[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 142 (Thursday, July 24, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 43131-43161]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-17205]



[[Page 43131]]

Vol. 79

Thursday,

No. 142

July 24, 2014

Part II





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species 
Status for the Zuni Bluehead Sucker; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 79 , No. 142 / Thursday, July 24, 2014 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 43132]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2012-0101; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-AY25


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species 
Status for the Zuni Bluehead Sucker

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
AGENCY: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
endangered species status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(Act), as amended, for the Zuni bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus 
yarrowi), a fish species from Arizona and New Mexico. The effect of 
this regulation will be to add this species to the List of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife.

DATES: This rule becomes effective August 25, 2014.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and on the New Mexico Ecological Service Field 
Office Web site at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/newmexico. Comments 
and materials we received, as well as supporting documentation we used 
in preparing this rule, are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov. All of the comments, materials, and documentation 
that we considered in this rulemaking are available by appointment, 
during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New 
Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna NE., Albuquerque, 
NM 87113; telephone 505-346-2525; facsimile 505-346-2542.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wally ``J'' Murphy, Field Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field 
Office, 2105 Osuna NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113, by telephone 505-346-
2525 or by facsimile 505-346-2542. Persons who use a telecommunications 
device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay 
Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, a species may warrant 
protection through listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range. Listing a species as an 
endangered or threatened species can be completed only by issuing a 
rule.
    This rule will finalize the listing of the Zuni bluehead sucker 
(Catostomus discobolus yarrowi) as an endangered species.
    The Endangered Species Act provides the basis for our action. Under 
the Act, we can determine that a species is an endangered or threatened 
species based on any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence.
    We have determined that the Zuni bluehead sucker meets the 
definition of an endangered species due to the combined effects of:
     Habitat destruction, modification, and degradation 
resulting from water withdrawal (stream drying); sedimentation; 
impoundments; livestock grazing; and the spread of nonnative species.
     Predation by nonnative species such as the green sunfish 
(Lepomis cyanellus), northern crayfish (Orconectes virilis), and red 
swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), which limit recruitment and 
reduce population size.
     Existing Federal, State, or Tribal regulatory mechanisms 
that could provide protection to the Zuni bluehead sucker do provide 
limited protection; however, many are inadequate to protect the species 
from existing and future threats.
     Small population size and restricted ranges of the species 
make the Zuni bluehead sucker population vulnerable to stochastic 
events, such as wildfire and drought.
    We requested peer review of the methods used in making our final 
determination. We obtained opinions from five knowledgeable individuals 
having scientific expertise in this species and solicited review of the 
scientific information and methods that we used in developing the 
proposal. During the public comment period following the 6-month 
extension notice, we also obtained opinions and information from three 
knowledgeable individuals with genetic and morphological expertise. 
These individuals reviewed all available relevant information for the 
Zuni bluehead sucker to determine whether we had used the best 
available information. These peer reviewers generally concurred with 
our methods and conclusion, and provided additional information, 
clarification, and suggestions to improve this final listing rule.
    We sought public comment on the proposed listing rule. During the 
first comment period, we received four comment letters directly 
addressing the proposed listing. During the second comment period, we 
received six comment letters addressing the proposed listing rule.

Previous Federal Action

    We first identified the Zuni bluehead sucker as a candidate species 
in the September 18, 1985, Review of Vertebrate Wildlife; Notice of 
Review (50 FR 37958). The Zuni bluehead sucker was identified as a 
Category 2 Candidate species at that time; Category 2 Candidates were 
defined as species for which we had information that proposed listing 
was possibly appropriate, but conclusive data on biological 
vulnerability and threats were not available to support a proposed rule 
at the time. The species remained so designated in subsequent annual 
Candidate Notices of Review (CNOR) (54 FR 554, January 6, 1989; 56 FR 
58804, November 21, 1991; and 59 FR 58982, November 15, 1994). In the 
February 28, 1996, CNOR (61 FR 7596), we discontinued the designation 
of Category 2 species as candidates; therefore, the Zuni bluehead 
sucker was no longer a candidate species.
    Subsequently, in 2001, the Zuni bluehead sucker was added to the 
candidate list (66 FR 54807, October 30, 2001). Candidates are those 
fish, wildlife, and plants for which we have on file sufficient 
information on biological vulnerability and threats to support 
preparation of a listing proposal, but for which development of a 
listing regulation is precluded by other higher priority listing 
activities. The Zuni bluehead sucker was included in all of our 
subsequent annual CNORs (67 FR 40657, June 13, 2002; 69 FR 24876, May 
4, 2004; 70 FR 24870, May 11, 2005; 71 FR 53756, September 12, 2006; 72 
FR 69034, December 6, 2007; 73 FR 75176, December 10, 2008; 74 FR 
578034 November 9, 2009; 75 FR 69222, November 10, 2010; and 76 FR 
66370, October 26, 2011). On May 11, 2004, we were petitioned to list 
Zuni bluehead sucker, although no new information was provided in the 
petition. Because we had already found that the species warranted 
proposed listing, no further action was taken on the petition. Zuni 
bluehead sucker has a listing priority number of 3, which reflects a 
subspecies with threats that are both imminent and high in magnitude.

[[Page 43133]]

    On January 25, 2013, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule (78 FR 5369) to list the Zuni bluehead sucker as an 
endangered species under the Act. On the same date, we also published 
in the Federal Register a proposed rule to designate critical habitat 
for the Zuni bluehead sucker (78 FR 5351; January 25, 2013). Both the 
proposed listing rule and the proposed critical habitat rule had a 60-
day comment period, ending March 26, 2013.
    After the publication of the proposed rules, we found there was 
substantial scientific disagreement regarding the taxonomic status of 
some populations that we considered Zuni bluehead sucker in the 
proposed rule, and we reopened the comment period for the proposed 
listing rule and extended the schedule for the final determination for 
6 months in order to solicit and analyze information that would help to 
clarify the issues. On January 9, 2014, we published in the Federal 
Register a notice that extended the final determination for the Zuni 
bluehead sucker by 6 months due to substantial disagreement regarding 
the Zuni bluehead sucker's taxonomic status in some locations (79 FR 
1615). That comment period closed on February 10, 2014.

Background

Species Information

    The Zuni bluehead sucker has a fusiform (torpedo-shaped), slender 
body with a subterminal mouth (mouth posterior to the tip of the snout) 
(Propst 1999, p. 49). Most individuals do not exceed 20.3 centimeters 
(cm) (8 inches (in)) in total length, although the species has been 
known to exceed 25 cm (9 in) in total length (Propst and Hobbes 1996, 
pp. 22-34). The Zuni bluehead sucker has a bluish head, silvery-tan to 
dark green back, and yellowish to silvery-white sides and abdomen. 
Adults are mottled slate-gray to almost black dorsally (upper part of 
the body) and cream-white ventrally (toward the abdomen). During the 
spawning season, males may be differentiated by coarse tubercles (wart-
like projections) on the rear fins and the caudal peduncle (the narrow 
part of the fish's body to which the tail fin is attached). Males also 
have distinctive breeding coloration, becoming intensely black dorsally 
with a bright red horizontal band and a white abdomen (Propst 1999, p. 
49; Propst et al. 2001, p. 163).
Habitat and Life History
    Carman (2008, p. 2) described Zuni bluehead sucker habitat as 
stream reaches with clean, perennial water flowing over hard substrate 
(material on the stream bottom), such as bedrock. Propst and Hobbes 
(1996, pp. 13, 16) reported that Zuni bluehead suckers were collected 
mainly in pool and pool-run habitats. These habitat areas were shaded 
with water velocities of less than 0.1 meter per second (0.3 feet per 
second) (Propst and Hobbes 1996, p. 13). Most specimens were found in 
water that was 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in) deep with cobble, boulders, 
and bedrock substrate (Propst and Hobbes 1996, pp. 13, 16). In general, 
Zuni bluehead sucker was rare or absent in reaches where the substrate 
was dominated by silt or sand (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 
(NMDGF) 2004, p. 7). Pools were often edged by emergent aquatic plants 
and riparian vegetation (mainly willows (Salix spp.)) (Propst and 
Hobbes 1996, p. 16).
    Zuni bluehead sucker feed primarily on algae scraped from rocks, 
rubble, and gravel substrates (Winter 1979, p. 4; Sublette et al. 1990, 
p. 211). Algae attached to rocks and plants are generally abundant in 
reaches where Zuni bluehead suckers are common (NMDGF 2004, p. 8). 
Bluehead suckers, including the Zuni bluehead sucker, require clean 
gravel substrate with minimal silt for spawning (Maddux and Kepner 
1988, p. 364) because silt covers eggs and leads to suffocation.
Taxonomy and Genetics
    To help understand the information that follows in this ``Taxonomy 
and Genetics'' section and throughout the entirety of this final rule, 
we provide a geographic introduction to orient the reader. There are 
three main areas discussed in this final rule: The Zuni River 
watershed, the Kinlichee Creek watershed, and the Canyon de Chelly 
watershed. The Zuni River watershed of the Little Colorado River 
watershed in New Mexico contains the following streams: Zuni River, Rio 
Pescado, Rio Nutria, Tampico Draw, and Cebolla Creek. In addition, 
there are two headwater springs to the Rio Nutria; these are Tampico 
Spring (formerly known as Deans Creek) and Agua Remora (formerly known 
as Radosevich Creek). The Kinlichee Creek watershed occurs in eastern 
Arizona on the Navajo Nation near Ft. Defiance and is part of the 
Little Colorado River watershed. Streams in this watershed include Red 
Clay Wash, Black Soil Wash, Scattered Willow Wash, and Kinlichee Creek 
itself. Lastly, the Canyon de Chelly watershed occurs on the Navajo 
Nation in the Lower San Juan River watershed located in northeastern 
Arizona and northwestern New Mexico, and includes the following 
streams: Tsaile Creek, Sonsela Creek, Wheatfields Creek, Whiskey Creek, 
Coyote Wash, Little Whiskey Creek, and Crystal Creek. Most of the 
Canyon de Chelly watershed is not discussed in depth in this final rule 
because the best available information does not support a determination 
that Zuni bluehead sucker occurs in the Canyon de Chelly watershed; 
however, this is explained in more detail below and in the Summary of 
Comments and Recommendations section. A geographical reference map is 
available on http://www.regulations.gov and on the New Mexico 
Ecological Services Field Office Web site at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/NewMexico/. In addition, Table 1 (below) outlines where 
the various streams discussed in this rule occur.

