[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 244 (Thursday, December 19, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 76795-76807]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-29967]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2013-0127; 4500030113]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
on a Petition To List Coleman's Coralroot as an Endangered or 
Threatened Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
12-month finding on a petition to list Hexalectris colemanii (Coleman's 
coralroot) as an endangered or threatened species and to designate 
critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial 
information, we find that listing Coleman's coralroot is not warranted 
at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new 
information that becomes available concerning the threats to the 
species or its habitat at any time.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on December 19, 
2013.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R2-ES-2013-0127. Supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 
2321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021. Please submit 
any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this 
finding to the above address.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    In this document we refer to Hexalectris colemanii as Coleman's 
coralroot.
    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires 
that, for any petition to revise the Federal Lists of Threatened and 
Endangered Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific or 
commercial information that listing a species may be warranted, we make 
a finding within 12 months of the date of receipt of the petition. In 
this finding, we determine whether the petitioned action is: (a) Not 
warranted, (b) warranted, or (c) warranted, but immediate proposal of a 
regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by other 
pending proposals to determine whether species are threatened or 
endangered, and expeditious progress is being made to add or remove 
qualified species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants. Section 4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires that we 
treat a petition for which the requested action is found to be 
warranted but precluded as though resubmitted on the date of such 
finding, that is, requiring a subsequent finding to be made within 12 
months. We must publish these 12-month findings in the Federal 
Register.

Previous Federal Actions

    On June 25, 2007, we received a formal petition dated June 18, 
2007, from Forest Guardians (now WildEarth Guardians), requesting that 
we list 475 southwest species, including Hexalectris revoluta (Chisos 
coralroot), under the Act as either endangered or threatened with 
critical habitat. We sent a letter to the petitioner dated July 11, 
2007, acknowledging receipt of the petition and stating that the 
petition was under review by staff in our Southwest Regional Office.
    On December 16, 2009 (74 FR 66866), we determined that we had 
substantial information to indicate that listing the Chisos coralroot 
as endangered or threatened may be warranted. At that time, we believed 
the Chisos coralroot included the entity now known as Coleman's 
coralroot. On September 8, 2010, we received a petition dated the same 
day from The Center for Biological Diversity requesting that Coleman's 
coralroot be listed separately from Chisos coralroot as an endangered 
or threatened species under the Act and critical habitat be designated. 
We acknowledged receipt of the petition via electronic mail to The 
Center for Biological Diversity on September 8, 2010. On December 1, 
2011, we sent another letter to The Center for Biological Diversity 
acknowledging that Coleman's coralroot was considered a separate 
species from the Chisos coralroot as of 2010. In the 2011 letter, we 
stated that because the Coleman's coralroot was considered to be a form 
of Chisos coralroot in 2009 when we made a substantial 90-day finding 
for the Chisos coralroot, we already consider a substantial 90-day 
finding to be in place for the Coleman's coralroot, and that we would 
further address the petition when workload and funding allow.
    On January 30, 2013, we notified interested parties and agencies 
that we would be conducting a status review of Coleman's coralroot and 
requested information. We received one response letter from Pima 
County, AZ. We also informally reached out via email and telephone to 
staff at the Coronado National Forest (Coronado NF), WestLand 
Resources, Tohono O'odham Nation, and other experts. In addition, on 
February 14, 2013, the Service entered into a stipulated settlement 
agreement with The Center for Biological Diversity to review the status 
of the Coleman's coralroot and submit to the Federal Register a 12-
month finding as to whether listing of the species as an endangered or 
threatened species is (a) not warranted; (b) warranted; or (c) 
warranted but precluded by other pending proposals, pursuant to 16 
U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(B) by December 31, 2013. This Federal Register 
document constitutes our 12-month finding on the September 8, 2010, 
petition to list the Coleman's coralroot as an endangered or threatened 
species and to designate critical habitat, based on our 2009 positive 
90-day finding. This document also fulfills the obligations of the 
Service from the February 14, 2013, settlement agreement.

Species Information

Description and Taxonomy
    A member of the orchid family (Orchidaceae), Coleman's coralroot is 
a perennial herb that forms a short,

[[Page 76796]]

segmented, vertical rhizome or spike. The species has pinkish-cream 
stems that measure 46 to 55 centimeters (cm) (18 to 22 inches (in)); 
inflorescences (flowering part of plant) measure 20 to 23 cm (8 to 9 
in) with sepals and petals whitish or creamy-pink to very pale brown at 
the tips and partly with noticeable bands of magenta or maroon (Catling 
2004, pp. 14-15). The species has a chasmogamous flower (one that opens 
to allow for pollination) with a well-developed rostellum (structure 
that prevents self-pollination) (Kennedy and Watson 2010, p. 74). 
Coleman's coralroot is identifiable by the sepals and lateral petals, 
which are rolled back along the outer third of their length by more 
than 360 degrees forming a tight coil (Coleman 2002, p. 99).
    Coleman's coralroot was originally identified as Hexalectris 
spicata from specimens collected by Toolin and Reichenbacher in 1981 
and by McLauglin in 1986 (Coleman 1999, pp. 312-14; Coleman 2000 
entire; Coleman 2001, p. 96). These specimens were later treated as H. 
revoluta by Coleman (1999, pp. 314-315). Using morphological 
characteristics (the physical form or structure of an organism or any 
of its parts), Catling (2004, pp. 14-16) described H. revoluta var. 
colemanii as a variety of H. revoluta. Utilizing phylogenetic analyses 
(the assessment of the genetic relatedness of organisms), as well as 
morphological characters, Kennedy and Watson (2010, pp. 65, 73-74) 
concluded that H. revoluta var. colemanii should be recognized at the 
species rank as H. colemanii.
    In September of 2010, we solicited independent peer review of the 
suggested classification of Hexalectris colemanii by Kennedy and Watson 
(2010) as a separate species. Three reviewers opined that Kennedy and 
Watson (2010) properly treated H. colemanii as a separate and distinct 
species (Jenkins 2010, pers. comm.; Sharma 2010, pers. comm.; Liggio 
2010, pers. comm.), while two reviewers opined that, although H. 
revoluta var. colemanii is a distinct taxonomic entity at the rank of 
variety, it does not merit treatment as a separate species (Goldman 
2010, pers. comm.; Freudenstein 2010, pers. comm.). In plant 
classification, the use of the term ``variety'' is generally synonymous 
with the term ``subspecies''.
    Jenkins (2010, pers. comm.) offered that the methods and testing in 
Kennedy and Watson (2010) were good and certainly would survive any 
criticism from a reviewer who is acquainted with these methods, and 
their work showed good evidence that Hexalectris colemanii and H. 
arizonicus were reliably different from the other species sampled. 
Sharma (2010, pers. comm.) offered that the markers analyzed were 
appropriate for the question with regard to whether the different taxa 
represent individual taxonomic units or whether they should be 
considered single taxonomic units, and it is evident that H. colemanii 
stands out as a separate taxonomic unit, i.e., a species, especially 
when considered along with the morphological differences that separate 
it from its close relatives. Liggio (2010, pers. comm) offered that 
Kennedy and Watson (2010) present phylogenetic evidence that H. 
colemanii is a distinct taxon, as well as morphological characters that 
distinguish it from other members of the Hexalectris spicata complex, 
H. revoluta, the western clade of H. spicata and H. arizonica. Goldman 
(2010, pers. comm.) offered that Kennedy and Watson (2010) support its 
distinction from H. revoluta var. revoluta, but it seems to have 
different relationships with various species based upon which phylogeny 
is examined (with possible hybridization inferred), and one could also 
suspect that it is part of the other new species described in that 2010 
paper, H. arizonica, merely as a variety of H. arizonica (or vice-
versa). Freudenstein (2010, pers. comm.) offered that the real 
contribution of Kennedy and Watson (2010) has been the addition of 
molecular data, but the tree obtained from nuclear locus suggests the 
two varieties of H. revoluta are not very distinct from each other.
    In conclusion, even though two of our five peer reviewers felt that 
Coleman's coralroot should not be treated as a separate species, they 
still believe it is a distinct taxonomic entity (i.e., variety). 
Furthermore, three reviewers agreed with Kennedy and Watson (2010) that 
Coleman's coralroot is a separate and distinct species. Additionally, 
the Kennedy and Watson (2010) study that denoted Coleman's coralroot as 
a separate species was published in Systematic Botany, which is a peer-
reviewed and widely accepted scientific journal. Based on the 
morphological and phylogenetic analysis conducted by Kennedy and Watson 
(2010, entire), the fact that this study was published in a peer-
reviewed scientific journal, and because the scientific community has 
generally accepted Kennedy and Watson's 2010 determination that the 
Coleman's coralroot is a distinct taxonomic entity as noted by our own 
peer reviewers, we conclude that the Coleman's coralroot should be 
recognized as a separate species. Therefore, based on the best 
scientific information available, we recognize Coleman's coralroot 
(Hexalectris colemanii) as a distinct species.
Habitat and Life History
    Orchids, such as Coleman's coralroot, may be found either as 
individual plants or as part of a colony. The determination of what 
constitutes a colony, or cluster, is largely based on subjective 
professional expertise, taking into consideration factors such as local 
geography and relative distance between plants. A colony or cluster can 
range from a relatively small number of individual orchids to many 
hundred individual plants. A colony or cluster can also span across 
areas of varying size and may be primarily interconnected below the 
ground level, though this not known with a level of certainty.
    Coleman's coralroot grows in moderate shade in oak (Quercus spp.) 
woodland canyons, hills, and drainages at elevations between 1,315 to 
1,826 meters (m) (4,315 to 5,990 feet (ft)) in southeastern Arizona and 
southwestern New Mexico (Coleman 1999, p. 315; 2002, pp. 100-101; 
Catling 2004, pp. 15-16; Baker 2012a, p. 9; WestLand Resources 2012a, 
pp. 5-7; 2012b, p. 10; 2012c, p. 5; 2012d, pp. 8-10). Though dominated 
by oaks, and primarily by white oak (Q. grisea), these woodlands also 
include juniper (Juniperus spp.), mesquite (Prosopis spp.), Arizona 
black walnut (Juglans major), acacia (Acacia spp.), desert willow 
(Chilopsis linearis), and Wright sycamore (Platanus wrightii). 
Individual and orchid colonies establish themselves in soil, duff, 
humus, and heavy leaf litter under trees such as oak and mesquite, or 
among rock outcrops or the edges of rocky cliffs (Coleman 1999, p. 315; 
Coleman 2002, p. 101). In a study of general habitat characteristics, 
WestLand Resources (2012a, pp. 5-6) found that study sites with 
Coleman's coralroot and Hexalectris arizonica (Arizona crested 
coralroot) were predominantly characterized by sandy loam or sandy clay 
loam soils, had an average 44 percent canopy cover, and slopes ranging 
from 1 to 60 percent. This observation is similar to the findings of 
Collins et al. (2005, pp. 1,886-1,888), who found that Hexalectris 
orchid locations in Texas where statistically correlated with loamy 
carbonatic soils and sites with less than 60 percent canopy cover. 
Microhabitat parameters appear to vary considerably across known sites 
(WestLand Resources 2012d, pp. 9-10), making it difficult to identify 
specific conditions needed by the species.

