all cases, streaked 
horned larks in Washington would likely become extirpated within 25 
years.
    Camfield et al. (2011, p. 4) analyzed the data from the same three 
local populations considered by Pearson et al. (2008) and Schapaugh 
(2009), described above (the data were collected from about 137 nests 
over 4 years (2002-2005)). Camfield et al. (2011, p. 8) concluded that 
these populations have reached a point where they are declining towards 
extinction, and are not sustainable without immigration. The declining 
trend is probably most pronounced in the south Puget Sound population, 
where studies have identified apparent inbreeding depression, which is 
likely a result of the small population size, high site fidelity, and 
complete absence of breeding season immigration (i.e., no observed 
immigration of breeding birds from any other sites) (Pearson et al. 
2008, pp. 14-15).
    The population of streaked horned larks in the Willamette Valley of 
Oregon appears to be more stable. The population in the Willamette 
Valley is estimated at 900-1,300 birds (Altman 2011, p. 213); no 
population modeling has been done using data from Oregon, but the 
apparent trend of the subspecies in the Willamette Valley is stable, 
based on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's 1996 and 2008 
surveys for streaked horned larks at sites throughout the Willamette 
Valley (Myers and Kreager 2010, p. 11). Population monitoring at 
various sites in the Willamette Valley show that several large 
populations are fairly stable or increasing. Surveys conducted at 
Baskett Slough NWR from 2006 to 2009 showed a population increase from 
18 pairs in 2006, to 35 pairs in 2009 (Moore 2008, p. 8; Moore 2012, in 
litt.). Surveys at William L. Finley NWR found the population 
increasing from 15 pairs in 2006, to 40 pairs in 2010 (Moore 2008, p. 
9; Moore 2012, in litt.). Streaked horned lark population at Corvallis 
Municipal Airport, the site of the largest known population of the 
subspecies, measured 75 pairs in 2006, 102 pairs in 2007, 80 pairs in 
2008, and 85 pairs in 2011 (Moore 2008, p. 16; Moore 2012, in litt.).
    Although streaked horned larks in the Willamette Valley face many 
of the same threats as populations in Washington, the data suggest that 
streaked horned larks in the Willamette Valley are declining at a 
slower place and have abundant potential habitat on the agricultural 
lands in the valley. The best available information does not suggest 
that they are likely to experience significant declines in the 
foreseeable future, to the degree that this population would be 
considered in danger of extinction at the present time. The threats in 
the Willamette Valley are relatively small population size, and likely 
loss of habitat to future development and incompatible management 
practices, which leads us to conclude that the subspecies is threatened 
in the Willamette Valley.
    The best available data therefore suggest that, under current 
conditions, streaked horned larks in Washington (south Puget Sound, 
Washington coast, Columbia River islands) will likely continue to 
decline towards extinction within this century. Having already 
determined that streaked horned lark is threatened throughout its 
range, we considered whether threats may be so concentrated in some 
portion of its range that, if that portion were lost, the entire 
subspecies would be in danger of extinction. In applying this test, we 
determined that even with the potential loss of the Washington 
populations, the relatively larger, population in the Willamette Valley 
of Oregon would likely persist; therefore the subspecies as a whole is 
not presently in danger of extinction, and therefore does not meet the 
definition of an endangered species under the Act.
    Continued decline of the Washington populations considered in 
conjunction with the larger populations in the Willamette Valley leads 
us to the conclusion that, on balance, the subspecies is appropriately 
defined as a threatened species throughout its range under the Act.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened species 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 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 and preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to 
develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address 
continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive 
information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five 
factors that control whether a species remains endangered or 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 Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a