        Table 1--Geographical Reference Information Regarding Watersheds Discussed in Final Listing Rule
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            Subwatershed                      State                 Watershed                  Streams
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zuni River.........................  New Mexico............  Little Colorado River.  Zuni River, Rio Pescado,
                                                                                      Rio Nutria, Tampico Draw,
                                                                                      Cebolla Creek, Tampico
                                                                                      Spring, Agua Remora.
Kinlichee Creek....................  Arizona...............  Little Colorado River.  Red Clay Wash, Black Soil
                                                                                      Wash, Scattered Willow
                                                                                      Wash, Kinlichee Creek.
Canyon de Chelly...................  Arizona & New Mexico..  Lower San Juan River..  Tsaile Creek, Sonsela
                                                                                      Creek, Wheatfields Creek,
                                                                                      Whiskey Creek, Coyote
                                                                                      Wash, Little Whiskey
                                                                                      Creek, and Crystal Creek.
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[[Page 43134]]

    The 6-month extension notice (79 FR 1615, January 9, 2014) included 
a detailed discussion of the taxonomy and genetics of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker. Rather than repeating that information here, we have narrowed 
our discussion in this final rule to address information from public 
comments received since the time of the proposed listing rule and to 
explain our overall conclusions.
    Our evaluation of morphological (pertaining to the physical form 
and structure of the fish) and genetic information supports recognition 
of the Zuni bluehead sucker as being a valid subspecies distinct from 
both the Rio Grande sucker (Catostomus plebeius) and the bluehead 
sucker (C. discobolus) (Smith 1966, pp. 87-90; Smith et al. 1983, pp. 
37-38; Crabtree and Buth 1987, p. 843; Propst 1999, p. 49). The Zuni 
bluehead sucker subspecies likely originated from a prehistoric 
geological event in which water of a Rio Grande tributary (where the 
Rio Grande sucker occurred) were brought into the headwaters of a 
Little Colorado River tributary (where the bluehead sucker occurred); 
this event caused the Rio Grande sucker and the bluehead sucker (which 
were formerly geographically isolated from one another) to come into 
contact and begin exchanging genes during the late Pleistocene (more 
than 1.1 million years ago) (Smith 1966, pp. 87-90; Smith et al. 1983, 
pp. 37-38; Unmack et al. 2014, p. 12). This process of the movement of 
a gene from one species into the gene pool of another species is known 
as introgression. Introgression results in a complex mixture of the 
parental genes in the offspring. In the case of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker, this genetic mixing of Rio Grande sucker genes with bluehead 
sucker genes occurred over an unknown length of time and created the 
distinct subspecies.
    As a result of this introgression, the best scientific information 
available indicates that the Zuni bluehead sucker subspecies exhibits 
either morphological or genetic traits that trace their ancestry to 
both bluehead sucker and Rio Grande sucker, with these traits randomly 
distributed in the population. The Zuni bluehead sucker subspecies is 
comprised of a complex of populations that may contain a subset of 
morphological or genetic traits as described above, but these 
populations (in the various watersheds) can be quite distinct from each 
other because all populations do not contain all morphological or 
genetic traits which resulted from the introgression. These 
morphological traits include several physical characteristics that are 
different from other bluehead suckers or Rio Grande suckers (such as 
fin-ray, lip, and jaw characteristics). These morphological traits are 
discussed in more detail in Smith et al. (1983, pp. 46-47). The 
populations described below in the ``Range and Distribution'' section 
all have at least one or both morphological or genetic traits that 
provide evidence and confirm that these populations are in fact Zuni 
bluehead sucker. If in the future, new information becomes available 
that indicates a population is confirmed to be Zuni bluehead sucker, 
that population would be considered part of the listed Zuni bluehead 
sucker entity and, thus, be protected under the Act.
    Both morphological and genetic data demonstrates that the Zuni 
bluehead sucker is present in the Zuni River watershed. However, the 
taxonomy of the occurrences of the subspecies outside of the Zuni River 
watershed has been disputed. Studies by Smith et al. (1983, entire) and 
Crabtree and Buth (1987, entire) support their conclusion that Zuni 
bluehead sucker occurs in both the Kinlichee Creek watershed of eastern 
Arizona and the Zuni River watershed in New Mexico. Alternatively, the 
Schwemm and Dowling (2008, entire) analysis extended the geographical 
range of the Zuni bluehead sucker to include bluehead suckers in the 
Lower San Juan River watershed (specifically in the Canyon de Chelly 
watershed, as discussed in the proposed rule). Lastly, Hopken et al. 
(2013, pp. 958, 966) and Douglas et al. (2013, pp. 2-3) provided 
evidence that the Zuni bluehead sucker occurred only in the Zuni River 
watershed (and not in the Kinlichee Creek watershed or the Canyon de 
Chelly watershed). These studies provided comprehensive data on the 
genetic variation across the range of the species, and we use these 
studies to evaluate which populations contain morphological or genetic 
evidence to support recognition as Zuni bluehead suckers. We also 
reviewed other relevant information (such as fisheries management in 
the Zuni River watershed) to contribute to our interpretation of the 
above-mentioned studies.
    Initially, the proposed rule described the Zuni bluehead sucker 
subspecies as including the bluehead sucker populations from Canyon de 
Chelly because nuclear DNA (nDNA) analysis by Schwemm and Dowling 
(2008, p. 12) reported the presence of Rio Grande sucker genetics, 
providing new evidence that introgression of Rio Grande sucker with 
bluehead sucker expanded beyond the Little Colorado River watershed 
into the Lower San Juan River watershed. However, since the publication 
of the proposed rule, we received peer review comments from Dowling 
(2014, entire) that re-evaluated and summarized Schwemm and Dowling 
(2008, entire). Schwemm and Dowling (2008, entire) and Dowling (2014, 
entire) are, therefore, referred to as the same study. Dowling (2014, 
p. 2) stated that an error was recently discovered in the genetic data 
of Schwemm and Dowling (2008, entire). This error provides evidence 
that the bluehead suckers in the Lower San Juan River watershed (Canyon 
de Chelly watershed) should not currently be definitively recognized as 
Zuni bluehead sucker because the nDNA analysis was determined to be 
inaccurate. There is no other morphological or genetic evidence to 
support that the Zuni bluehead sucker occurs in the Canyon de Chelly 
populations; these populations do not exhibit evidence of either a 
genetic signature of the Rio Grande sucker or unique Zuni bluehead 
sucker genetics. Thus, the Canyon de Chelly populations will no longer 
be discussed in this final listing rule. The Canyon de Chelly 
populations are bluehead suckers but are not part of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker subspecies' range based on both literature and peer review 
comments received during the open comment period of the 6-month 
extension.
    Similarly, the taxonomy of the occurrences of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker subspecies in the Kinlichee Creek watershed has also been 
disputed. The error that Dowling (2014, p. 2) described in the genetic 
data of Schwemm and Dowling (2008, entire) also discounts that 
introgression between the Rio Grande sucker and bluehead sucker 
established the Zuni bluehead sucker subspecies in the Kinlichee Creek 
watershed. Specifically, Dowling (2014, p. 5) states that there is no 
genetic evidence of the Rio Grande sucker in the specimens sampled from 
the Kinlichee Creek watershed. However, despite a lack of genetic 
evidence to support this conclusion, Smith et al. (1983, entire) 
provides morphological evidence supporting that introgression between 
the two species likely did establish the Zuni bluehead sucker 
subspecies in the Kinlichee Creek watershed. Some of the physical 
attributes evaluated by Smith et al. (1983, entire) include width of 
the specimen's jaw, standard length, and tail length; all of these 
attributes are consistent with the hypothesis of introgression between 
Rio Grande suckers and bluehead suckers. Thus, Dowling (2014, p. 5) 
concludes that Kinlichee Creek should be identified as part of the Zuni 
bluehead sucker range