[[Page 76797]]

    Plants of the family Orchidaceae are predisposed to 
mycoheterotrophy (Kennedy et al. 2011, p. 1,303), meaning they do not 
use photosynthesis to make food, but rather obtain food via 
relationships with root fungi that have colonized the roots of trees 
(Leake 1994, pp. 171-172; Taylor et al. 2003, pp. 1,168-1,169), and 
members of the genus Hexalectris are fully mycoheterotrophic (Coleman 
2002, p. 91). This mutualism between photosynthetic plants and root 
fungi, whereby plants and fungi acquire carbon from one another, is 
referred to as mycorrhizal symbiosis. However, mycoheterotrophy in 
Hexalectris orchids is entirely one-sided in favor of the orchid, and 
they have often been described as parasites. Because Coleman's 
coralroot occur predominantly in well-developed white oak woodlands, it 
seems likely that the preferred fungus grows on the roots of white oak, 
or perhaps in the duff and humus layer near oaks. Hexalectris orchids 
exhibit a high degree of mychorrhizal specificity, meaning they have a 
very restricted range of fungal associates, and the morphology of 
Hexalectris orchids suggests they depend heavily on specific fungi 
(Kennedy et al. 2011, pp. 1,309-1,313; Taylor et al. 2003, pp. 1,175-
1,177). Members of the fungal group Sebacinaceae have been identified 
as the sole fungal associate of Coleman's coralroot (Kennedy et al. 
2011, pp. 1,307-1,313). Although we have no specific information on the 
distribution of Sebacinaceae in Arizona, it is reasonable to infer a 
wide geographic distribution because Coleman's coralroot associates 
with sebacinaceous fungi of widely distant subclades or groups that 
have been identified from western Mexico to the eastern United States 
(Kennedy et al. 2011, p. 1,313).
    Relatively little is known about the reproductive biology of 
Coleman's coralroot or other orchids within the genus Hexalectris. 
Autogamy (self-pollination) is reported for other members of this 
genus, though Coleman's coralroot is considered to be an obligate 
outbreeding taxon (relies on cross pollination) with a distinct 
rostellum (flower structure that prevents self-pollination) (Argue 
2012, p. 144). Argue (2012, p. 144) suggests insects play a role in 
pollination of Hexalectris orchids. Hill (2007, p. 15) suggests H. 
spicata may require insect pollination because the flowers are 
``medium-sized and showy'' and reports observation of a bumblebee 
(Bombus impatiens) visiting the flowers of an individual plant in 
Indiana. Buchman et al. (2010, pp. 4, 39) suggests that large bees, 
such as Bombus and Xylocopa, are likely pollinators of H. warnockii. 
Klooster and Culley (2009, pp. 1,340-1,343) found that Bombus spp. were 
the most reliable floral visitors and the primary pollen dispersal 
agents for two mycoheterotrophic orchids in the subfamily 
Monotropoideae. Several species of Bombus have been reported from the 
mountains of southern Arizona (Schmidt and Jacobson 2005, pp. 128-129), 
and Coleman's coralroot may be pollinated by a member of this genus. 
Additionally, the presence of beetles and ants on the flowers of 
Hexalectris, including Coleman's coralroot, has been documented (Sharma 
2013, pers. comm.). It is not clear if Coleman's coralroot produces 
nectar in any significant amount, or if the species could attract 
potential pollinators merely through floral scent.
    To what degree these orchid colonies exchange genetic material is 
unknown, but tiny wind-blown seeds can travel thousands of kilometers 
(Jers[aacute]kov[aacute] and Malinov[aacute] 2007, p. 238). 
Additionally, the potential for a Bombus pollinator provides some 
context to evaluate orchid colony relationships. Although we were 
unable to locate information for local Bombus, Carvell et al. (2012, p. 
738) reported 2,317 m (7,602 ft) as the maximum foraging distance for 
B. pascuorum, a species from Britain, suggesting that colonies within 
this distance from one another may exchange genetic material through a 
shared pollinator. However, this situation has not been documented for 
Coleman's coralroot.
    Like most mycoheterotrophs, Coleman's coralroot is almost 
exclusively subterranean and survives mostly as an underground tuber or 
rhizome (Leake 1994, p. 172; WestLand Resources 2012d, p. 2). For 
mycoheterotrophic orchids to reach reproductive maturity may take 10 to 
20 years (Hill 2007, p. 16; WestLand Resources 2012c, p. 3), though 
Coleman's coralroot likely takes 4 to 10 years (Coleman 2013, pers. 
comm.). Researchers suspect that a plant blooms only once then dies, 
because rhizomes have been observed to bloom more than once on only a 
few occasions (Coleman 2013, pers. comm.). For plants that do bloom 
more than once, the period of vegetative dormancy between flowering can 
be several years (WestLand Resources 2012c, p. 4). Due to the 
uncertainty surrounding maturation and blooming, how long an individual 
plant can live is currently unknown.
    The total number of blooming individuals fluctuates widely from 
year to year and the species is considered an erratic, unreliable 
bloomer in successive years (Coleman 2001, p. 96; 2005, p. 250; 2013, 
p. 16). Coleman (2002, p. 101) noted that in some years all plants that 
send up spikes will put on a good display of flowers, while in other 
years none of the plants that sprout will bloom. When individual plants 
do bloom, the inflorescence (flowering part of the plant) emerges in 
April and flowers bloom between early May and mid-June (Coleman 2002, 
p. 101; Catling 2004, p. 15; WestLand Resources 2010, p. 3). The 
species sets capsules (seed-bearing structures) very infrequently 
(Coleman 2013, p. 18), which may be related to the biology of the 
pollinator. Orchids that do successfully set capsules can produce 
millions of microscopic seeds that are dispersed by the wind over long 
distances and are reliant upon fungi for germination (WestLand 
Resources 2012c, pp. 2-3; Hill 2007, p. 17; Leake 1994, p. 172). 
Because of the small seed size, individual seeds likely have low 
nutrient reserves and seedbanks are likely short-lived.
    The quality and quantity of blooming plants in the genus 
Hexalectris appears to be influenced by rainfall patterns (Coleman 
2002, p. 101; Argue 2012, p. 145). For instance, Collins et al. (2005, 
p. 1,888) reported a large number of Hexalectris blooms in Texas 
following late spring rains. Engel (2013, p. 2) also reported a 
correlation between blooming for H. nitida in Texas and late spring 
rains over a 7-year period. For Coleman's coralroot, Coleman (2005, pp. 
249-250) found that the number of blooming plants at two sites in 
Arizona correlated very closely with winter rains (October to May) from 
1996 to 2003. WestLand Resources (2012c, pp. 10-11) demonstrated that 
flowering for Coleman's coralroot is highly correlated with October to 
March rainfall totals, and hypothesized that flowering may be 
positively correlated with cold wintertime temperatures because 
wintertime temperatures from 2008 to 2012 were exceptionally low.
Range and Distribution
    Coleman's coralroot occurs within oak woodland communities across 
southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. When Coleman's 
coralroot was recognized as a separate species in 2010, it was known 
only from three sites in the Santa Rita and Dragoon Mountains of 
southern Arizona (Center for Biological Diversity 2010, pp. 4-7). Since 
that time, extensive surveys have been conducted for the species in 
numerous mountain ranges across southeastern Arizona (WestLand 
Resources 2010, 2012b, 2012d, 2103, entire). In 2012 alone, WestLand

[[Page 76798]]