[[Page 61499]]

broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, 
Tribal, 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.
    Upon listing, 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, pursuant to section 6 of 
the Act, the States of Washington and Oregon will be eligible for 
Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the 
protection or recovery of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and 
streaked horned lark. Information on our grant programs that are 
available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    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 the species' habitat that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include actions to manage or restore critical habitat, 
actions that require collecting or handling the species for the purpose 
of captive propagation and translocation to new habitat, actions that 
may negatively affect the species through removal and conversion or 
degradation of habitat. Examples of activities authorized, funded, or 
carried out by Federal agencies that may affect listed species or their 
habitat include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Military training activities and air operations conducted in or 
adjacent to occupied or suitable habitat on DOD lands;
    (2) Activities with a Federal nexus that include vegetation 
management such as burning, mechanical treatment, and/or application of 
herbicides/pesticides on Federal, State, private, or Tribal lands;
    (3) Ground-disturbing activities regulated, funded, or conducted by 
Federal agencies in or adjacent to occupied and/or suitable habitat; 
and
    (4) Import, export, or trade of the species.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, codified at 
50 CFR 17.21 for endangered wildlife, in part, make it illegal for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take 
(includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these), import, export, ship 
in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or 
offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. 
Under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42-43; 16 U.S.C. 3371-3378), it is also 
illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such 
wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to 
agents of the Service and State conservation agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered and threatened wildlife species under certain 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 
17.22 for endangered wildlife, and at 17.32 for threatened wildlife. 
With regard to endangered wildlife, a permit must be issued for the 
following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation 
or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with 
otherwise lawful activities.
    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 is listed, those activities that will or will 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 listing on 
proposed and ongoing activities within the range of the listed species. 
The following activities could potentially result in a violation of 
section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:
    (1) Unauthorized collecting; sale or offer for sale in interstate 
or foreign commerce; and delivery, receipt, or transport in interstate 
or foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity of the 
species.
    (2) Introduction of nonnative species that compete with or prey 
upon the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly or the streaked horned lark, 
such as the introduction of competing, nonnative plants or animals to 
the States of Washington and Oregon;
    (3) The unauthorized release of biological control agents that 
attack any life stage of these subspecies, for example, Btk release in 
the range of Taylor's checkerspot butterflies;
    (4) Unauthorized modification of the soil profiles or the 
vegetation components on sites known to be occupied by Taylor's 
checkerspot butterflies and streaked horned larks; and
    (5) Deposition of dredge materials on occupied streaked horned lark 
breeding habitats, intentional harassment of the subspecies at airports 
as part of a wildlife hazard reduction program, and mowing or burning 
of the subspecies' occupied habitats during the breeding season.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Washington 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 
Requests for copies of the regulations concerning listed animals and 
general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits may be addressed 
to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Eastside 
Federal Complex, 911 NE. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181 
(telephone 503-231-6158; facsimile 503-231-6243).
    Listing the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly as endangered and the 
streaked horned lark as threatened under the Act does not automatically 
invoke the endangered species acts of the State of Oregon (OAR 629-605-
0105). In Washington, although there is no endangered species act per 
se, there is a prohibition against take of any species listed by the 
State regulatory agency (WDFW); however, there is no restriction to 
loss or modification of habitat. Further, the States may enter into 
agreements with Federal agencies to administer and manage any area 
required for the conservation, management, enhancement, or protection 
of endangered species. Funds

[[Page 61500]]

for these activities could be made available under section 6 of the Act 
(Cooperation with the States) or through competitive application to 
receive funding through our Recovery Program under section 4 of the 
Act. Thus, the Federal protection afforded to these subspecies by 
listing them as endangered or threatened species is reinforced and 
supplemented by protection under State law.