[[Page 43135]]

based on the morphological evidence. In addition to the morphological 
evidence of Smith et al. and emphasized by Dowling, Crabtree and Buth 
(1987, pp. 848, Table 2, 852) concluded that specimens in the upper 
Little Colorado River watershed, where Kinlichee Creek is located, 
contained genetics unique to the Zuni bluehead sucker. This further 
supports that Zuni bluehead sucker likely occurs in the Kinlichee Creek 
watershed.
    The two studies that discount the presence of Zuni bluehead sucker 
in the Kinlichee Creek watershed are Hopken et al. (2013, entire) and 
Douglas et al. (2013, entire). However, Hopken et al. (2013, entire) 
did not evaluate samples from this watershed. Alternatively, Douglas et 
al. (2013, entire) evaluated samples from the Kinlichee Creek watershed 
and failed to detect Rio Grande sucker genetics in the specimens 
sampled. The lack of the Rio Grande sucker genetic signature in 
Kinlichee Creek may be due to genetic bottlenecks. A genetic bottleneck 
is an event during which only a few individuals survive to continue the 
existence of the population; these bottlenecks result in a loss of 
genetic diversity and a loss of especially rare genetics such as those 
that may be in a Rio Grande sucker or the Zuni bluehead sucker itself. 
The Kinlichee Creek watershed is geographically isolated from the Zuni 
River watershed population, and, within the Kinlichee Creek watershed, 
the population faces periodic fragmentation that can limit gene flow 
and contribute to genetic bottlenecks. Thus, Douglas et al. (2013, p. 
15) concluded that several populations within the Kinlichee Creek 
watershed have experienced genetic bottlenecks at some point in time. 
Furthermore, although the genetic analysis did not find the presence of 
the Rio Grande sucker genetics in specimens from Kinlichee Creek, the 
specimens throughout the Little Colorado River watershed sampled by 
Crabtree and Buth (1987, pp. 848, Table 2, 852) contained genetics 
unique to the Zuni bluehead sucker as described above. Based on the 
morphological evidence and the presence of unique Zuni bluehead sucker 
genetics in some sites within the watershed, we conclude that the 
streams we have described as the Kinlichee Creek area should be 
identified as part of the Zuni bluehead sucker subspecies' range. Given 
the information and rationale explained above, we conclude that the 
Zuni bluehead sucker currently occurs in two discrete watersheds--the 
Zuni River watershed and the Kinlichee Creek watershed.
    There are also genetic issues for the subspecies located within the 
Zuni River watershed. It is important to note that the Agua Remora 
population was established by a translocation effort made by the 
Radosevich family in the 1920s (Winter 1979, p. 4) or 1930s (Merkel 
1979, p. 11). An unknown number of Zuni bluehead sucker were 
translocated from the Rio Nutria to Agua Remora (Merkel 1979, p. 11), 
and it is also unknown if this was a single or multiple translocation 
events. Then, beginning in the 1960s and ending in 1975, a series of 
chemical treatments were initiated in both the Rio Nutria and Rio 
Pescado to eradicate several species of fish that were problematic for 
the establishment of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations in 
the reservoirs connected to the Rio Nutria on the Zuni Indian 
Reservation (Merkel 1979, entire). Although these treatments did not 
include Agua Remora because it was on private land, one of the species 
eradicated by these chemical treatments was the Zuni bluehead sucker, 
which was not present in the post-treatment surveys conducted, 
including within the Nutria Box (chemically treated in 1960, 1962, and 
1967) (Merkel 1979, p. 13). Later, during a survey in 1971, a sizeable 
population of Zuni bluehead sucker was found within and below the 
Nutria Box, and Merkel (1979, p. 10) hypothesized that this population 
was either reestablished with individuals from Agua Remora during high 
flow events or that the fish were not completely eradicated from the 
Nutria Box. Further surveys of the upper Rio Nutria watershed in 1972 
and 1973 found two populations, one at Agua Remora and another below 
Nutria Reservoir Number 2 (Merkel 1979, pp. 11-12).
    Starting in 1975, a series of translocation events were conducted 
using fish from Agua Remora (Merkel 1979, p. 15). The new populations 
included Tampico Draw (100 fry and 15 yearlings), Tampico Spring (50 
fry and 10 yearlings), Rio Nutria above Nutria Box (200 fry and 40 
yearlings), and Cebolla Creek (Rio Pescado tributary; 250-300 fry and 
20 yearlings) (Merkel 1979, p. 15). Many of these populations 
experienced high post-stocking mortality (40-50 percent) including 
complete mortality (Tampico Draw and Cebolla Creek). Hanson (1980, p. 
13) found a number of populations within the Rio Pescado during surveys 
conducted in 1978 and confirmed the presence of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker in Agua Remora and the upper portion of the Rio Nutria, 
including Nutria Box and Tampico Spring. Based on the known history 
(i.e., fish translocation), we conclude that the Agua Remora population 
was founded by a few individuals from Rio Nutria; likewise, the Tampico 
Spring population was founded by a few individuals from Agua Remora. 
The genetic analysis from Douglas et al. (2013, pp. 13-16), and Schwemm 
and Dowling (2008, p. 12), indicate that the Rio Nutria population has 
Rio Grande sucker genetics. Alternatively, genetic analysis by Turner 
and Wilson (2009, p. 9) failed to identify a Rio Grande sucker genetic 
signature in Rio Nutria; however, this may be attributed to small 
sample size (n=25). This lack of genetic signature is likely due to the 
small number of individuals used to establish the new populations, 
which can create a genetic bottleneck, as explained above. Both Hopken 
et al. (2013, p. 964) and Douglas et al. (2013, p. 15), concluded that 
the Agua Remora population has experienced genetic bottlenecks at some 
point in time.
    It is believed that the Rio Nutria population was reestablished 
from individuals from Agua Remora (Merkel 1979, p. 11); however, this 
is unlikely given the lack of Rio Grande sucker genetics in the Agua 
Remora population. It is more likely that Zuni bluehead sucker 
individuals within the Rio Nutria or Nutria Box survived chemical 
treatment. Thus, historical genetic bottlenecks, especially when 
followed by genetic drift (elevated random loss of genetics 
corresponding to physical traits that occurs in small populations), can 
alter the present genetic signature of a population. The lack of a Rio 
Grande sucker genetic signature in the Tampico Spring population does 
not imply these fish are not Zuni bluehead sucker because history shows 
that these populations were established by translocation efforts. This 
is consistent with the results from Crabtree and Buth (1987, p. 852) 
supporting a conclusion that Zuni bluehead sucker is a distinct 
subspecies regardless of its interaction with Rio Grande sucker.
Range and Distribution

New Mexico Distribution

    The Zuni River watershed extends west from the continental divide, 
across the Zuni Pueblo, and drains into the Little Colorado River in 
Arizona, west of the Zuni Pueblo. In the Zuni River watershed of New 
Mexico, as mentioned above, the subspecies is believed to be restricted 
to three isolated populations in the upper Rio Nutria watershed (Carman 
2008, pp. 2-3). More specifically, the subspecies occurs in