Resources (2012b, p. 50) surveyed 181 canyons in 16 mountain ranges. As 
of July 2013, the species has been positively identified in 22 
confirmed extant colonies across seven mountain ranges, including the 
Santa Rita, Whetstone, Dragoon, Chiricahua, Patagonia, Peloncillo, and 
Baboquivari Mountains in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New 
Mexico (Coleman 2001, p. 96; Catling 2004, p. 15; Coleman 2010, pp. 1-
2; WestLand Resources 2010, pp. 9-14; 2012b, pp. 3-5; 2012d, pp. 4-8; 
2013, pp. 5-6). All confirmed extant sites are located on Coronado NF 
lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Tribal lands owned 
by the Tohono O'odham Nation.
Population Trends and Abundance
    Identifying discrete populations of Coleman's coralroot is 
challenging due to the species' life history, particularly its cryptic 
nature, the unpredictability of emergence and inflorescence, and the 
variability of habitat conditions (e.g., slope, aspect, cover). 
Furthermore, we do not have much information on population trends 
because most populations were not discovered until after 2010, when the 
Coleman's coralroot was recognized as a distinct species. Also, without 
specific knowledge of pollinators and gene exchange, making biological 
correlations regarding populations is difficult (Baker 2013, pers. 
comm.). However, orchids typically occur in patchy distributions where 
clusters of plants, or colonies, exhibit some spatial separation 
(Tremblay et al. 2006, p. 71; Winkler et al. 2009, p. 995).
    Based on our review of the available information, we have 
identified 22 confirmed extant colonies (i.e., sites) of Coleman's 
coralroot (19 on Coronado NF and 3 on Tohono O'odham Nation). This 
includes five colonies in the Santa Rita Mountains in the upper, 
middle, and lower McCleary Canyon, Wasp Canyon, and Sawmill Canyon; 
three colonies in the Dragoon Mountains including West Cochise 
Stronghold, East Cochise Stronghold, and Middlemarch Canyons; four 
colonies in the Peloncillo Mountains including Cottonwood Creek in 
Arizona, Cottonwood Creek in New Mexico, Miller Spring, and Skeleton 
Canyons; two colonies in the Whetstone Mountains including French Joe 
and Dry Canyons; four colonies in the Chiricahua Mountains including 
upper Tex Canyon, Tex Canyon, and two tributaries to Tex Canyon; one 
colony in the Patagonia Mountains in Hermosa Canyon; and three colonies 
in the Baboquivari Mountains.
    Additionally, four colonies have been identified as to the 
coralroot genus Hexalectris, but the actual species were not 
identified. These plants had already flowered when they were found 
during surveys, so the infloresence had already dried and shriveled. 
Without the flower intact, the plants could only be identified to genus 
and not to species. However, these findings could potentially be 
Coleman's coralroot sites. These include Jordan Canyon in the Santa 
Rita Mountains, Paige Creek in the Rincon Mountains, Harshaw Canyon in 
the Patagonia Mountains, and Alamo Canyon in the Canelo Hills. If these 
are Coleman's coralroot sites, the spatially separated clusters of 
plants rise to 26 sites or colonies.
    The life history of Coleman's coralroot makes the determination of 
population sizes extremely challenging, particularly because individual 
plants spend most of their lives underground where they are difficult 
to count. It is difficult to estimate population size or trends for 
subterranean orchids because the correlation between the number of 
rhizomes living underground and the number of spikes that emerge in any 
given year is unknown.
    To date, monitoring rangewide has been irregular. Prior to 2010 
only three Coleman's coralroot colonies had been monitored with 
regularity, including McCleary and Sawmill Canyons in the Santa Rita 
Mountains, and West Stronghold Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains. These 
three sites have been surveyed to varying degrees since 1996 (Coleman 
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2010 entire), and have exhibited 
significant fluctuations in the number of orchids emerging year to 
year, from zero to dozens of inflorescences. More extensive survey 
effort occurred from 2010 through 2013 (WestLand Resources 2013, p. 6), 
dramatically increasing the number of known and potential colonies of 
Coleman's coralroot. Count data collected for each colony since 2010, 
excluding those located on the Tohono O'odham Nation, is presented in 
Table 1 (Coleman 2010, p. 4; Baker 2012a, pp. 25-27; WestLand Resources 
2010, pp. 9-14; 2012b, pp. 51-55; 2012c, p. 8; 2013, p. 5; Cerasale 
2013, pers. comm.).

          Table 1--Summary of Total Counts of Inflorescence of Coleman's Coralroot by Colony, 2010-2013
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                               Year
        Mountain range               Canyon      ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       2010            2011            2012            2013
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Santa Rita....................  Upper McCleary..              95               6              46              18
                                Middle McCleary.              15               0               2               6
                                Lower McCleary..              10               0               2               2
                                Wasp............               4               0               1               0
                                Sawmill.........              25               6              23        41 (+3*)
                                Jordan..........  ..............  ..............             * 4               0
Dragoon.......................  West Stronghold.             140               1              31              13
                                East Stronghold.  ..............  ..............  ..............               1
                                Middlemarch.....  ..............  ..............               4               0
Peloncillo....................  Cottonwood Creek  ..............  ..............               5               0
                                 (AZ).
                                Cottonwood Creek  ..............  ..............               2  ..............
                                 (NM).
                                Miller Spring...  ..............  ..............               2               5
                                Skeleton........  ..............  ..............               1               0
Whetstone.....................  French Joe......  ..............  ..............              29              26
                                Dry.............  ..............  ..............               1               0
Chiricahua....................  Upper Tex.......  ..............  ..............  ..............               2
                                Tex.............  ..............  ..............             * 2               4
                                Tex west          ..............  ..............  ..............               6
                                 tributary.
                                Tex north         ..............  ..............  ..............              12
                                 tributary.
Patagonia.....................  Hermosa.........  ..............  ..............  ..............               1
                                Paige Creek.....  ..............  ..............  ..............            * 16
Rincon........................  Alamo...........  ..............  ..............  ..............             * 2

[[Page 76799]]

 
Canelo Hills..................  Harshaw.........  ..............  ..............  ..............             * 1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Reported as Hexalectris spp.

Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
(50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to the 
Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under 
section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be 
endangered or threatened based on any of the following five factors:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    In making this finding, information pertaining to the Coleman's 
coralroot in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) 
of the Act 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 threatened or endangered 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 threatened or endangered under the Act.
    In making our 12-month finding on the petition we considered and 
evaluated the best available scientific and commercial information.

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

    We have identified mining, livestock grazing, nonnative invasive 
plants species, wildfire, drought, and climate change as potential 
threats to the habitat or range of the Coleman's coralroot.
Mining
    Mining is a significant component of the history and economy of the 
American Southwest, particularly Arizona, and there are numerous claims 
across the southeastern portion of the State. The Coronado NF, in 
particular, has a number of mining proposals in various stages of 
planning (Sandwell-Weiss 2012, pers. comm.). Mining and mineral 
exploration could detrimentally affect orchids and their habitats 
through land clearing, construction of facilities, rock blasting, 
groundwater pumping, storm water management, toxic chemical use, and 
other mine operations. These activities could directly or indirectly 
contribute to: Direct fatality of individual orchids; the loss and 
alteration of microhabitat sites necessary for orchid survival; direct 
fatality of pollinators; and the loss and alteration of microhabitat 
sites necessary for pollinator survival. Of the 22 extant populations, 
7 Coleman's coralroot colonies occur within, or adjacent to, mineral 
claims on public lands, which include McCleary (3 colonies), Wasp (1 
colony), and Sawmill (1 colony) Canyons in the Santa Rita Mountains, 
Middlemarch Canyon (1 colony) in the Dragoon Mountains, and Hermosa 
Canyon (1 colony) in the Patagonia Mountains (USFS 2011, pp. 374, 393; 
Fonseca 2012, pp. 4-5; WestLand Resources 2012c, pp. 1, 17; USFS 2013, 
p. 6). We are aware of two mining projects that have developed plans of 
operation; the Rosemont Copper Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, which 
may affect colonies in McCleary and Wasp Canyons, and the Hermosa 
Drilling Project in the Patagonia Mountains, which may affect a colony 
in Hermosa Canyon.
    Rosemont Copper Mine--The Rosemont Copper Company has submitted a 
mine plan of operation to the Coronado NF for development of the 
Rosemont ore deposit. The proposed mine site is located on the east 
side of the Santa Rita Mountains of the Nogales Ranger District, 
approximately 48 kilometers (km) (30 miles (mi)) south of Tucson, 
Arizona. The proposed project would result in the direct disturbance of 
approximately 2,839 hectares (ha) (7,016 acres (ac)) of land, including 
513 ha (1,267 ac) of private land, 2,287 ha (5,651 ac) administered by 
the Coronado NF, 1.2 ha (3 ac) administered by the BLM, and 38 ha (95 
ac) of Arizona State Land Department land administered as a State Trust 
(SWCA 2012, p. 22). How much of this area is suitable for occupation by 
Coleman's coralroot is unknown, largely because the distribution of the 
fungal symbiont is unknown. However, the proposed project area is 
occupied by two colonies in upper McCleary Canyon and Wasp Canyon.
    Project planning is well under way, and the Coronado NF released a 
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in September 2011. The 
Rosemont Copper Mine includes an open-pit copper mine, storage area for 
waste rock and tailings, and plant facilities. The mine life, including 
construction, operation, reclamation, and closure, is approximately 25 
years. The full-scale project is expected to begin after a Final EIS 
and a Record of Decision is completed. Based on current scheduling and 
compliance, this may occur in late 2013, though the precise schedule 
for commencement of the project is not known and depends on the 
finalization of the Record of Decision. Construction and operation of 
the open pit would entail blasting ore-laden rock with ammonium nitrate 
and fuel oil explosive (WestLand Resources 2007, p. 12; USFS 2011, p. 
24). Sulfide ore would be transported, via haul trucks, to a series of 
crushers and mills to produce finely ground ore, which will be taken to 
a flotation processing plant to extract copper concentrate that will 
then be loaded for shipment (WestLand