Special Rule

    Under section 4(d) of the Act, the Secretary may publish a special 
rule that modifies the standard protections for threatened species in 
the Service's regulations at 50 CFR 17.31, which implement section 9 of 
the Act, with special measures that are determined to be necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. As a means to 
promote conservation efforts by encouraging activities that 
inadvertently create needed habitat for streaked horned lark, we are 
issuing a special rule for this species under section 4(d) of the Act. 
In the case of a special rule, the general regulations (50 CFR 17.31 
and 17.71) applying most prohibitions under section 9 of the Act to 
threatened species do not apply to that species, and the special rule 
contains the prohibitions necessary and appropriate to conserve that 
species. Under the special rule, take of streaked horned lark caused by 
certain common practices by agricultural operations; by wildlife hazard 
management at airports on State, county, private, or tribal lands; and 
by noxious weed control conducted on non-federal lands would be exempt 
from section 9 of the Act. Activities on Federal lands or with any 
Federal agency involvement will still need to be addressed through 
consultation under section 7 of the Act.
    Wildlife Hazard Management at Airports. Some management actions 
taken at airports are generally beneficial to streaked horned larks. 
Streaked horned larks have been documented to breed successfully and to 
maintain populations at airports in the south Puget Sound and 
Willamette Valley. Airports routinely implement programs to minimize 
the presence of hazardous wildlife on airfields, and these activities 
unintentionally create suitable habitat for streaked horned larks. The 
special rule for airport management acknowledges the benefits to larks 
from these activities; covered actions include vegetation management to 
maintain desired grass height on or adjacent to airports through 
mowing, discing, herbicide use, or burning; hazing of hazardous 
wildlife (geese, and other large birds and mammals); routine 
management, repair, and maintenance of roads and runways; and 
modification and management of forage, water, and shelter to be less 
attractive to these hazardous wildlife, as described under the 
Regulation Promulgation section, below. Many of the activities that 
benefit the streaked horned lark on non-Federal airports are a result 
of practices to maintain safe conditions for aviation; we recommend 
that airport operators follow the guidance provided in Federal Aviation 
Administration advisory circular 150/5200-33C Hazardous Wildlife 
Attractants on or Near Airports (FAA 2007, entire), and all other 
applicable related guidance. We also exempt take associated with 
accidental aircraft strikes, as these strikes are an unavoidable 
consequence of creation of habitat for larks on airfields.
    The listing of the streaked horned lark imposes a requirement on 
airport managers where the subspecies occurs to consider the effects of 
their management activities on this subspecies. It is likely that 
airport managers would take actions to deter the subspecies from areas 
where it currently occurs in order to avoid the burden of the resulting 
take restrictions that would accrue from the presence of a listed 
species. However, this special rule, which exempts the non-Federal 
airport activities listed above, and which may otherwise result in take 
under section 9 of the Act, eliminates the incentive for airports to 
reduce or eliminate populations of streaked horned larks from the 
airfields.
    Agricultural Practices. The largest area of potential habitat for 
streaked horned larks is the agricultural land base in the Willamette 
Valley, Oregon. The wide open landscape context and low vegetation 
structure in agricultural fields, especially in grass seed fields, 
attract larks, probably because those working landscapes resemble the 
natural habitats formerly used by the subspecies when the natural 
disturbances associated with floods and fires maintained a mosaic of 
suitable habitats for the subspecies. Habitat characteristics of 
agricultural lands used by streaked horned larks include: (1) Bare or 
sparsely vegetated areas within or adjacent to grass seed fields, 
pastures, or fallow fields; (2) recently planted (0-3 years) Christmas 
tree farms with extensive bare ground; and (3) wetland mudflats or 
``drown outs'' (i.e., washed out and poorly performing areas within 
grass seed or row crop fields). Currently, there are approximately 
420,000 acres (169,968 ha) of grass seed fields in the Willamette 
Valley, and an additional approximately 500,000 acres (202,343 ha) of 
other agriculture. In any year, some portion of these roughly 1 million 
acres (404,685 ha) will have suitable streaked horned lark habitat, but 
the geographic location of those areas may not be consistent from year 
to year, nor can we predict their occurrence.
    While some agricultural activities may harm or kill individual 
streaked horned larks, maintenance of extensive agricultural lands in 
the Willamette Valley is crucial to maintaining the population of 
streaked horned larks in the valley. Section 9 of the Act provides 
general prohibitions on activities that would result in take of a 
threatened species; however, the Service recognizes that routine 
agricultural activities, even those with the potential to inadvertently 
take individual streaked horned larks, are necessary components of 
agricultural operations and create habitat that may provide for the 
long-term conservation needs of the subspecies. The Service recognizes 
that in the long term, it is a benefit to streaked horned larks to 
maintain those aspects of the Willamette Valley's agricultural 
landscape that can aid in the recovery of the subspecies. We believe 
this special rule will further conservation of the subspecies by 
discouraging conversions of the agricultural landscape into habitats 
unsuitable for the streaked horned lark and encouraging landowners to 
continue managing the remaining landscape in ways that meet the needs 
of their operation and provide suitable habitat for the streaked horned 
lark.
    In addition, we believe that, in certain instances, easing the 
general take prohibitions on non-federal agricultural lands may 
encourage continued responsible land uses that provide an overall 
benefit to the subspecies. We also believe that such a special rule 
will promote the conservation efforts and private lands partnerships 
critical for species recovery (Bean and Wilcove 1997, pp. 1-2). 
However, in easing the take prohibitions under section 9, the measures 
developed in the special rule must also contain prohibitions necessary 
and appropriate to conserve the species. As discussed elsewhere in this 
rule, streaked horned larks face many threats. Foremost among these is 
the scarcity of large, open spaces with very early seral stage 
vegetation. In the Willamette Valley, large expanses of burned prairie 
or the scour plains of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers may have 
provided suitable habitat for streaked horned larks in the past. With 
the loss of these natural habitats during the last century, alternative 
breeding and wintering sites, including active agricultural lands, have 
become critical for the continued survival and recovery