[[Page 43136]]

and upstream of the Rio Nutria from the mouth of Rio Nutria Box Canyon 
near the eastern boundary of the Zuni Pueblo, and upstream in Tampico 
Draw. In addition, Zuni bluehead sucker also occurs in separate 
populations in two headwater springs to the Rio Nutria: Tampico Spring 
and Agua Remora (Hanson 1980, p. 1; Propst et al. 2001, p. 161). 
Although there are two Tampico Springs, the Tampico Spring we discuss 
in this final listing rule is on private land on the west side of the 
Oso Ridge and is not identified on a topographic map. This should not 
be confused with another Tampico Spring identified on topographic maps, 
located on public land, which is on the east side of the Oso Ridge. 
Elsewhere in the Zuni River watershed, the Zuni bluehead sucker is rare 
or absent. Flow is intermittent in the Zuni River, Rio Pescado, and Rio 
Nutria, except for short reaches that flow permanently in response to 
discharge from springs (Orr 1987, p. 37; NMDGF 2013, p. 9).
    Zuni bluehead sucker numbers have been starkly reduced in the Zuni 
River watershed in New Mexico, largely due to 27 chemical treatments 
during the 1960s to remove green sunfish and fathead minnow (Pimephales 
promelas) from the Rio Nutria to aid in the establishment of a rainbow 
trout sport fishery in reservoirs on Zuni Pueblo (Winter 1979, p. 4). 
These treatments eliminated the Zuni bluehead sucker from most of the 
Zuni River watershed (Winter 1979, p. 4). As a result, by the late 
1970s, the Zuni bluehead sucker range in New Mexico had been reduced. 
While records are largely incomplete, it is known that a population of 
Zuni bluehead suckers near the mouth of the Rio Nutria Box Canyon was 
extirpated due to chemical treatments and that substantial numbers were 
also eliminated in other reaches of the Rio Nutria and Rio Pescado 
(NMDGF 2004, p. 16).
    The Zuni bluehead sucker has not been collected from the mainstem 
Zuni River since 1978 or from the Rio Pescado since 1993 (Hanson 1980, 
pp. 12-13; Propst and Hobbs 1996, pp. 11-12). Much of the lower 
portions of historical habitat in the Zuni River and Rio Pescado are 
dry during certain times of the year. Continued monitoring of these 
streams since 2004 has confirmed the extirpation of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker from these rivers (NMDGF 2004, p. 4; Carman 2007, p. 1; 2008, p. 
1; 2009, p. 1). Additionally, Cebolla Creek, a Zuni River tributary, 
was surveyed in 1979, and no Zuni bluehead suckers were found, although 
habitat appeared suitable (Hanson 1980, pp. 29, 34).
    The population of Zuni bluehead suckers in the Rio Nutria was 
maintained by dispersal of individuals from upstream untreated reaches, 
such as Agua Remora (Winter 1979, p. 4; Propst 1999, pp. 49-50). The 
Zuni bluehead sucker persists in the upper Rio Nutria watershed in 
three isolated populations over 3.7 kilometers (km) (2.3 miles (mi)), 
mainly upstream of the mouth of the Rio Nutria Box Canyon and two 
springs (Propst 1999, pp. 49-50; Propst et al. 2001, p. 168; Carman 
2008, pp. 2-3; Service 2014a, pers. comm., entire). Within this 
watershed, it is most common near the Rio Nutria Box Canyon mouth, the 
confluence of the Rio Nutria and Tampico Draw, and headwater springs 
such as Agua Remora and Tampico Spring (Stroh and Propst 1993, p. 34; 
Propst and Hobbes 1996, p. 10; Propst 1999, p. 50; Propst et al. 2001, 
p. 162; Carman 2007, p. 1; 2008, p. 1; 2009, p. 2; 2010, p. 1; Gilbert 
and Carman 2011, p. 1; NMDGF 2013, p. 1). Within the 3.7-km (2.3-mi) 
occupied reach, the largest extent of perennial stream with limited 
levels of siltation is found in the Rio Nutria Box Canyon, from the 
confluence with Tampico Draw downstream to the canyon mouth.

Population Status of the Species in New Mexico

    Population abundance has not been estimated because of the 
difficulty of detecting and sampling all habitats. However, results 
from numerous survey efforts confirm that Zuni bluehead sucker 
populations in New Mexico are fragmented and low in numbers. Fish 
surveys have been conducted within the Zuni River watershed in 1977-
1979, 1984, 1990-1993, 2000-2001, and every year since 2004 (Winter 
1977, p. 1; Hanson 1980, p. 29; Stefferud 1985, p. 1; Propst and Hobbes 
1996, p. 14, Carman 2010, pp. 13-15, Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 23; 
NMDGF 2013, p. 25). Based on available maps and survey information, we 
estimate the present range of the Zuni bluehead sucker in New Mexico to 
be approximately 5 percent or less of its historical range.
    The first extensive survey for the Zuni bluehead sucker in the Zuni 
River watershed was during 1978 and 1979 (Hanson 1980, p. 1). Hanson 
(1980, pp. 7, 8, 11, 13, 25, 27) provides a detailed map of areas 
surveyed, which included the following locations: Zuni River, Rio 
Pescado, Rio Nutria, Tampico Draw, Agua Remora, Tampico Spring, 
Galestino Creek, Yellowhouse Spring, Six Mile Creek, and Cebolla Creek. 
Zuni bluehead suckers were confirmed at all locations, except Galestino 
Creek, Yellowhouse Spring, Six Mile Creek, and Cebolla Creek. Surveys 
were sporadic between 1977 and 2003; then, in 2004, NMDGF began an 
annual monitoring program to assess the status of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker as a part of the NMDGF's efforts to recover the fish (Carman 
2004, p. 2).
    In this rule, we rely upon catch per unit effort, or catch rates, 
to evaluate Zuni bluehead sucker population trends after 1991 because 
of the limitations of survey data and variability in sampling effort. 
Catch rates are measured by the number of fish caught per second of 
electrofishing and provide a metric for evaluating population trends. 
No information on catch and effort is available prior to 1991; 
therefore, we may only make qualitative comparisons of the number or 
evaluate presence and absence of Zuni bluehead sucker collected over 
time for data prior to 1991. While catch per unit effort is valuable 
for assessing trends over time, it unfortunately does not allow us to 
develop overall population estimates for the species.
    For example, in Tampico Draw, a tributary to Rio Nutria, Zuni 
bluehead sucker catch rates declined dramatically in 2005, from as high 
as 0.111 suckers per second to 0.0004 suckers per second. The decline 
is presumed to be a result of beaver (Castor Canadensis) dams (Gilbert 
and Carman 2011, p. 20). Catch rates appeared to rebound somewhat in 
2009 (0.065 suckers per second) (Table 2), after high spring flows 
washed out the beaver dams, creating more suitable habitat for Zuni 
bluehead sucker (Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 5). Larval Zuni bluehead 
suckers have been confirmed in the Rio Nutria and its headwater 
springs, including Tampico Draw, each year between 2007 and 2012, 
indicating successful spawning (Carman 2008, p. 1; Carman 2009, p. 18; 
Carman 2010, p. 15; Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 1; NMDGF 2013, p. 25).
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

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    Zuni bluehead suckers have persisted at Agua Remora, with catch 
rates ranging from 0.02 Zuni bluehead suckers per second to 0.34 fish 
per second (Table 2). Young (less than 5 cm (2 in) total length) Zuni 
bluehead

[[Page 43138]]

suckers have not been observed in the Agua Remora headwater spring 
habitat, and only mature adults were present there in 2005, 2006, and 
2008 (Carman 2006, p. 8; Carman 2007, p. 13; Carman 2009, p. 14). The 
absence of young Zuni bluehead sucker correlates with low catch rate 
years and also with the presence of green sunfish, as evidenced by 
improved catch rates documented once the habitat was void of green 
sunfish after 2009.
    Catch rates at Tampico Spring, within the Rio Nutria watershed, 
have been declining consistently in recent years; while this site once 
exhibited the highest catch rates for the species, at 0.589 suckers per 
second in 2007, numbers have since declined, with 0.106 fish caught per 
second in 2011 (Table 2). However, this population has shown 
improvement based on the 2012 survey with 0.210 fish caught per second 
(Table 2). Despite the prior declines at Tampico Spring, this 
population is showing signs of improvement (albeit one year), and the 
site continues to maintain the highest catch rates among sites within 
the Zuni River watershed for each year (NMDGF 2013, p. 26).
    Although we cannot make statistical comparisons of all the catch 
data due to the lack of quantitative data prior to 1991, the presence 
of Zuni bluehead suckers collected throughout the Zuni River watershed 
can be assessed since 1977, where detections range from absent to few 
individuals (Table 3). For example, the number of Zuni bluehead suckers 
captured declined from 160 in 1977 (Winter 1977, p. 1), to 16 
individuals in 2010 (Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 23) (Table 3), but the 
population has shown improvement with 163 individuals being captured in 
2012 (NMDGF 2013, p. 25). Both the Zuni River and Rio Pescado have been 
surveyed since 1993, but investigators have failed to collect Zuni 
bluehead sucker at either site since 1993 (as illustrated in Table 3). 
Both the Zuni River and Rio Pescado habitat are degraded and contain 
few areas with permanent flow. Where perennial water exists, suitable 
habitat is lacking and nonnative predators such as green sunfish and 
Northern pike (Esox lucius) dominate (Carman 2009, p. 2).