[[Page 76800]]

Resources 2007, pp. 18-20; USFS 2011, p. 25). Waste rock and tailings 
will be placed in storage areas primarily on public lands (WestLand 
Resources 2007, p. 23; USFS 2011, p. 26).
    The Draft EIS acknowledges effects to Coleman's coralroot from the 
proposed action, owing to the construction of the mine pit in Wasp 
Canyon and the placement of dry-stack tailings in McCleary Canyon (USFS 
2011, pp. 393, 405). Based on our review of the available information, 
the entirety of two Coleman's coralroot colonies within upper McCleary 
and Wasp Canyons lie within the footprint of the preferred alternative 
(Barrel) of the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine (USFS 2011, pp. 57-58; 
Fonseca 2012, p. 2; WestLand Resources 2012c, p. 21; 2007, p. 2.6). We 
anticipate that any and all individual orchids, and their underground 
rhizomes, within the direct footprint of the pit, roads, or structures 
will be crushed and killed during vegetation clearing, the ore 
extraction process (i.e., blasting and crushing), or other operational 
activities. Any habitat blasted and transported to the crusher would no 
longer remain suitable for orchids. Additionally, we anticipate that 
any pollinator nests and hives within the direct footprint of these 
facilities would be destroyed. The loss of nearby orchids and 
pollinators within the mine footprint could affect the fitness of 
orchids remaining on the mine perimeter through a potential reduction 
in the exchange of genetic material. However, this effect cannot be 
quantified because we cannot predict how many Coleman's coralroot will 
be on the mine's perimeter in any given season.
    Two orchid colonies, one within middle McCleary Canyon and one 
within lower McCleary Canyon, are located just outside the direct 
footprint of mine facilities on the northern end of the project site. 
They appear to be directly on the edge, or within 305 m (1,000 ft) of 
the edge, of the footprint of mine facilities (USFS 2011, p. 58; 
WestLand Resources 2012c, p. 21). Due to their proximity, these 
colonies could also experience: Drying from denuded vegetation; 
increased potential for invasive species, which often favor disturbed 
habitats; increased edge effect to the oak stand and fungal 
communities; increased vulnerability to predation; alteration of 
surface and subsurface hydrology; and exposure to heavy metal 
contamination from seepage or fugitive dust. Native floristic quality 
can be negatively affected by exposure to heavy metals (Struckhoff et 
al. 2013, p. 27), and particulate pollution could lead to physiological 
stress of orchids and their habitats that remain on the mine perimeter. 
Of particular concern is particle matter that can contain acids, 
organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles (USFS 2011, p. 
170), because these compounds could potentially be toxic to orchids.
    Because fugitive dust from the tailings pile is expected to 
generally consist of coarse particles that settle out rapidly (SWCA 
2012, p. 20), we do not anticipate exposure to particulates will be 
significant. Also, the dust control plan for the mine may include the 
application of chemical dust suppressants, such as petroleum resins and 
acrylic cement (SWCA 2012, p. 19), which might ameliorate effects to 
the two colonies adjacent to the mine. Additionally, the plan of 
operation will seek to minimize fugitive dust through implementation of 
a variety of controls (e.g., application of binder materials or use of 
water spray) (USFS 2011, pp. 196-200). Although the potential for 
exposure exists, there is uncertainty regarding the magnitude of these 
potential stressors on the two Coleman's coralroot colonies and 
habitats located just outside the mine footprint. The level of exposure 
cannot be predicted and the specific vulnerability of the species to 
these stressors requires further investigation. Furthermore, because 
only 4 of the 22 known colonies would be affected by this stressor, we 
do not anticipate rangewide impacts to the overall status of the 
species. The Coleman's coralroot is known to occur across seven 
mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, 
and we have no information indicating that the remaining colonies are 
subject to impacts from mining.
    Hermosa Drilling Project--Arizona Minerals, Inc. (AMI) has 
submitted a request for approval of a plan of operation to the Coronado 
NF to implement the Hermosa Drilling Project. The project area is 
located about 9.6 km (6 mi) east of the town of Patagonia, Arizona, on 
the Sierra Vista Ranger District, and approximately 80 km (50 mi) 
southeast of Tucson, Arizona. The proposed action would extend the 
current Hermosa mineral deposit exploration program from AMI patented 
mining claims to unpatented claims on Coronado NF lands (AMI 2013, p. 
1). Site characterization activities, including mineral exploration 
drilling, hydrogeologic drilling and testing, geotechnical drilling and 
sampling, and construction and improvement of access roads would 
disturb 3.7 ha (9.2 ac) of Coronado NF lands (AMI 2013, p. 9). The 
Coronado NF is planning to prepare an Environmental Assessment. The 
precise schedule for commencement of the project is not known, though 
operations may begin as soon as 2018.
    The project area for the Hermosa drilling project overlaps the 
occurrence of one individual Coleman's coralroot in Hermosa Canyon and 
one individual Hexalectris spp. located near Harshaw Canyon. We assume 
this finding represents at least one colony, but we do not have 
sufficient information to determine how much land is occupied or if an 
entire colony would be affected. However, we anticipate that any 
orchids and rhizomes within the direct footprint of exploration 
activities would be crushed and killed during vegetation clearing, 
drilling, or other operational activities. Additionally, any habitat 
modified would no longer maintain suitability for orchids, and any 
pollinators within the direct footprint of these activities would be 
destroyed. Based on this information, a high level of certainty exists 
that at least one individual Coleman's coralroot may be destroyed.
    Other Claims--Additional mining claims exist within the known range 
of the species. For instance, Coleman's coralroot colonies in the 
Dragoon Mountains are located near mining claims. However, we have no 
information on whether these lands are closed to new mining claims, if 
the Coronado NF will require a plan of operations and an environmental 
assessment or environmental impact statement before new disturbance 
occurs, or what kind of mining activities can occur prior to Coronado 
NF oversight. Thus, we have no specific information regarding other 
mining operations that would impact Coleman's coralroot colonies.
    In conclusion of mining concerns and based on our review of the 
best available information, 7 of the 22 Coleman's coralroot colonies 
occur within, or adjacent to, mineral claims on public lands, which 
include McCleary (3 colonies), Wasp (1 colony), and Sawmill (1 colony) 
Canyons in the Santa Rita Mountains, Middlemarch Canyon (1 colony) in 
the Dragoon Mountains, and Hermosa Canyon (1 colony) in the Patagonia 
Mountains (USFS 2011, pp. 374, 393; Fonseca 2012, pp. 4-5; WestLand 
Resources 2012c, pp. 1, 17; USFS 2013, p. 6). Two Coleman's coralroot 
colonies within upper McCleary and Wasp Canyons are likely to be 
extirpated by anticipated effects from construction and operation of 
the Rosemont Copper Mine, but the five additional colonies are not 
expected to be lost. Of these five additional colonies, two colonies in 
lower and

[[Page 76801]]