[[Page 61501]]

of the streaked horned lark. The unique challenge for conservation of 
the streaked horned lark on agricultural lands will be to find a way to 
work with private landowners to voluntarily create habitat for the 
subspecies rather than allow the habitats on their lands to become 
unsuitable through inaction. Section 9 of the Act prohibits a range of 
actions that would take a listed species, including actions that 
destroy habitats essential to individuals of the species. However, 
section 9 of the Act does not prohibit inaction; thus, a landowner's 
failure to disturb habitat on a regular basis to maintain the 
vegetation structure needed by streaked horned larks would not be a 
violation of section 9 of the Act. If recovery of the streaked horned 
lark requires the availability of agricultural lands in the Willamette 
Valley, and we believe it does, then we need to give landowners reasons 
and incentives to manage their lands in ways that allow larks to thrive 
on those lands.
    While it appears that streaked horned larks may be benefiting from 
agricultural practices in the Willamette Valley, much remains to be 
learned about the effects of agricultural activities on the streaked 
horned lark. We have concluded that developing a conservation 
partnership with the agricultural community will allow us to answer 
important questions about the impact of various agricultural practices, 
and will provide valuable information to assist in the recovery of the 
subspecies. We further believe that, where consistent with the 
discretion provided by the Act, implementing policies that promote such 
partnerships is an essential component for the recovery of listed 
species, particularly where species occur on private lands. 
Conservation partnerships can provide positive incentives to private 
landowners to voluntarily conserve natural resources, and can remove or 
reduce disincentives to conservation (Knight 1999, p. 224; Brook at al. 
2003, p. 1644; Sorice et al. 2011, p. 594). The Service will work 
closely with the farming community in the Willamette Valley to develop 
ways to monitor impacts on streaked horned larks from routine 
agricultural activities. We conclude that this commitment is necessary 
and appropriate, and will provide further insights into land 
stewardship practices that foster the continued use of the Willamette 
Valley farm land in ways beneficial to both streaked horned larks and 
the agricultural community.
    In response to public comments received on the proposed rule, we 
have revised the 4(d) special rule for the streaked horned lark. We 
have determined that exempting specified agricultural operations in the 
Willamette Valley of Oregon, rather than rangewide, as originally 
proposed, from the take prohibitions under section 9 of the Act, is the 
appropriate scope for the 4(d) special rule for agricultural 
activities. We are limiting the application of the 4(d) special rule 
for agricultural activities to the Willamette Valley in Oregon because 
we have no information to suggest that the streaked horned lark uses 
agricultural lands in Washington State.
    We have also revised the list of agricultural activities that are 
exempt from the take prohibitions under section 9 of the Act based on 
feedback from agricultural interests. We are aligning the definition of 
``normal farming practices'' and ``normal transportation activities'' 
to be consistent with relevant Oregon state laws (ORS Sec.  30.930 and 
Sec.  30.931, respectively). We have also amended the list of covered 
activities to address specific agricultural practices in the Willamette 
Valley that may affect the streaked horned lark. Based on feedback from 
agricultural interests, we deleted several activities from the 4(d) 
special rule (i.e., routine management and maintenance of stock ponds 
and berms to maintain livestock water supplies; routine maintenance or 
construction of fences for grazing management; placement of mineral 
supplements; and irrigation of agricultural crops, fields, and 
livestock pastures) and added others (i.e., hazing of geese and 
predators; and maintenance of irrigation and drainage systems). Please 
see the Summary of Changes from the Proposed Rule section of this 
document for a complete list of changes to the 4(d) special rule 
between the proposed and final rule stages.
    We believe that a 4(d) rule for agricultural lands in the 
Willamette Valley is necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of streaked horned lark. We therefore exempt take of 
streaked horned larks resulting from normal farming activities, which 
are specified below in the Regulation Promulgation section, under 
section 9 of the Act.
    Noxious Weed Control on Non-Federal Lands. Based on public 
comments, we are adding noxious weed control activities on non-federal 
lands to the list of activities in the 4(d) special rule that are 
exempt from take under section 9 of the Act.
    Streaked horned larks nest, forage, and winter on extensive areas 
of bare ground with low-statured vegetation. These areas include native 
prairies, coastal dunes, fallow and active agricultural fields, wetland 
mudflats, sparsely vegetated edges of grass fields, recently planted 
Christmas tree farms with extensive bare ground, moderately to heavily 
grazed pastures, gravel roads or gravel shoulders of lightly traveled 
roads, airports, and dredge deposition sites in the lower Columbia 
River. As mentioned under Factor A, the suppression and loss of 
ecological disturbance regimes, such as fire and flooding, across vast 
portions of the landscape have resulted in altered vegetation structure 
in these habitat types. This has facilitated invasion by nonnative 
grasses and woody vegetation, including noxious weeds, rendering 
habitat unsuitable for streaked horned larks.
    Habitat management to maintain low-statured vegetation is essential 
to maintaining suitable nesting, wintering, and foraging habitat for 
streaked horned larks. Although streaked horned larks are known to eat 
the seeds of weedy forbs and grasses, and while improperly timed 
actions can destroy nests and young, removal of noxious weeds wherever 
they may occur will help to maintain the low-statured vegetation 
required by nesting and wintering larks. Targeted plants include those 
on County, State, and Federal noxious weed lists (see State and Federal 
lists via links at http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxiousDriver; 
Washington State counties each have a noxious weed control Web site, 
and selected Oregon State counties maintain noxious weed lists). By 
their nature, noxious weeds grow aggressively and multiply quickly, 
negatively affecting all types of habitats, including those used by 
larks. Some species of noxious weeds spread across long distances 
through wind, water, and animals, as well as via humans and vehicles, 
thereby affecting habitats far away from the source plants.
    Section 9 of the Act provides general prohibitions on activities 
that would result in take of a threatened species; however, the Service 
recognizes that removal of noxious weeds, even those with the potential 
to inadvertently take individual streaked horned larks, is necessary 
and may in part provide for the long-term conservation needs of the 
streaked horned lark. The Service recognizes that in the long term, it 
is a benefit to streaked horned lark to remove noxious weeds wherever 
they may occur. We believe this special rule will further the 
conservation of the species by helping to prevent spread of those 
noxious weeds that may render habitat unsuitable for the streaked 
horned lark, and by encouraging landowners to manage their lands in 
ways that meet their property