[[Page 43139]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR24JY14.001

    In summary, in New Mexico, the Zuni bluehead sucker persists in 
three isolated populations over 3.7 km (2.3 mi), and fish surveys from 
1990 to 2012 show that Zuni bluehead sucker populations in headwater 
springs like

[[Page 43140]]

Agua Remora and upper Rio Nutria have declined significantly from 
numbers seen in the 1970s. In the 1990s, the population at the Zuni 
River confluence with Rio Nutria and Rio Pescado was declining, and the 
populations in the Rio Pescado and lower Zuni River were almost 
depleted (Stroh and Propst 1993, p. 1). However, all persisting 
populations of Zuni bluehead sucker did show improvement in the last 2 
years (NMDGF 2013, p. 26). These populations are highly sensitive to 
change, whether it is the presence of nonnative fish, beaver activity, 
or stream flow. The Zuni bluehead sucker has not been collected from 
the Zuni River or Rio Pescado since 1993 (Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 
1). In occupied areas, dispersal from upstream populations (i.e., Rio 
Nutria) may augment downstream populations, but both downstream and 
upstream movement is generally blocked by physical obstructions, such 
as natural waterfalls, irrigation diversions, and impoundments (Propst 
et al. 2001, p. 168). The irregular occurrence of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker in reaches downstream from the mouth of Rio Nutria Canyon (Rio 
Nutria, Zuni River, and Rio Pescado) indicates limited downstream 
dispersal from occupied stream reaches. No Zuni bluehead suckers were 
found in the Rio Nutria between the canyon mouth and the confluence of 
the Rio Pescado.

Arizona Distribution

    In Arizona, Zuni bluehead suckers are found on the Navajo Indian 
Reservation in the Kinlichee Creek watershed. The Kinlichee Creek 
watershed is part of the Little Colorado River watershed west of Fort 
Defiance, Arizona, and the Zuni bluehead sucker has been documented in 
several locations over a 47-km (29-mi) area (Smith et al. 1983, p. 39; 
Crabtree and Buth 1987, p. 843; Hobbes 2000, pp. 9-16). This 47-km (29-
mi) area includes Kinlichee Creek, Red Clay Wash, Black Soil Wash (also 
referred to as Black Soil Spring), and Scattered Willow Wash.
    Zuni bluehead sucker survey efforts have been more irregular in 
Arizona than in New Mexico. Populations of Zuni bluehead sucker are 
found in several locations over approximately 47 km (29 mi) of 
Kinlichee Creek (Smith et al. 1983, p. 39; Crabtree and Buth 1987, p. 
843; Hobbes 2000, pp. 9-16). It is unlikely that the whole length of 
the Kinlichee Creek watershed is occupied, because the streams are 
susceptible to drying during drought. In addition, no comprehensive 
surveys have been done along this stream reach. Within the watershed, 
the species occurs in Kinlichee Creek, Black Soil Wash, Red Clay Wash, 
and Scattered Willow Wash based on collections made in 2000, 2001, 
2004, and 2012 (Hobbes 2000, pp. 9-16; Hobbes 2001a, pp. 38, 43; Hobbes 
2001b, entire; Carman 2004, pp. 1-8; Kitcheyan and Mata 2013, p. 10).

Population Status of the Species in Arizona

    For several years (2000, 2001, and 2004), Zuni bluehead sucker 
surveys were conducted in the Kinlichee Creek watershed in Arizona on 
the Navajo Indian Reservation (Hobbes 2001a, entire; Carman 2004, 
entire). These were historical collection sites that had not been 
sampled since 1987, when the Zuni bluehead sucker was last documented 
by Crabtree and Buth (1987, p. 851). The species was collected in low 
numbers in Kinlichee Creek, Black Soil Wash, and Scattered Willow Wash 
in 2000, 2001, and 2004. In 2012, collections occurred in Black Soil 
Wash and Kinlichee Creek, with 664 and 92 Zuni bluehead suckers, 
respectively (Kitcheyan and Mata 2013, p. 10), indicating the species' 
continued presence in these streams. Because these were only presence/
absence surveys, we have no population estimates for the subspecies in 
Arizona.

Summary of Zuni Bluehead Sucker Distribution

    Zuni bluehead sucker distribution has been reduced by an estimated 
95 percent in the last 30 years in New Mexico (Propst 1999, p. 51; 
NMDGF 2004, p. 15; Service 2014a, pers. comm.). The extent of potential 
range reduction in Arizona is not known. The entire Kinlichee Creek 
watershed encompasses approximately 47 km (29 mi) (Smith et al. 1983, 
p. 39; Crabtree and Buth 1987, p. 843; Hobbes 2000, pp. 9-16). It is 
unlikely that the entirety of the Kinlichee Creek watershed is occupied 
because the streams are susceptible to drying during drought. The 
number of Zuni bluehead sucker found in the Kinlichee Creek watershed 
in Arizona range from zero to 664 individuals between 2000 and 2012 
(Hobbes 2000, pp. 9-16; Albert 2001, pp. 10-14; NMDGF et al. 2003, p. 
6-10); David 2006, p. 35, Kitcheyan and Mata 2013, pp. 10-11). The 
subspecies is restricted to three isolated populations in the upper Rio 
Nutria watershed in west-central New Mexico (Carman 2008, pp. 2-3).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We requested comments from the public on the proposed listing for 
the Zuni bluehead sucker during two comment periods. The first comment 
period associated with the publication of the proposed rule (78 FR 
5369) opened on January 25, 2013, and closed on March 11, 2013. During 
our 6-month extension on the final determination for the Zuni bluehead 
sucker, we reopened the comment period from January 9, 2014 to February 
10, 2014 (79 FR 1615). We also contacted appropriate Federal and State 
agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other interested 
parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. Newspaper notices 
inviting general public comment were published in both the Gallup 
Independent and Navajo Times on January 25, 2013, and January 31, 2013, 
respectively. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. All 
substantive information provided during comment periods has either been 
incorporated directly into this final determination or addressed below.

Peer Reviewer Comments

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinion from six knowledgeable 
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with 
the Zuni bluehead sucker and its habitat, biological needs, and 
threats. We received responses from five of the peer reviewers. During 
the first comment period, we received some contradictory public 
comments, and we received new information relevant to the listing 
determination. For these reasons, we solicited expert opinions from 25 
geneticists and taxonomists specifically to review the substantive 
discussion and information presented in the 6-month extension notice in 
light of disagreement regarding the taxonomic status of some 
populations that we considered Zuni bluehead sucker in the proposed 
rule. We received responses from three knowledgeable individuals with 
expertise in genetics and taxonomy. The peer reviewers generally 
concurred with our methods and conclusions and provided additional 
information, clarifications, and suggestions to improve the final 
listing rule. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the following 
summary and incorporated into the final rule as appropriate.
    (1) Comment: The primary reason for the imperilment of the species 
(habitat loss due to stream drying) was not adequately explained. The 
fact that nearly all historical habitat has been dewatered was buried 
in other information. This could be corrected by an upfront statement 
that the species is currently restricted to the only 4.8 km

[[Page 43141]]

