[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 67 (Tuesday, April 8, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 19314-19315]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-07409]



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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072 and FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY10; RIN 1018-AZ70


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Status 
for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse 
With Special Rule and Designation of Critical Habitat

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rules; reopening of the comment periods.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
reopening of the public comment period on our October 28, 2013, 
proposed rule to list the Bi-State distinct population segment (DPS) of 
greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as threatened under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, with a special rule. We are 
also reopening the public comment period on our October 28, 2013, 
proposed rule to designate critical habitat for this DPS. We are also 
announcing the location and time of public hearings to receive public 
comments on the proposals. Finally, we announce a 6-month extension of 
the final determination of whether or not to list the Bi-State DPS as a 
threatened species. We are taking this action based on substantial 
disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available 
data relevant to the proposed listing, making it necessary to solicit 
additional information by reopening the comment period for 60 days. We 
will publish a listing determination on or before April 28, 2015.

DATES: The comment periods for the proposed rules published in the 
Federal Register on October 28, 2013 (78 FR 64328; 78 FR 64358) are 
reopened. We will consider comments received or postmarked on or before 
June 9, 2014. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section) must be received by 11:59 
p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.
    Public Hearing: We will hold two public hearings on these proposed 
rules in Minden, Nevada on April 29, 2014 from 6 to 9 p.m. (Pacific 
Time), and Bishop, California, on April 30, 2014, from 6 to 9 p.m. 
(Pacific Time) (see ADDRESSES).

ADDRESSES:
    Document availability: You may obtain copies of the proposed rules 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-
2013-0072 (proposed listing with special rule) and Docket No. FWS-R8-
ES-2013-0042 (proposed critical habitat), or contact the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office or Ventura Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Written comments: You may submit written comments by one of the 
following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072 
(proposed listing) or FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042 (proposed critical habitat), 
which are the docket numbers for these rulemakings. Then, in the Search 
panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, 
click on the Proposed Rules link to locate the document. You may submit 
a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy for the proposed listing: Submit by U.S. mail or 
hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-
0072; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 
22203. By hard copy for the proposed critical habitat: Submit by U.S. 
mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-
2013-0042; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 
22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Information Requested section for more information).
    Public hearing: The April 30, 2014, public hearing will be held at 
the Tri-County Fairgrounds, Home Economics Building, Sierra Street and 
Fair Drive, Bishop, CA 93514. The April 29, 2014, public hearing will 
be held at Carson Valley Inn, Valley Ballroom, 1627 U.S. Highway 395 
North, Minden, Nevada 89423. People needing reasonable accommodations 
in order to attend and participate in the public hearing should contact 
Edward D. Koch, State Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, as 
soon as possible (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the proposed 
listing rule, proposed special rule, and proposed critical habitat 
designation, contact Edward D. Koch, State Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial 
Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, NV 89502; telephone 775-861-6300; or 
facsimile 775-861-6301. Persons who use a telecommunications device for 
the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On October 28, 2013, we published a proposed rule to list the Bi-
State DPS of greater sage-grouse in California and Nevada as a 
threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act) (78 FR 64358), with a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act. 
We concurrently published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat 
(78 FR 64328). For a description of previous Federal actions concerning 
the Bi-State DPS, please refer to the October 28, 2013, proposed rules. 
Both proposed rules opened a 60-day comment period scheduled to end 
December 27, 2013; however, we received requests to extend the public 
comment periods on the proposed rules. In response to those requests, 
we announced on December 20, 2013, an extension of the comment periods 
for an additional 45 days (78 FR 77087) to February 10, 2014, to allow 
additional comment.
    Section 4(b)(6) of the Act requires that we take one of three 
actions within 1 year of a proposed listing: (1) Finalize the proposed 
listing; (2) withdraw the proposed listing; or (3) extend the final 
determination by not more than 6 months, if there is substantial 
disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available 
data relevant to the determination.
    Since the publication of the proposed rules, there has been 
substantial disagreement regarding the interpretation of the best 
available information related to Bi-State DPS population trends and 
threats (e.g., from livestock grazing); the consideration given to 
completed, ongoing, and planned conservation actions; application of 
the 4(d) special rule; and data layers used for mapping proposed 
critical habitat. Differing interpretations of the existing population 
data, in addition to new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) population 
information, have led to a significant disagreement regarding the 
current status of the species. In particular, some commenters and peer 
reviewers raised questions regarding the interpretation of scientific