middle McCleary Canyon are likely to be affected by mining operations, 
but we have a high level of uncertainty regarding effects to the 
viability of those colonies because the effect of adjacent mining 
(e.g., fugitive dust) on individual orchids is unknown. Some of the 
uncertainty is because a colony may persist underground without 
flowering parts emerging. In addition, while at least one and perhaps 
two individual orchids within Hermosa and Harshaw Canyons are likely to 
be destroyed, we do not know how the viability of a colony or colonies 
in those canyons will be affected because we do not know the 
distribution of orchids there. Further, other localities of Coleman's 
coralroot in the Dragoon Mountains are located near mining claims, but 
we have no specific information regarding ongoing or proposed mining 
operations in that area or other areas. The existence of a mining claim 
does not ensure a mineral deposit will be subject to a plan of 
operation or active mining. Therefore, the best available information 
indicates that mining does not pose a threat to the Coleman's coralroot 
now or in the future.
Livestock Grazing
    Cattle grazing in Arizona began in 1696, but ranching did not 
proliferate to any extent until the 1870's (Clemensen 1987, p. 1). The 
Coronado NF has been managing livestock grazing on its lands since the 
early 1900's (Allen 1989, pp. 14-17). Nineteen of the 22 confirmed 
extant Coleman's coralroot colonies occur on the Coronado NF within 
USFS grazing allotments. Although the Coleman's coralroot is currently 
a USFS sensitive species, we do not have any information indicating 
that these allotments contain stipulations that protect the species. 
Livestock grazing is cited as a contributing factor in the extirpation 
of the species from Baboquivari Canyon on BLM lands (Center for 
Biological Diversity 2010, p. 10, Coleman 2010, pers. comm.), though 
specific evidence is not provided. Hexalectris orchids are palatable to 
ungulates, and hoof action could contribute to soil compaction that may 
be detrimental to the fungus or the roots of either the Hexalectris or 
the oak trees. Livestock grazing has been demonstrated to reduce seed 
production and detrimentally impact survival of other orchid species 
(Alexander et al. 2010, pp. 47-48). H[aacute]gsater and Dumont (1996, 
p. 17) note that heavy grazing and trampling has been shown to 
eliminate other species of orchids, reduce plant diversity, and lead to 
soil erosion; though they also note that grazing may simulate natural 
disturbance regimes, reduce competition, and promote certain rare 
species.
    In the Whetstone Mountains, French Joe and Dry Canyons that are 
occupied by two colonies of Coleman's coralroot are located in the 
7,111-ha (17,572-ac) Mescal Allotment, which consists of 4,036 ha 
(9,972 ac) capable of supporting grazing. The allotment is permitted 
for 800 cattle, or 4,800 Animal Unit Months (AUM), from November 1 to 
April 30 of each year (USFS 2010, p. 1; Kraft, 2013, pers. comm.). 
Typically, a single herd enters the allotment on November 1, on the 
west side and is moved east as feed and water diminish. Cattle travel 
to French Joe Canyon on the east side of the allotment at the end of 
the grazing season in April.
    In the Peloncillo Mountains, one Coleman's coralroot colony occurs 
in Skeleton Canyon, which overlaps the 1,594-ha (3,939-ac) Fairchild 
Allotment and the 1,882-ha (4,651-ac) Skeleton Allotment which are 
together permitted for 272 cattle (1,496 AUM) from October 1 to March 
15 of each year (Service 2009, pp. 22, 27; USFS 2008, pp. 2, 21). 
Cattle are pushed into upper elevations of the Fairchild Allotment at 
the beginning of the grazing season and allowed to drift down to the 
north as the season progresses. A lack of reliable water and fencing 
makes it difficult to maintain proper distribution, resulting in 
heavier use in lower Skeleton Canyon (USFS 2008, p. 273).
    In the Dragoon Mountains, the West Cochise Stronghold Canyon, which 
is occupied by one colony of Colemen's coralroot, is located within the 
4,700-ha (11,616-ac) Slavin Allotment, which consists of 2,030 ha 
(5,017 ac) capable of supporting grazing. The allotment is permitted 
for 130 cattle (780 AUM) from December 1 to May 31 of each year 
(Service 1999, p. 20).
    In the Santa Rita Mountains, the 3,931-ha (9,714-ac) Rosemont 
Allotment consists of 3,671 ha (9,072 ac) capable of supporting 
grazing. The allotment is permitted for 325 cattle from March 1 to 31, 
for 325 cattle from September 1 to October 31, and for 150 cattle from 
November 1 to February 28 (1,575 AUM) (Service 1999, p. 74).
    In the Chiricahua Mountains, the 7,420-ha (18,336-ac) Tex Canyon 
Allotment consists of 6,713 ha (16,589 ac) capable of supporting 
grazing. The allotment is permitted for 600 cattle from November 1 to 
February 28, and 150 cattle from December 1 to February 28 (3,399 AUM) 
(Service 1999, p. 66).
    As of 2012, the best available information indicates that livestock 
grazing occurs within or near all 19 Coleman's coralroot colonies that 
exist on Coronado NF lands. Whether livestock grazing occurs near the 
three colonies on Tohono O'odham Nation is uncertain, although 
information in our files indicates that no cattle activity occurs in 
the immediate area of reported plants. However, the presence of 
livestock grazing within landscapes where Coleman's coralroot occurs 
potentially makes the species vulnerable to direct grazing, trampling, 
and compaction of soils. When individual plants do bloom, the 
inflorescence (flowering part of plant) emerges in April and flowers 
bloom between early May and mid-June (Coleman 2002, p. 101; Catling 
2004, p. 15; WestLand Resources 2010, p. 3). Livestock grazing in the 
Whetstone and Dragoon Mountains overlaps the emergence season, 
providing the opportunity for cattle to eat or trample individual 
flowering orchids, or compact soils. Because relevant allotments are 
grazed outside the emergence season, cattle have no opportunity to eat 
or trample individual flowering orchids in the Peloncillo, Santa Rita, 
or Chiricahua Mountains. However, the presence of livestock at other 
times does provide the opportunity for cattle to compact soils.
    Although cattle are present on the landscape, two key factors 
likely contribute to minimization of the effects of grazing on 
Coleman's coralroot. First, the Coronado NF has a drought policy that 
directs permittees to work with the Coronado NF when rainfall for the 
water year (beginning October 1) is less than 75 percent of normal by 
March 1 and the long-range forecast is for less than normal 
precipitation. This policy limits livestock presence during drought, 
which in turn lessens the likelihood that Coleman's coralroot would be 
detrimentally impacted by livestock grazing. Second, these allotments 
are relatively large allowing livestock to disperse over a large area, 
and we have no information to indicate that livestock congregate within 
orchid colonies or that they may be attracted to orchid localities.
    Livestock grazing has occurred for at least the past 100 years in 
Coleman's coralroot habitat. Although livestock grazing has been shown 
to affect other species of orchids, Coleman's coralroot persists across 
a number of mountain ranges in Arizona and New Mexico despite the 
presence of livestock. Because Coleman's coralroots primarily occur in 
areas that are not likely to be heavily grazed, such as areas with 
thick cover and limited accessibility under oak and mesquite trees, 
among rock outcrops, and on the edges of rocky cliffs (Coleman 1999, p. 
315; Coleman 2002, p. 101), it is unlikely that

[[Page 76802]]

livestock grazing will substantially impact the orchid. Accordingly, 
based on the best available information, livestock grazing does not 
pose a threat to the Coleman's coralroot continued existence now or in 
the future.
Nonnative Invasive Plant Species
    Invasive plants, specifically exotic annuals, can negatively affect 
native vegetation including rare plants. One of the most substantial 
effects is the change in vegetation fuel properties that, in turn, 
alter fire frequency, intensity, extent, type, and seasonality (Menakis 
et al. 2003, pp. 282-283; Brooks et al. 2004, p. 677; McKenzie et al. 
2004, p. 898) (see Wildfire discussion). Invasive plants can also 
exclude native plants and alter pollinator behaviors (D'Antonio and 
Vitousek 1992, pp. 74-75; DiTomaso 2000, p. 257; Traveset and 
Richardson 2006, pp. 211-213; Cane 2011, pp. 27-28). Furthermore, 
invasive plants can out-compete native species for soil nutrients and 
water (Aguirre and Johnson 1991, pp. 352-353; Brooks 2000, p. 92), as 
well as modify the activity of pollinators by producing different 
nectar from native species (Levine et al. 2003, p. 776) or introducing 
nonnative pollinators (Traveset and Richardson 2006, pp. 208-209), 
leading to disruption of normal pollinator interactions.
    Since its introduction in the 1940s, buffelgrass (Pennisetum 
ciliare) has become widespread in southeastern Arizona (Yetman 1994, 
pp. 1, 8; Van Devender and Reina 2005, p. 161; Cohn 2005, pp. 1-2; 
Stevens and Falk 2009, p. 417). Originally introduced as forage for 
livestock, as erosion control, or as an ornamental, buffelgrass is now 
considered invasive and a threat to native ecosystems (B[uacute]rquez-
Montijo et al. 2002, entire). Researchers generally think that 
buffelgrass will continue to spread in the Sonoran Desert biome into 
the future, reducing native biodiversity through direct competition and 
alteration of nutrient and disturbance regimes (Ward et al. 2006, p. 
724; Franklin and Molina-Freaner 2010, p. 1671). However, buffelgrass 
is usually limited to elevations less than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) because 
it is frost-intolerant (Perramond 2000, p. 5), though it has been 
documented up to 1,265 m (4,150 ft) (Arizona Sonora Desert Museum 2012, 
p. 2). Coleman's coralroot colonies occur at elevations of 1,315 to 
1,826 m (4,315 to 5,990 ft), which is higher than the limit of where 
buffelgrass occurs, suggesting the Coleman's coralroot is not impacted 
by buffelgrass invasion, though climatic warming trends may facilitate 
future invasion of buffelgrass at higher elevations (see Climate Change 
discussion).
    Other nonnative plant species that may impact Coleman's coralroot's 
persistence include Lehman's lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana) and 
rose natal grass (Melinis repens) (Baker 2012a, p. 14). However, 
specific research is lacking on the impacts of exotic species in 
general upon individual Coleman's coralroot and their habitats (Baker 
2012a, p. 14). A review of the best available information does not 
indicate that Lehman's lovegrass or rose natal grass occurs within 
Coleman's coralroot colonies. Also, there is a high level of 
uncertainty regarding interactions between these nonnative invasive 
species and Coleman's coralroot. Therefore, our review of the best 
available information does not indicate that nonnative invasive species 
pose a threat to the continued existence of Coleman's coralroot now or 
in the future.
Wildfire
    Fire frequency and intensity in southwestern forests are altered 
from historical conditions (Dahms and Geils 1997, p. 34; Danzer et al. 
1997, pp. 1-2). Before the late 1800s, surface fires generally occurred 
at least once per decade in montane forests (Swetnam and Baisan 1996, 
p. 15). During the early 1900s, frequent widespread ground fires ceased 
to occur due to intensive livestock grazing that removed fine fuels, 
such as grasses. Coupled with fire suppression, changes in fuel load 
began to alter forest structure and natural fire regime (Dahms and 
Geils 1997, p. 34). An absence of low-intensity ground fires allowed a 
buildup of woody fuels that resulted in infrequent, but very hot, 
stand-replacing fires (fires that kill all or most of above-ground 
parts of dominant vegetation) (Dahm and Geils 1997, p. 34; Danzer et 
al. 1997, p. 9). Additionally, when nonnative buffelgrass invades an 
area, the natural fire regime can change from infrequent, low-
intensity, localized fires, to frequent, high-intensity, spreading 
fires because of the increased grassy fuel load (Van Devender and Reina 
2005, p. 161; Stevens and Falk 2009, p. 418; Yetman 1994, pp. 8-9). 
Also, the introduced Lehmans lovegrass can form dense stands, 
increasing fine fuels and fire danger where it occurs (Anable et al. 
1992, pp. 186-187), which could lead to increased fire hazard in nearby 
oak woodlands.
    Information in our files indicates wildfires of varying intensity 
in the past few years have occurred upslope of Coleman's coralroot 
plants on Tohono O'odham Nation. These wildfires may have resulted in 
increased runoff from burned areas, which may cause soil erosion that 
could wash away Coleman's coralroot plants or bury them under sediment. 
However, the available information does not provide specific evidence 
that wildfire has directly affected any cluster or colony of Coleman's 
coralroot. Additionally, there has been no scientific study of the 
impacts of fire on the species (Baker 2012a, p. 13). We can speculate 
that native plants that have evolved with low-intensity, high-frequency 
wildfire may suffer decreased viability when exposed to a fire regime 
that is now dominated by high-intensity wildfire. Hot temperatures may 
be too extreme for living plants, existing seedbank, and the pollinator 
species; and a hot wildfire occurring during the flowering season could 
potentially kill individual orchids that are flowering, or kill oak 
trees that are host to the fungal symbiont.
    Conversely, Coleman's coralroot life-history traits may provide for 
the continued survival of the species under these conditions. Perhaps 
the subterranean rhizome is protected from surface fire, allowing the 
species to survive and resprout after fire. As discussed above, 
buffelgrass and Coleman's coralroot currently occur at different 
elevations, reducing the potential for the species to be affected by 
fire regimes altered by buffelgrass. Also, the distribution of other 
invasive species within or near Coleman's coralroot colonies is 
uncertain. Additionally, oak woodlands can recover after hot fires as 
affected trees often resprout and grow vigorously, though it may take a 
few decades to return to former conditions (Baker 2012a, p. 16).
    Overall, researchers have a high level of uncertainty regarding the 
effects of wildfire on Coleman's coralroot, and we have no site-
specific information regarding the occurrence of wildfire within or 
near sites occupied by Coleman's coralroot. Therefore, our review of 
the best available information does not indicate that wildfire poses a 
threat to the Coleman's coralroot now or in the future.
Drought and Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Act include consideration of ongoing and 
projected changes in climate. The terms climate and climate change are 
defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 
Climate refers to the mean and variability of different types of 
weather conditions over time, with 30 years being a typical period for 
such measurements, although shorter or longer periods also may be used 
(IPCC