(3 mi) of perennial water left within their historical habitat.
    Our Response: Habitat loss due to stream drying is the primary 
reason for the imperilment of the species. However, in determining and 
evaluating threats to the Zuni bluehead sucker, we identify the sources 
of those threats. We identified water withdrawal and dams/impoundments 
as a source of habitat loss and stream drying, which is then 
exacerbated by climate change. In addition, we have refined our 
analysis and language in the New Mexico Distribution, Population Status 
of the Species in New Mexico, and Determination sections. The final 
rule mentions repeatedly that the species' distribution is limited to 
3.7 km (2.3 mi) of stream habitat in New Mexico based on our 
reevaluation of the species' distribution in New Mexico.
    (2) Comment: The discussion of disease is overstated; there is no 
evidence that black grub (Neascus spp.) is a threat to Zuni bluehead 
sucker.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that the specific effects of black 
grub on the Zuni bluehead sucker are unknown. In determining whether or 
not disease is a threat to the Zuni bluehead sucker, we used the best 
scientific and commercial data available. This included articles 
published in peer-reviewed journals, data collected by NMDGF, and 
comments received on both the proposed rule and the 6-month extension 
of the final determination. Some of our citations are not specific to 
this species or geographic area. Nevertheless, the best scientific and 
commercial information available does not indicate that disease is a 
threat to the species rangewide, as stated in both the proposed and 
final rules. However, we conclude that black and yellow grub (a 
parasite that may affect the subspecies) may be a threat to the species 
in the future, as the parasite has profound effects on many other 
species of fish and has been detected in the Zuni bluehead sucker.
    (3) Comment: The inclusion of the Canyon de Chelly populations is 
not appropriate based on the lack of published genetic support and the 
geographic separation between this population and those in the Little 
Colorado River watershed. Therefore, it is not appropriate to classify 
bluehead sucker in Canyon de Chelly as Zuni bluehead sucker. In 
addition, why did the Service include information on a catostomid 
(sucker family) population of uncertainty? This suggests that a 
comprehensive genetic investigation of all definitive and suspected 
Zuni bluehead suckers is needed prior to publishing a proposal to list 
the Zuni bluehead sucker as endangered. In addition, until genetic 
studies of catostomid populations are published in a peer-reviewed 
journal, it is inappropriate to consider these populations Zuni 
bluehead sucker.
    Our Response: In the proposed rule, we identified populations in 
the Canyon de Chelly watershed as Zuni bluehead sucker because previous 
genetic analysis (Schwemm and Dowling 2008, entire) provided evidence 
supporting this conclusion. As mentioned in the ``Taxonomy and 
Genetics'' section, this conclusion was based on inaccurate 
information. Dowling (2014, entire) reevaluated and summarized Schwemm 
and Dowling (2008, entire) work during the open comment period for the 
6-month extension notice, and he noted that our conclusion to identify 
the bluehead suckers in Canyon de Chelly as Zuni bluehead suckers was 
based on an error in the Schwemm and Dowling (2008, entire) genetic 
data. We made the appropriate changes in the final rule to reflect the 
correct identification of populations as Zuni bluehead sucker.
    We used the best scientific and commercial data available to 
understand the contemporary and ancestral genetic patterns for the Zuni 
bluehead sucker. This included articles published in peer-reviewed 
journals, data not yet published, data collected by the Service, and 
data collected by NMDGF. When we announced the 6-month extension on the 
final determination for the Zuni bluehead sucker, we reopened the 
comment period and made all of the taxonomic and genetic information 
available to the public. Comments and information received were 
incorporated into our evaluation, as discussed in the ``Taxonomy and 
Genetics'' section. As discussed above, we identified populations of 
uncertainty (Canyon de Chelly in the Lower San Juan River watershed) as 
Zuni bluehead sucker at the time of the proposed rule because Schwemm 
and Dowling (2008) suggested that the Canyon de Chelly populations were 
Zuni bluehead sucker based on the presence of the Rio Grande sucker 
genetic signature. The Canyon de Chelly populations of bluehead sucker 
are not included in this final listing determination, however, because 
there is no longer morphological or genetic evidence to indicate that 
they are Zuni bluehead sucker. However, it is possible that future 
analysis of these populations in Canyon de Chelly may indicate the 
presence of Zuni bluehead suckers.
    (4) Comment: The taxonomy and genetics discussion is confusing in 
the proposed rule. It is not sufficient to say that populations that 
are geographically proximate (near each other) are the same 
taxonomically.
    Our Response: The reference to proximity in the proposed rule was 
intended to describe past and present connectivity of streams in the 
Canyon de Chelly watershed and to describe that the bluehead sucker 
population within the Canyon de Chelly watershed were considered to be 
genetically related to one another. However, our evaluation of the 
taxonomy and genetics information no longer supports that bluehead 
suckers in the Canyon de Chelly watershed are Zuni bluehead suckers 
(see response to comment 3 and ``Taxonomy and Genetics'' section).
    (5) Comment: One peer reviewer suggested that the Service clarify 
that investigators conducting their bluehead sucker surveys in 
Kinlichee Creek correctly identified their fish captured as bluehead 
suckers and produced their reports on that basis, and the Service later 
attributed their bluehead sucker to the subspecies of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker.
    Our Response: In response to this comment, we added language after 
first use of the NMDGF et al. (2003, entire) and David (2006, entire) 
citation in the Arizona Distribution section. As stated, in the Arizona 
Distribution section, investigators could not determine whether the 
bluehead suckers captured were bluehead suckers or Zuni bluehead 
suckers through external features and believed the taxon designation as 
a Zuni bluehead sucker was uncertain. However, Smith et al. (1983, p. 
46), provides information on how to morphologically distinguish a Zuni 
bluehead sucker from a Rio Grande sucker and bluehead sucker based on 
several characters (gill rakers, lower jaw, lips, vertebral counts, and 
fin ray counts). Based on the Smith et al. (1983, p. 46) morphological 
analysis of Zuni bluehead sucker in Kinlichee Creek, the Service 
attributed the bluehead suckers captured in NMDGF et al. (2003, entire) 
and David (2006, entire), as Zuni bluehead sucker.

Comments From States

    We received one comment from the Arizona Game and Fish Department 
(AGFD) supporting the listing. The NMDGF provided their most recent 
Zuni bluehead sucker annual report that was used to update population 
status of the Zuni bluehead sucker in the Zuni River watershed. Please 
refer to the Population Status of the Species in New Mexico section, 
above.
    (6) Comment: Prior to 1991, catch data were not standardized by 
effort (catch per unit effort) and cannot be compared with catch data 
that was standardized.

[[Page 43142]]

Conclusions derived from comparisons of data prior to 1991 are 
methodologically erroneous.
    Our Response: As stated within the Population Status of the Species 
in New Mexico section, we acknowledge both the correct and incorrect 
use of catch per unit effort data. While catch per unit effort is 
valuable for assessing population trends over time and assessing 
species' status, this metric does not allow us to develop overall 
population estimates for the species. We have revised this discussion 
and added additional language for accuracy and clarification.
    (7) Comment: Historical population data are not provided for Zuni 
bluehead sucker habitat in New Mexico, and, therefore, the effect of 
habitat loss on the species' populations is unknowable; a 90 percent 
reduction in habitat does not unequivocally suggest any significant 
loss to population. In addition, the Service makes no remark on the 
suitability of the lost habitat.
    Our Response: Since the proposed rule, the Service has acknowledged 
that we do not know the historical range for the Kinlichee Creek 
watershed of the Little Colorado River watershed in Arizona. However, 
based on available maps and survey information, we estimate the present 
range of the Zuni bluehead sucker in New Mexico to be approximately 5 
percent or less of its historical range, and the status of the species 
within the occupied areas range from common to absent (see Population 
Status of the Species in New Mexico section). Habitat loss and range 
reduction is directly related to loss of populations given that the 
species was historically found in habitats that are no longer suitable 
and the Zuni bluehead sucker are now absent in those habitats. In 
addition, we have included language within the Population Status of the 
Species in New Mexico section to remark on the suitability of habitat 
where the Zuni bluehead sucker is absent.
    (8) Comment: Without a clear definition of the subspecies and the 
populations that comprise that subspecies, the Service does not have 
adequate information to clearly state this subspecies warrants 
protection under the Act.
    Our Response: Our evaluation of morphological and genetic 
information supports the recognition of the Zuni bluehead sucker as 
being distinct from both the Rio Grande sucker and the bluehead sucker 
(Smith 1966, pp. 87-90; Smith et al. 1983, pp. 37-38; Crabtree and Buth 
1987, p. 843; Propst 1999, p. 49). Based on our review of the best 
available scientific and commercial data, we conclude that the Zuni 
bluehead sucker is a valid subspecies. As discussed in the ``Taxonomy 
and Genetics'' section we have assessed all populations that comprise 
the Zuni bluehead sucker.
    (9) Comment: The Service does not adequately understand the 
contemporary and historical distribution of the Zuni bluehead sucker to 
assert that the Zuni bluehead sucker is in danger of extinction 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
    Our Response: We used the best scientific and commercial data 
available to understand the contemporary and historical distribution of 
the Zuni bluehead sucker. This included articles published in peer-
reviewed journals, data collected by the Service and data collected by 
NMDGF. Please refer to the ``Distribution'' section for an explanation 
of the contemporary and historical distribution of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker.
    (10) Comment: The Service exaggerates the level of threat to Zuni 
bluehead sucker resulting from exotic species. The limited geographic 
distribution and rarity of the nonnative species in the Zuni River 
watershed serve to lessen their widespread impact to the Zuni bluehead 
sucker.
    Our Response: The Zuni bluehead sucker occurs only in stream and 
spring habitats that are comparatively free of nonnative fishes. The 
Zuni bluehead sucker has coexisted with several introduced piscivorous 
(primarily eats fish) nonnative fish (e.g., sunfish, northern pike, and 
largemouth bass). However, several surveys and reports have provided 
evidence that Zuni bluehead sucker are low or absent in the presence of 
piscivorous nonnative fishes (Hanson 1980, p. 2; Propst and Hobbes 
1996, pp. 38-39, Propst et al. 2001, p. 162; Carman 2008, p. 17). In 
addition, we have provided additional information regarding effects of 
exotic crayfish on benthic fishes within the ``Factor C: Disease and 
Predation'' section.
    (11) Comment: The Service fails to consider the adequacy of all 
relevant and applicable existing mechanisms that provide protection for 
the Zuni bluehead sucker in New Mexico. In addition, the Service fails 
to incorporate analysis of the 2004 New Mexico Game and Fish 
Department's Zuni bluehead sucker recovery plan in the proposed 
listing.
    Our Response: In response to this comment, we added language within 
the ``State Regulation'' section. We acknowledge the NMDGF developed a 
recovery plan for the Zuni bluehead sucker in 2004 (NMDGF 2004, 
entire). The objective of the recovery plan is that, by 2015, the 
populations and distribution of the Zuni bluehead sucker are sufficient 
to ensure its persistence within New Mexico and thereby warrant its 
removal from the State endangered species list. The recovery plan does 
not restrict activities that would be likely to adversely affect the 
species or its habitat and, likewise, does not require activities that 
would be likely to benefit the species or its habitat; however, the 
recovery plan and implementation has vital information on the Zuni 
bluehead sucker. As noted above, the State's recovery plan does not 
ensure any long-term protection for the Zuni bluehead sucker because 
there are no mandatory elements or funding dedicated to ensure the 
recovery plan is implemented. In addition, NMDGF's does not have the 
authorization to restrict proposed projects that may adversely affect 
these species or their habitat.