[[Page 61502]]

management needs as well as helping to prevent degradation or loss of 
suitable habitat for the streaked horned lark. We therefore exempt take 
of the streaked horned lark under section 9 of the Act resulting from 
routine removal or other management of noxious weeds, as described 
under the Regulation Promulgation section, below.
Provisions of the Special Rule
    We determine that issuance of this special rule is necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of the streaked horned lark. 
We believe the actions and activities discussed above, while they may 
cause some level of harm to or disturbance of the streaked horned lark, 
create and improve habitat for the subspecies, and are important 
elements in the subspecies' conservation and recovery efforts. Exempted 
activities include existing routine airport practices as outlined above 
by non-Federal entities on existing airports, agricultural activities, 
and control of noxious weeds on non-Federal lands.

Required Determinations

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be 
prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or 
threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a 
notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal 
Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this rule is available 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-
2012-0080 or upon request from the Field Supervisor, Washington Fish 
and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).

Authors

    The primary authors of this document are staff of the Washington 
and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Offices.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245, unless 
otherwise noted.


0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h), the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, as follows:
0
a. By adding an entry for ``Lark, streaked horned'' in alphabetical 
order under BIRDS; and
0
b. By adding an entry for ``Butterfly, Taylor's checkerspot'' in 
alphabetical order under INSECTS.
    The additions read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
              Birds
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Lark, streaked horned............  Eremophila alpestris  U.S.A. (WA, OR),     Entire.............  T                       824     17.95(b)     17.41(a)
                                    strigata.             Canada (BC).
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
             Insects
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Butterfly, Taylor's checkerspot..  Euphydryas editha     U.S.A. (WA, OR),     NA.................  E                       824     17.95(i)           NA
                                    taylori.              Canada (BC).
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


0
3. Amend Sec.  17.41 by adding paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  17.41  Special rules--birds.