[[Page 76803]]

2007, p. 78). Thus, the term climate change refers to a change in the 
mean or variability of one or more measures of climate (e.g., 
temperature or precipitation) that persists for an extended period, 
typically decades or longer, whether the change is due to natural 
variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 2007, p. 78). Various types 
of changes in climate can have direct or indirect effects on species. 
These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative, and they may 
change over time, depending on the species and other relevant 
considerations, such as the effects of interactions of climate with 
other variables (e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007, pp. 8-14, 18-
19). In our analyses, we use our expert judgment to weigh relevant 
information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of various 
aspects of climate change.
    Climate change will be particularly challenging for biodiversity 
because the interaction of additional stressors associated with climate 
change and current stressors may push species beyond their ability to 
survive (Lovejoy 2005, pp. 325-326). The synergistic implications of 
climate change and habitat fragmentation are the most threatening facet 
of climate change for biodiversity (Hannah et al. 2005, p. 4). Current 
climate change predictions for terrestrial areas in the Northern 
Hemisphere indicate warmer air temperatures, more intense precipitation 
events, and increased summer continental drying (Field et al. 1999, pp. 
1-3; Hayhoe et al. 2004, p. 12422; Cayan et al. 2005, p. 6; Seager et 
al. 2007, p. 1181). Climate change may lead to increased frequency and 
duration of severe storms and droughts (Cook et al. 2004, p. 1,015; 
Golladay et al. 2004, p. 504; McLaughlin et al. 2002, pp. 6,072-6,074).
    The current prognosis for climate change in the American Southwest 
includes fewer frost days; warmer temperatures; greater water demand by 
plants, animals, and people; and an increased frequency of extreme 
weather events (Weiss and Overpeck 2005, p. 2,074; Archer and Predick 
2008, p. 24). Some models predict dramatic changes in southwestern 
vegetation communities (Weiss and Overpeck 2005, p. 2,074; Archer and 
Predick 2008, p. 24), especially as wildfires carried by nonnative 
plants (e.g., buffelgrass) potentially become more frequent, promoting 
the presence of invasive, exotic species over native ones (Weiss and 
Overpeck 2005, p. 2,075).
    Climate change models predict that the southwestern United States 
will become drier in the twenty-first century and that the trend is 
already under way (Seager et al. 2007, pp. 1,181-1,184; Schwinning et 
al. 2008, p. 14-15). The current, multiyear drought in the southwestern 
United States is the most severe drought recorded since 1900 (Overpeck 
and Udall 2010, p. 1,642). Winter rainfall in southern Arizona has been 
declining steadily for the last 34 years, and most noticeably 1998 to 
the present (McPhee et al. 2004, p. 2). Projections predict annual 
precipitation in the Southwest will continue to decrease (Christensen 
et al. 2007, p. 888; Solomon et al. 2009, p. 1,707). Additionally, 
maximum summer temperatures in the Southwest are expected to increase 
over time (Christensen et al. 2007, p. 887). Weiss and Overpeck (2005, 
p. 2,075) examined low-temperature data over a 40-year timeframe from 
numerous weather stations in the Sonoran desert ecoregion and found: 
(1) Widespread warming trends in winter and spring, (2) decreased 
frequency of freezing temperatures, (3) lengthening of the freeze-free 
season, and (4) increased minimum temperatures per winter year. The 
current trend in the Southwest of less frequent, but more intense, 
precipitation events leading to overall drier conditions is predicted 
to continue (Karl et al. 2009, p. 24). The levels of aridity of recent 
drought conditions, and perhaps those of the 1950s drought years, will 
become the new climatology for the southwestern United States (Seager 
et al. 2007, p. 1,181). Additionally, the timing of precipitation may 
be altered. Projected patterns of precipitation changes predict that 
winter precipitation in the Southwest may decline 10 to 20 percent, for 
the period 2090-2099 relative to 1980-1999, as a result of climate 
change (IPCC 2007, p. 20).
    Arid environments can be especially sensitive to climate change 
because the biota that inhabit these areas are often near their 
physiological tolerances for temperature and water stress. Slight 
changes in temperature and rainfall, along with increases in the 
magnitude and frequency of extreme climatic events, can significantly 
alter species distributions and abundance (Archer and Predick 2008, p. 
23). Nonnative plant species may respond positively, out-competing 
native vegetation (Smith et al. 2000, p. 79; Lioubimsteva and Adams 
2004, p. 401), thereby increasing the risk of wildfire. Seasonal 
changes in rainfall may contribute to the spread of invasive species, 
which are often capable of explosive growth, and able to out-compete 
native species (Barrows et al. 2009, p. 673).
    As discussed above, flowering patterns are highly correlated with 
October to March rainfall totals, with higher numbers of flowering 
plants observed during years with more winter rainfall. A 10 to 20 
percent decline in winter rainfall by the end of this century may have 
rangewide repercussions on flowering by Coleman's coralroot, though the 
magnitude of effect is uncertain. The irregular flowering patterns of 
Coleman's coralroot could already be indicative of effects from 
drought. For instance, in a study of the terrestrial orchid 
Dactylorhiza majalis, Pavel and Zuzana (1999, pp. 272-273) suggest that 
if both climatic and habitat conditions are good, irregular flowering 
regimes in orchids should not occur, and such patterns may be 
characteristic of sites with declining populations. On the other hand, 
flowering in Hexalectris, and Coleman's coralroot in particular, is 
known to be very erratic (Hill 2007, p. 16; Coleman 2013, p. 16), and 
may be an adaptation to cope with the extreme climatic conditions of 
arid environments.
    It is difficult to determine how Coleman's coralroot colonies will 
fare with current and future drought conditions. The long-term trend 
for these colonies is unpredictable, and the inconsistent nature of 
historical count data makes it hard to assess trends (e.g., variation 
from year to year, unknown relationship to number of rhizomes, and lack 
of standardized data collection methodology). Despite past and ongoing 
drought conditions, the species continues to persist. While winter 
precipitation appears to be correlated with flowering, which influences 
seed production and germination, the effects of long-term drought on 
these life-history traits are uncertain. Currently, the extent of the 
cumulative effects of drought are undocumented, and we have no 
information to indicate if they independently or collectively have led 
to, or will lead to, the loss of Coleman's coralroot colonies.
    It is also possible the Coleman's coralroot is adapted to arid 
conditions. Plants growing in high-stress landscapes are often adapted 
to stress, and drought-adapted species may experience lower mortality 
during severe droughts (Gitlin et al. 2006, pp. 1,477 and 1,484). The 
ability of Coleman's coralroot to remain dormant during dry periods, 
and regrow when rainfall is abundant, may be an adaptation for coping 
with aridity. This ability to remain dormant during dry periods may 
have been important in the Coleman's coralroot survival of the large-
scale drought in the 1950s. However, we note that drought was 11 years 
and followed by a period of higher

[[Page 76804]]

annual precipitation (Allen and Breschears 1998, p. 14,841; Fye et al. 
2003, p. 907), and the current drought may not be comparable.
    In summary, the best available information indicates a continuation 
of current drying trends, but it does not indicate that the rangewide 
status of Coleman's coralroot will be negatively affected. In fact, 
some information indicates that Coleman's coralroot is adapted to arid 
environmental conditions. Therefore, the best available information 
does not indicate that drought and climate change pose a threat to the 
Coleman's coralroot at a species-level across the range now or within 
the future.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Habitat Destruction, Modification, or 
Curtailment of Its Range
    We have no information regarding conservation efforts that are 
nonregulatory, such as habitat conservation plans, safe harbor 
agreements, habitat management plans, memorandums of understanding, or 
other voluntary actions that may be helping to ameliorate stressors to 
the species' habitat, but are not legally required.
Summary of Factor A
    After assessing the best available science on the magnitude and 
extent of the effects of mining, livestock grazing, nonnative invasive 
plants species, wildfire, drought, and climate change, we find that the 
destruction, modification, and curtailment of Coleman's coralroot's 
habitat or range is not a threat to the species. Mining operations may 
affect a small percentage of the Coleman's coralroot habitat. Effects 
of livestock grazing, nonnative species, wildfire, and drought have not 
resulted in measurable population declines. However, a review of the 
limited available information does not indicate that these stressors 
alone or in combination rise to the level of effects that they would be 
considered a threat to the Coleman's coralroot.