Comments From Navajo Nation

    (12) Comment: The genetic information does not support the 
assertion by the Service that bluehead sucker populations in the Chuska 
Mountains (referred to in the listing rule as Canyon de Chelly) and 
Defiance Plateau (referred to as Kinlichee Creek watershed) should be 
identified as Zuni bluehead sucker populations; rather, these 
populations may be a unique variation of bluehead sucker. It is 
necessary to conduct peer-reviewed publication of a genetic analysis of 
these bluehead suckers and to include a morphological study to 
determine the taxon of the suckers.
    Our Response: Based on our updated analysis, which includes 
information received since the publication of the proposed rule, the 
best scientific and commercial information available on taxonomy and 
genetics of Zuni bluehead suckers supports that the bluehead sucker 
populations in the Canyon de Chelly watershed are not Zuni bluehead 
sucker. Thus, we no longer consider the bluehead suckers in the Canyon 
de Chelly watershed of the Lower San Juan River watershed at the border 
of Arizona and New Mexico to be Zuni bluehead suckers. Please refer to 
the ``Taxonomy and Genetics'' section, and response to Comment 3.
    Alternatively, based on our assessment of the best scientific and 
commercial information available, the literature supports the presence 
of Zuni bluehead sucker on Navajo Nation in the Kinlichee Creek 
watershed. Smith et al. (1983, pp. 38, 42) identified samples collected 
from Kinlichee Creek as Zuni bluehead sucker, primarily based on 
morphological similarities to Zuni

[[Page 43143]]

bluehead suckers found in the Rio Nutria.
    At the time of the proposed listing rule and the 6-month extension 
notice, we specifically solicited peer review from knowledgeable 
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with 
the subspecies, the geographic region in which the subspecies occurs, 
and taxonomy of the subspecies. Additionally, we requested comments or 
information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American 
Tribes, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested 
parties concerning the proposed rule. Comments and information we 
received helped inform this final rule. We used multiple sources of 
information, including: Results of numerous surveys, peer-reviewed 
literature, unpublished reports by scientists and biological 
consultants, geospatial analysis, and expert opinion from biologists 
with experience studying the subspecies. This information constitutes 
the best scientific and commercial data available and has been 
incorporated into this final listing rule.
    (13) Comment: More genetic markers need to be reviewed to make an 
accurate decision on what populations should and should not be 
identified as Zuni bluehead suckers.
    Our Response: We are charged with using the best scientific and 
commercially available information in a listing determination. We 
acknowledge that additional research would be valuable; however, we are 
required by law to use the best information currently available for the 
species. The Act requires that we adhere to a timeframe in developing 
our determination and we do not have the funding or authority to delay 
our determination in order to conduct studies to collect empirical data 
on each topic of discussion.
    (14) Comment: The Navajo Nation does not consider logging to be a 
threat to their bluehead suckers and provided information regarding the 
Navajo Nation 10-year Forest Management Plan (Navajo Nation 2000, 
entire).
    Our Response: We have incorporated the Navajo Nation 10-year Forest 
Management Plan within the Tribal Regulations section. The Navajo 
Nation 10-year Forest Management Plan will reduce this threat in the 
Kinlichee Creek watershed, where logging prescriptions are in place to 
protect the riparian areas. However, this plan does not provide 
protection from other threats to the species, and it does not provide 
protection to the species throughout the entirety of its range 
(specifically in the Zuni River watershed).
    (15) Comment: The Navajo Nation identified several publications to 
support their assertion that the bluehead suckers on the Navajo Nation 
(Kinlichee Creek watershed and Canyon de Chelly watershed) are not Zuni 
bluehead suckers. The following citations were provided:
    a. Crabtree and Buth (1987, entire) looked at sucker allozymes and 
determined that the Kinlichee Creek population of suckers was bluehead 
suckers rather than Zuni bluehead suckers.
    b. Hopken et al. (2013, entire) determined that the Canyon de 
Chelly population of suckers is bluehead suckers and not Zuni bluehead 
suckers.
    c. Douglas et al. (2009, entire) determined that the populations of 
suckers found within the area of Navajo Nation are bluehead suckers, 
not Zuni bluehead suckers.
    d. Smith et al. (1983, entire) determined Canyon de Chelly and 
Whiskey Creek suckers are not Zuni bluehead sucker.
    Our Response: Hopken et al. (2013, entire) and Douglas et al. 
(2009, entire) are the same studies using the same genetic samples and 
analysis. Both of their studies included genetic samples from bluehead 
sucker found in the Canyon de Chelly watershed only. As noted 
previously, the Canyon de Chelly taxon has been attributed to the 
bluehead sucker and not the Zuni bluehead sucker in this final listing 
rule. During our review of Crabtree and Buth (1987, entire), we 
understand that they identified fish from Kinlichee Creek as Zuni 
bluehead sucker based on the expression of several unique allozymes 
that were genetically distinct from bluehead sucker or Rio Grande 
suckers (Crabtree and Buth 1987, pp. 843, 848, Table 2, 852). Crabtree 
and Buth (1987, pp. 851-852) suggested that the genetic interaction 
between the Rio Grande sucker and bluehead sucker is limited to the 
upper Rio Nutria populations in the Zuni River watershed. However, 
Crabtree and Buth (1987, p. 852) state that the Zuni bluehead sucker is 
a distinct subspecies regardless of its genetic interaction with the 
Rio Grande sucker. Smith et al. (1983, entire) could not genetically 
distinguish the bluehead sucker from Kinlichee Creek or Whiskey Creek; 
however, they attributed their taxon recognition of Zuni bluehead 
sucker based on morphological similarities between the Kinlichee Creek 
watershed and Zuni River watershed. Please refer to the ``Taxonomy and 
Genetics'' for more information.
Public Comments
    (16) Comment: There could be implications imposed on the rights of 
private property owners as a result of the listing rule.
    Our Response: The Act requires that we make listing determinations 
``solely on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial 
data available'' (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(1)(A)). The Act does not allow 
listing to be avoided based on the potential for perceived economic 
benefits or burdens that may result from the listing. Listing a species 
as threatened or endangered does not revoke constitutionally protected 
property rights (see the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). 
Executive Order 12630 (Government Actions and Interference with 
Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights) requires that we 
analyze the potential takings implications of designating critical 
habitat for a species in a takings implications assessment.
    (17) Comment: Listing the Zuni bluehead sucker would limit State 
agencies' ability to manage for this species. Management of species by 
the Federal Government is unlikely to improve the status of the 
species.
    Our Response: The potential efficacy of a listing action to 
conserve a species cannot be considered in making the listing decision. 
The Service must make its determination based on a consideration of the 
factors affecting the species, utilizing only the best scientific and 
commercial information available, and is not able to consider other 
factors or impacts. Listing recognizes the status of the species and 
invokes protection and considerations under the Act, including 
regulatory provisions, consideration of Federal activities that may 
affect the species, and potential critical habitat designation. In 
addition, the Service will develop a recovery plan. The recovery plan 
will likely identify both State and Federal efforts for conservation of 
these species and establish a framework for agencies and stakeholders 
to coordinate activities and cooperate with each other in conservation 
efforts. The plan will set recovery priorities and describe site-
specific management actions necessary to achieve conservation and 
survival of the Zuni bluehead sucker. Thereby, with the help of 
Federal, State, Tribal, and private partners, we can develop 
conservation measures to improve the status of the species.
    (18) Comment: The basis for determining whether the species is 
endangered or threatened appears to have been present in 1996, when the