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information used in the proposed listing rule and scientific literature 
that was not yet available for use in our analysis. For example, since 
publication of our proposed listing rule, the USGS has developed an 
integrated population model that is generating new information valuable 
for our listing determination. Some commenters stated that our science 
was flawed and that there are more sage-grouse in the Bi-State area 
today as opposed to the past, whereas other commenters (including peer 
reviewers) believe there is a declining trend and continuing threats. 
It is evident in the comment letters received that analysis or 
interpretation of data vary between state, agency, public, and peer 
reviewers.
    As a result of these comments and peer reviews, there is 
substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the 
available data relevant to our listing determination. Therefore, in 
consideration of these disagreements, we have determined that a 6-month 
extension of the final determination of this rulemaking is necessary, 
and we are hereby extending the final determination for 6 months in 
order to solicit information that will help to clarify these issues and 
fully analyze this information. As noted in the proposed listing rule 
(78 FR 64358), we were previously required by statutory deadline to 
make a final decision on the Bi-State DPS listing no later than October 
28, 2014. Therefore, with this 6-month extension, we will make a final 
determination on the proposed rule no later than April 28, 2015. In 
conjunction with the proposed rule to list the Bi-State DPS, we also 
proposed a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act that would tailor 
the prohibitions of the Act to specifically address the threats to the 
DPS (78 FR 64358). Because this special rule is contingent on the Bi-
State DPS listing, our final decision for this special rule will also 
be delayed until we make a final listing determination for the DPS. 
Similarly, because critical habitat designation is contingent on the 
Bi-State DPS listing, our final decision for the proposed critical 
habitat will also be delayed until we make a final listing 
determination for the DPS.

Information Requested

    We will accept written comments and information during this 
reopened comment period on our proposed listing (and special 4(d) rule) 
and designation of critical habitat for the Bi-State DPS that published 
in the Federal Register on October 28, 2013 (78 FR 64328; 78 FR 64358). 
We will consider information and recommendations from all interested 
parties. We intend that any final action resulting from the proposal be 
as accurate as possible and based on the best available scientific and 
commercial data.
    We are particularly interested in new information and comments 
regarding:
    (1) Whether there is scientific information in addition to that 
considered in our proposed rules that may be useful in our analysis.
    (2) New information on or analysis of population trends in the Bi-
State area, including data specific to population vital rates.
    (3) The scope of the proposed 4(d) rule.
    (4) Rangeland conditions and the effects of livestock grazing 
within the Bi-State area.
    (5) Data specific to document the need for addition or removal of 
areas identified as proposed critical habitat.
    (6) Spatial data depicting meadow/brood-rearing habitat extent and 
condition.
    (7) Data specific to recreational use in the Bi-State area and 
potential adverse or beneficial effects caused by such use.
    If you submitted comments or information on the proposed rules (78 
FR 64328; 78 FR 64358) during the initial comment period from October 
28, 2013, to February 10, 2014, please do not resubmit them. We have 
incorporated them into the public record, and we will fully consider 
them in the preparation of our final determinations. Our final 
determinations concerning the listing, special rule, and critical 
habitat will take into consideration all written comments and any 
additional information we receive.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed 
rules by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you 
send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES.
    If you submit a comment via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire 
comment--including any personal identifying information--will be posted 
on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment that 
includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top 
of your document that we withhold this information from public review. 
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing the proposed listing, special rule, 
and proposed critical habitat will be available for public inspection 
on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072 and 
Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042, or by appointment, during normal 
business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). You may obtain 
copies of the proposed rules on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2013-0072 and Docket No. 
FWS-R8-ES-2013-0042, or at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authority

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

    Dated: March 25, 2014.
Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-07409 Filed 4-7-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P