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

    Coleman's coralroot has been subject to minimal collection related 
to documentation of occurrence (i.e., voucher specimens) and scientific 
inquiry. Voucher specimens were collected from Baboquivari Canyon by 
Toolin in 1981 and from McCleary Canyon by McLaughlin in 1986 (Coleman 
2000, p. 138; 2001, p. 96). Specimens were collected from Sawmill 
Canyon in 2003 and McCleary Canyon in 2005 for phylogenetic analysis 
(Baker 2012a, p. vi; Kennedy and Watson 2010, pp. 64-65; WestLand 
Resources 2010, pp. iv-v, 1-2). More recently, voucher specimens were 
collected from Cottonwood Creek and Miller Spring by Baker (2012a, p. 
vi). WestLand Resources (2012c, p. 5) also reports a collection from 
West Cochise Stronghold. These collections represent a small number of 
individuals, and there is no indication that large numbers of Coleman's 
coralroot have been collected for scientific purposes. In fact, Coleman 
(2010, p. 2), the principal authority on the species, reports that he 
refrained from collecting the species during his years of survey 
effort.
    Removal of unsustainable levels of plants from wild populations for 
commercial trade is a major cause for the decline of many showy orchids 
(H[aacute]gsater and Dumont 1996, p. 9). Although many species of 
orchids are highly sought by collectors, we are not aware of any 
significant utilization of Coleman's coralroot for commercial or 
recreational purposes (i.e., reports or observations of collection or 
removal from the wild). Coleman's coralroot localities are relatively 
remote and access is challenging, minimizing potential collection by 
novices. Furthermore, collection for propagation seems unlikely because 
the conditions necessary for growth and survival appear to be very 
difficult to recreate in an artificial environment (i.e., successfully 
growing the fungus).
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Overutilization for Commercial, 
Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes
    We have no information regarding conservation efforts that are 
nonregulatory, such as habitat conservation plans, safe harbor 
agreements, habitat management plans, memorandums of understanding, or 
other voluntary actions, that may be helping to ameliorate stressors 
due to overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes.
Summary of Factor B
    Based on the best available information, the Coleman's coralroot 
has been subject to minimal collection. We have no indication that 
collection is affecting the species now or will do so in the future. 
Therefore, we conclude that overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes, does not pose a 
threat to the Coleman's coralroot.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

    Orchids like the Coleman's coralroot are susceptible to herbivory 
by native browsers, such as insects, small mammals, or deer. Hill 
(2007, p. 19) identified herbivory by deer as a potential threat to 
Hexalectris orchids, while Baker (2012a, p. 13) offered that Coleman's 
coralroot may be vulnerable to predation or grazing by rodents, feral 
pigs, rabbits, and deer. Since 1996, evidence of herbivory of Coleman's 
coralroot has been observed (Coleman 2013, p. 16), including a report 
of a single plant damaged by insects from McCleary Canyon in 1996 
(Coleman 1999, p. 314) and the reporting that spikes may be eaten 
(Coleman 2002, p. 101). With the dramatic increase in survey effort 
from 2010 to 2013, the incidence of observed herbivory also increased. 
For instance, in 2010 researchers found that 30 percent of spikes in 
West Cochise Stronghold Canyon were browsed by deer (WestLand Resources 
2010, p. 12). From the Santa Rita Mountains, WestLand Resources (2012b, 
pp. 8, 53-54) reported one Coleman's coralroot inflorescence that 
showed signs of herbivory in McCleary Canyon, at least one 
inflorescence of H. arizonica that showed insect damage in Agua 
Caliente Canyon, and one H. arizonica inflorescence sheared off at the 
base due to small rodent or insect herbivory in Dutch John Canyon. 
WestLand Resources (2012b, pp. 5, 53) also reported four Hexalectris 
spp. in Jordan Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains that appeared to be 
clipped from insect herbivory. Baker (2012b, p. 1) also reported an 
individual Coleman's coralroot from the Peloncillo Mountains eaten at 
the base of the stalk.
    In 2012, Coleman (2013, p. 16) marked and tracked eight Coleman's 
coralroot plants in Sawmill Canyon, in an effort to quantify the 
effects of herbivory. A site visit later that same year revealed four 
plants had been destroyed by digging, likely from a small rodent 
(Coleman 2013, p. 16). In 2013, all marked plants had either been dug 
by a small rodent, or had been eaten down below the lowest flower by 
either a rabbit or deer (Coleman 2013, p. 17). Coleman (2013, p. 18) 
expressed concern that herbivory may preclude large numbers of plants 
from developing and setting capsules. Because the species appears to 
set capsules infrequently, herbivory could affect seed development and 
dispersal. Coleman (2013, p. 18) concludes that additional work is 
needed to identify the herbivores and to determine what

[[Page 76805]]

proportion of plants that emerge in any given year are lost to 
herbivory.
    As a matter of their life history, wild plants are susceptible to 
predation or herbivory. Although it has been demonstrated that 
Coleman's coralroot are subject to herbivory, the available information 
does not indicate that herbivory is occurring at levels different from 
historical conditions or if the species is experiencing population-
level declines or a loss of colony viability as a result of herbivory. 
The most significant incident was the documentation of herbivory on 30 
percent of spikes in West Cochise Stronghold Canyon in 2010 by WestLand 
Resources (2010, p. 12). In 2010, 140 inflorescences were counted in 
West Cochise Stronghold that year, the most counted in a single colony. 
However, we have no information indicating that herbivory affected 
capsule formation for the remaining orchids in West Cochise Stronghold, 
and we cannot determine if herbivory has affected the viability of the 
colony. Our review of the best available information does not indicate 
that herbivory, and resulting loss of individual plants, poses a threat 
to the Coleman's coralroot now or in the future.
    We have no information regarding specific diseases affecting 
Coleman's coralroot, though oak trees can be vulnerable to several 
wood-rotting fungi. Oak wilt and oak leaf scorch can be a cause for 
concern, but the available information does not indicate that either 
occurs in Arizona (Olsen 2013, pers. comm.). Also, the pathogen Nosema 
bombi may be responsible for a decline in certain members of bumblebees 
in the genus Bombus across the United States. However, several species 
remain abundant, and it is unlikely that affected species have become 
fully extirpated (Cameron et al. 2010, p. 4). What this means for 
Coleman's coralroot is difficult to interpret because the specific 
pollinator has not been identified.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation
    We have no information regarding conservation efforts that are 
nonregulatory, such as habitat conservation plans, safe harbor 
agreements, habitat management plans, memorandums of understanding, or 
other voluntary actions, that may be helping to ameliorate stressors 
due to disease or predation.
Summary of Factor C
    Overall, researchers have uncertainty regarding the effects that 
disease and predation have on Coleman's coralroot at the population and 
species levels. Accordingly, our review of the best available 
information does not indicate that disease or predation poses a threat 
to the Coleman's coralroot now or will do so in the future.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate to address or alleviate 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, plans, 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. Having 
evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any such 
conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to which 
existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the specific 
threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, may 
reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified threats. In 
this section, we review existing Federal and State regulatory 
mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or remove 
threats to Coleman's coralroot.
Federal Regulations
    Nineteen of 22 known Coleman's coralroot colonies occur on lands 
managed by the USFS as part of the Coronado NF. Although the Coleman's 
coralroot is not covered under the Coronado NF's Land and Resource 
Management Plan at this time, it does receive indirect benefits from 
management strategies outlined in the plan. For instance, the Coronado 
NF's Land and Resource Management Plan has guidance to protect riparian 
areas, maintain or restore fire-adapted ecosystems through thinning or 
prescribed burning, and provide for invasive species management. Any of 
these management strategies would provide some ancillary benefit to the 
Coleman's coralroot. On the other hand, the species may be affected by 
program management activities like grazing, recreation, mining, 
invasive species management, and fire management. The Coronado NF's 
Land and Resource Management Plan is designed to minimize impacts to 
sensitive species from management activities, but actual ground-level 
conservation would be implemented during project-specific planning and 
implementation.
    Also, numerous Federal statutes apply on these lands. Because we 
have identified the construction of the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine 
as potentially affecting four colonies, two statutes of particular 
interest are the Mining Law of 1872 (30 U.S.C. 21 et seq.) and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) 
(NEPA). The Mining Law was enacted to promote exploration and 
development of domestic mineral resources, as well as the settlement of 
the western United States. In addition, the USFS considers the effects 
of their actions on the viability of sensitive species through the NEPA 
process. As defined by USFS's own policy, actions should not result in 
loss of species viability or create significant trends toward the need 
for Federal listing. Coleman's coralroot is currently a USFS sensitive 
species and is being considered in the planning process for the 
Rosemont Copper Mine. At this state in the planning process, we are 
unaware of mitigating actions, if any, the USFS may require for 
Coleman's coralroot as part of the NEPA process. If the mining project 
proceeds as planned, two colonies in upper McCleary and Wasp Canyons 
will be lost to the construction and operation. However, other sites 
throughout the species' range do not appear to be facing mining or 
other threats now or in the future to which current Federal regulations 
would apply. Although Federal regulations will not protect the portion 
of the species' range in upper McCleary and Wasp Canyons from the 
detrimental effects of hard rock mining, we do not find existing 
regulatory mechanisms to be inadequate across the entire range of the 
species.
Tribal Regulations
    We have no information regarding specific Tribal regulations 
designed to protect Coleman's coralroot. In October of 2009, the Tohono 
O'odham Nation issued a resolution opposing the Rosemont Copper Mine. 
However, the Tohono O'odham Nation has no regulatory authority to 
manage the effects from this mine, because it does