    (a) Streaked horned lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata). (1) Which 
populations of the streaked horned lark are covered by this special 
rule? The components of this special rule that apply to airport 
management and noxious weed control cover the rangewide distribution of 
this bird; the agricultural component applies only to the Willamette 
Valley in Oregon.
    (2) What activities are prohibited? Except as noted in paragraphs 
(a)(3), (4), and (5) of this section, all prohibitions of Sec.  17.31 
apply to the streaked horned lark.
    (3) What activities are allowed on airports on non-Federal lands? 
(i) Incidental take of the streaked horned lark will not be a violation 
of section 9 of the Act, if the incidental take results from routine 
management activities associated with airport operations to minimize 
hazardous wildlife, consistent with regulations at 14 CFR 139.337.
    (ii) Hazardous wildlife is defined by the Federal Aviation 
Administration as species of wildlife, including feral animals and 
domesticated animals not under control, that are associated with 
aircraft strike problems, are capable of causing structural damage to 
airport facilities, or act as attractants to other wildlife that pose a 
strike hazard. Routine management activities include, but are not 
limited to, the following:
    (A) Routine management, repair, and maintenance of roads and 
runways

[[Page 61503]]

(does not include upgrades or construction of new roads or runways);
    (B) Control and management of vegetation (grass, weeds, shrubs, and 
trees) through mowing, discing, herbicide application, or burning;
    (C) Hazing of hazardous wildlife; and
    (D) Habitat modification and management of sources of forage, 
water, and shelter to reduce the attractiveness of the area around the 
airport for hazardous wildlife.
    (iii) Incidental take of larks caused by accidental aircraft 
strikes at airports on non-Federal lands is also exempted from the 
prohibitions of section 9 of the Act.
    (4) What agricultural activities are allowed on non-Federal land in 
the Willamette Valley in Oregon? Incidental take of streaked horned 
lark will not be a violation of section 9 of the Act, if the incidental 
take results from accepted agricultural (farming) practices implemented 
on farms consistent with State laws on non-Federal lands.
    (i) For the purposes of this special rule, farm means any facility, 
including land, buildings, watercourses and appurtenances, used in the 
commercial production of crops, nursery stock, livestock, poultry, 
livestock products, poultry products, vermiculture products, or the 
propagation and raising of nursery stock.
    (ii) For the purposes of this special rule, an agricultural 
(farming) practice means a mode of operation on a farm that:
    (A) Is or may be used on a farm of a similar nature;
    (B) Is a generally accepted, reasonable, and prudent method for the 
operation of the farm to obtain a profit in money;
    (C) Is or may become a generally accepted, reasonable, and prudent 
method in conjunction with farm use;
    (D) Complies with applicable State laws; and
    (E) Is done in a reasonable and prudent manner.
    (iii) Accepted agricultural (farming) practices include, but are 
not limited to, the following activities:
    (A) Planting, harvesting, rotation, mowing, tilling, discing, 
burning, and herbicide application to crops;
    (B) Normal transportation activities, and repair and maintenance of 
unimproved farm roads (this exemption does not include improvement or 
construction of new roads) and graveled margins of rural roads;
    (C) Livestock grazing according to normally acceptable and 
established levels;
    (D) Hazing of geese or predators; and
    (E) Maintenance of irrigation and drainage systems.
    (5) What noxious weed control activities are allowed on non-Federal 
lands? Incidental take of streaked horned lark will not be a violation 
of section 9 of the Act, if the incidental take results from routine 
removal or other management of noxious weeds. Routine removal or other 
management of noxious weeds are limited to the following, and must be 
conducted in such a way that impacts to non-target plants are avoided 
to the maximum extent practicable:
    (i) Mowing;
    (ii) Herbicide and fungicide application;
    (iii) Fumigation; and
    (iv) Burning.
* * * * *

    Dated: September 17, 2013.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-23567 Filed 10-2-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P