[[Page 76806]]

not occur on their land. Although we are unaware of any Tribal 
regulations that would provide protection to the Coleman's coralroot, 
there are no threats on Tribal lands to which regulations would apply.
State Regulations
    No State laws specifically protect Coleman's coralroot habitat on 
State or private lands in Arizona. Also, the species is currently not 
on the list of native plants protected from collection by the Arizona 
Native Plant Act (Arizona Department of Agriculture 2013, entire). 
Although State of Arizona regulations provide no protection to the 
species, we do not find them to be inadequate because no threats exist 
to which State regulations would apply.
Summary of Factor D
    Based on our review of the best available information, we do not 
believe that there are inadequate regulatory mechanisms posing a threat 
to the Coleman's coralroot now or will do so in the future.

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

    We have evaluated the best available scientific information, and we 
did not find any information indicating that recreation, activities 
associated with illegal immigration, development, or any other natural 
or manmade factors are threats to the Coleman's coralroot. We found no 
indication that Coleman's coralroot are trampled, crushed, or destroyed 
by off-road vehicles, illegal immigrants, Border Patrol operations, or 
housing construction. Additionally, the Coleman's coralroot colonies 
may be somewhat protected from these activities because of the rugged 
terrain (e.g., steep slopes, thick brush, rock outcrops, the edges of 
rocky cliffs) in which they occur. Information in our files indicates 
signs of illegal immigration near Coleman's coralroot colonies on 
Tohono O'odham Nation, but we have no information indicating that 
individual orchids have been destroyed or that the viability of any 
colony has been compromised.
    We also considered whether small population size and overall rarity 
of Coleman's coralroot were threats. We recognize that Coleman's 
coralroot may be rare as indicated by the relatively small number of 
canyons where the species has been found compared to the large number 
of canyons that have been searched. But we did not find any indication 
that the rarity of the species, acting in concert with other stressors, 
is a threat to the species.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Other Natural or Manmade Factors 
Affecting Its Continued Existence
    We have no information regarding conservation efforts that are 
nonregulatory, such as habitat conservation plans, safe harbor 
agreements, habitat management plans, memorandums of understanding, or 
other voluntary actions, that may be helping to ameliorate stressors 
due to other natural or manmade factors affecting the Coleman's 
coralroot's continued existence.
Summary of Factor E
    Based on the best available information, we have determined that 
other natural or manmade factors do not pose a threat to the Coleman's 
coralroot now or in the future.

Finding

    As required by the Act, we conducted a review of the status of the 
species and considered the five factors in assessing whether the 
Coleman's coralroot is an endangered or threatened species throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range. We examined the best 
scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, 
present, and future threats faced by the species. We reviewed the 
petition, information available in our files, and other available 
published and unpublished information, and we consulted with 
appropriate experts and other Federal and local agencies. In 
considering which 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 the species has exposure to a factor, but no response, 
or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If the 
species has exposure and 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 situation 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 
threatened or endangered under the Act.
    Under the five-factor analysis above, we identified several 
potential stressors that will likely cause declines, such as mining 
operations, livestock grazing, wildfire, drought, and herbivory. 
However, we have no information to indicate that these stressors alone 
or in combination rise to the level of effects that they would be 
considered a threat to the species' continued existence. Based on 
anticipated mining operations, we expect that 2 of the 22 confirmed 
Coleman's coralroot colonies will be extirpated due to mining 
operations and that 3 additional colonies may be negatively impacted 
but not lost. The Coleman's coralroot is known to occur across seven 
mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. 
Because the species is fairly wide ranging, we do not believe that 
mining operations, livestock grazing, wildfire, drought, and herbivory 
operate in a manner that results in cumulative synergistic negative 
effects at the species level. The best available information does not 
indicate that the remaining colonies are subject to operative threats 
or that the impacts from any of the stressors are contributing to the 
risk of extinction such that the species warrants listing as an 
endangered or threatened species. Therefore, based on our review of the 
best available scientific and commercial information pertaining to the 
five factors, we find that the stressors are not operating at a level 
that is resulting in a species-level impact to indicate that Coleman's 
coralroot is in danger of extinction (endangered), or likely to become 
endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened), throughout all 
of its range.
Significant Portion of the Range
    Having determined that Coleman's coralroot does not meet the 
definition of a threatened or endangered species, we must next consider 
whether there are any significant portions of the range where the 
Coleman's coralroot is in danger of extinction or is likely to become 
endangered in the foreseeable future. A portion of a species' range is 
significant if it is part of the current range of the species and it 
contributes substantially to the representation, resiliency, or 
redundancy of the species. The contribution must be at a level such 
that its loss would result in a decrease in the ability to conserve the 
species.
    In determining whether a species is threatened or endangered in a 
significant portion of its range, we first identify any portions of the 
range of the species that warrant further

[[Page 76807]]

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) threatened or endangered. To identify only 
those portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether 
substantial information indicates 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 threatened or endangered 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 threatened or endangered there. Likewise, if the Service 
considers status first and determines that the species is not 
threatened or endangered 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 threatened or endangered there, the Service will 
specify that portion of the range as threatened or endangered under 
section 4(c)(1) of the Act.
    In our analysis for this listing determination, we determined that 
the Coleman's coralroot does not meet the definition of an endangered 
or threatened species throughout its entire range. We found that there 
are geographically concentrated stressors. The effects from the 
proposed Rosemont Copper Mine (located on the east side of the Santa 
Rita Mountains) and Hermosa Drilling Project (located in the Patagonia 
Mountains) will be limited to 5 of 22 confirmed extant colonies of 
Coleman's coralroot, including 4 colonies located in McCleary and Wasp 
Canyons in the Santa Rita Mountains, and 1 located in Hermosa Canyon in 
the Patagonia Mountains. Two of these colonies are expected to be 
extirpated. Even if these 2 colonies are extirpated, the Coleman's 
coralroot will continue to remain in 20 other colonies across 7 
mountain ranges. There is enough redundancy in the remaining 
populations spread over a wide geographic area that the species will 
continue to persist.
    Furthermore, determining the effect of the potential loss of these 
individual plants on the rangewide status of the species is challenging 
because of the lack of information on population ecology and 
demographics. For instance, we have no information regarding the degree 
to which these populations exchange genetic material, if these two 
colonies represent a unique genetic diversity, or the degree to which 
they may behave as subpopulations within a metapopulation. There is no 
information regarding how the number of aboveground flowering plants 
correlates with the total number of orchids, including those living 
underground as a rhizome or tuber. Thus, it is very difficult to 
determine how resilient the species is to withstanding demographic and 
environmental variation. These information gaps and uncertainties make 
it difficult to extrapolate population sizes, to evaluate trends, or to 
make meaningful comparisons within and across years. Based on the best 
available information, we have no evidence to indicate that the two 
colonies we expect to be extirpated are a significant portion of the 
current range of the species or that they contribute substantially to 
the representation, resiliency, or redundancy of the species. 
Therefore, we have no information to indicate that the contribution of 
five colonies that will be impacted from mining are at a level such 
that their loss would result in a decrease in the ability to conserve 
the species.
    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information indicates that the Coleman's coralroot is not in danger of 
extinction now (endangered) nor likely to become endangered within the 
foreseeable future (threatened) throughout all or a significant portion 
of its range. Although we expect two colonies (upper McCleary and Wasp 
Canyons) to be severely compromised or lost, and three other colonies 
(lower and middle McCleary, and Hermosa Canyons) to be detrimentally 
affected, we have no information to indicate that these losses would 
have a negative impact on the overall species across its entire range. 
Accordingly, we do not find that threats to the portion of the species' 
range in McCleary, Wasp, and Hermosa Canyons would likely place the 
species in danger of extinction throughout its entire range. Because 
the portion of the Coleman's coralroot colonies in these canyons due to 
mining is not significant enough that their potential loss would render 
the species in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future, 
we conclude that these colonies do not constitute a significant portion 
of the species' range. Therefore, we find that listing the Coleman's 
coralroot as an endangered or threatened species under the Act is not 
warranted at this time.
    We request that any new information concerning the status of, or 
threats to, Coleman's coralroot be submitted to our Arizona Ecological 
Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section) whenever it becomes 
available. New information will help us monitor the species and 
encourage its conservation. If an emergency situation develops for 
Coleman's coralroot, or any other species, we will act to provide 
immediate protection.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Arizona Ecological 
Services Office (see ADDRESSES section).

Author(s)

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

Authority

    The authority for this finding is section 4 of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

     Dated: December 2, 2013.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-29967 Filed 12-18-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P