[[Page 43144]]

species was no longer listed as a candidate species. As such, it would 
appear that listing is as unwarranted now as it was in 1996.
    Our Response: Prior to 1996, the Zuni bluehead sucker was 
considered a Category 2 candidate species. This designation meant a 
species for which we had information that proposed listing was possibly 
appropriate, but conclusive data on biological vulnerability and 
threats were not available to support a proposed rule at the time. In 
1996, however, we discontinued the designation of Category 2 species as 
candidates, and all existing Category 2 candidates were removed from 
the candidate list. As stated in the Previous Federal Actions section 
of both the proposed and final rules, the Zuni bluehead sucker was 
again added to the candidate list in 2001 (66 FR 54807, October 20, 
2001). A candidate species is one for which we have on file sufficient 
information on biological vulnerability and threats to support a 
proposal for listing as endangered or threatened, but for which 
preparation and publication of a proposal is precluded by higher 
priority listing actions. We have analyzed the threats to the species 
based upon the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. We 
have determined based on our analysis of threats discussed below in the 
section Summary of Factors Affecting the Species that the Zuni bluehead 
sucker is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range.
    (19) Comment: It is unclear whether all historical and currently 
occupied areas have been surveyed.
    Our Response: A complete overview of the available survey data for 
the Zuni bluehead sucker is reported in the ``Distribution'' section, 
above. All known historical and currently occupied areas have been 
sampled extensively in New Mexico by NMDGF and its partners. During the 
development of this rulemaking, the Service and the Navajo Nation 
initiated surveys to sample all known historical and currently occupied 
habitats, as well as previously unsurveyed areas of habitat for the 
Zuni bluehead sucker in Arizona and New Mexico. This information has 
been added to the ``Distribution'' section above.
    (20) Comment: In the proposed rule, the Service assumes that there 
was historically continuous flow in both the Little Colorado River and 
Zuni River watersheds. However, there is no information offered in the 
rule to substantiate this assumption.
    Our Response: During the last glaciation period (15 to 24 thousand 
years ago) the region where the Zuni bluehead sucker is found was much 
wetter (Thompson et al. 1983, p. 498; Wagner et al. 2010, p. 111). 
There was sufficient precipitation and runoff to sustain a large lake 
on the San Agustin plain (Allen 2005, p. 112). Under similar 
precipitation conditions today, watersheds occupied by Zuni bluehead 
sucker would have been perennial. Thus, based on the best scientific 
and commercial data available, we believe that, historically, there was 
continuous flow in both watersheds.
    (21) Comment: In the rule, the Service assumes that there would not 
be erosion without logging or other activities on the land. However, it 
is widely known that erosion is directly related to the structure of 
the soils being more erosive than others, causing sedimentation even in 
environments that are only affected by the natural elements. As such, 
it is inappropriate to blame stream sedimentation on logging activities 
without acknowledging that erosion is normal and the extent to which it 
increases is influenced by many factors, only one of which could be by 
harvest activities which are undertaken to reduce wildfire risk.
    Our Response: We acknowledge that both natural and anthropogenic 
processes can cause erosion. Changes in erosion rates can result from 
natural causes, such as soil conditions that are highly susceptible to 
erosion, or these changes may result from historical land-use practices 
that minimize grass and tree cover, making current conditions more 
susceptible to erosion. We encourage implementation of best management 
practices today that can reduce or improve erosional conditions. We 
need the help of private and public land managers to implement these 
practices to improve the watershed conditions where the Zuni bluehead 
sucker occurs.
    (22) Comment: The Service should take immediate action to implement 
conservation measures to protect the Zuni bluehead sucker.
    Our Response: The final listing of any species imposes some 
restrictions on activities that may impact the species (i.e., water 
development, forestry management). As outlined in Section 9 of the Act 
and our Interagency Cooperative Policy for Endangered Species Act 
Section 9 Prohibitions (July 1, 1994; 59 FR 34272), ``take'' of species 
listed as endangered or threatened is prohibited. Take is defined as 
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or 
collect, or attempt any of these, import, export, ship in interstate 
commerce in the course of commercial activity, or sell or offer for 
sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. We 
identified in the proposed rule those activities that we believe would 
or would not constitute a violation of the prohibitions identified in 
section 9 of the Act. The final Federal listing of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker under the Act requires that Federal agencies consult with the 
Service on activities involving Federal funding, a Federal permit, 
Federal authorization, or other Federal actions. Consultation (under 
section 7 of the Act) is required when activities have the potential to 
affect the Zuni bluehead sucker or designated critical habitat. The 
consultation will analyze and determine to what degree the species is 
impacted by the proposed action. Section 7 of the Act prohibits actions 
funded, authorized, or carried out by Federal agencies from 
jeopardizing the continued existence of a listed species or destroying 
or adversely modifying the listed species' critical habitat. Therefore, 
restriction or mitigation for certain activities may be appropriate if 
identified during a section 7 consultation, where a Federal nexus 
exists.
    In addition, management recommendations as may be necessary to 
achieve conservation and survival of the species can also be addressed 
through recovery planning efforts. Under section 4(f)(1) of the Act, we 
are required to develop and implement plans for the conservation and 
survival of endangered and threatened species, unless the Secretary of 
the Interior finds that such a plan will not promote the conservation 
of the species. We will move to accomplish these tasks as soon as 
feasible.
    (23) Comment: The proposed listing of a subspecies is unscientific 
and unwarranted.
    Our Response: Section 3 of the Act provides definitions for the 
purposes of the Act. As stated in section 3(16), the term ``species'' 
includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants. The Zuni 
bluehead sucker is recognized by the biological community as a valid 
subspecies, and thus, meets the definition of a species under the Act. 
Therefore, it is appropriate for the Service to evaluate the Zuni 
bluehead sucker for listing under the Act.
    (24) Comment: The proposed rule does not clarify which Tampico 
Spring is being referenced where the Zuni bluehead sucker are known to 
occur.
    Our Response: We have added language to clarify that the Tampico 
Spring occupied by Zuni bluehead suckers occurs on private land on the 
west side of the Oso Ridge and is not identified on a topographic map. 
This Tampico Spring should not be confused

[[Page 43145]]

with the Tampico Spring on the east side of Oso Ridge identified on 
topographic maps and located on public land,. Please see New Mexico 
Distribution section for the description of Tampico Spring.
    (25) Comment: The proposed rule states that, in 2001, NMDGF 
received permission from the landowner to conduct sampling at Tampico 
Spring for the first time since 1994. Zuni bluehead sucker were removed 
from Tampico Spring by the Service, NMDGF, and Albuquerque Biopark 
biologists. The proposal claims the rate of catch at Tampico Spring 
subsequently declined. Was the cause of the decline the removal of 
specimen, electrofishing, or the introduction of organisms that may 
have been on the sampling gear, the buckets, or the waders?
    Our Response: As stated in the Population Status of the Species in 
New Mexico section, Tampico Spring and all other occupied areas of Zuni 
bluehead sucker in the Zuni River watershed have all seen a period of 
decline. However, all catch rates for the Zuni bluehead sucker have 
shown improvement in the 2012 survey efforts. The observed decline of 
the population was not an artifact of fish removal, electrofishing, or 
an introduced organism. We know this because approximately 50 
individuals were collected from Tampico Spring between 2007 and 2008 
(NMDGF 2013, p. 33), and Zuni bluehead suckers have been spawning and 
producing offspring (NMDGF 2013, p. 23). Electrofishing can be lethal, 
but, when used properly, potentially harmful effects of electrofishing 
are significantly reduced and mortality is minimal. We are unaware of 
any introduced organism in Tampico Spring, and it is common practice to 
disinfect waders and fish collection gear to reduce the chance of 
introduction of any organism to a system. We do not have a direct link 
for the observed decline, other than it is likely a combination of 
factors, such as the habitat being inundated with silt; furthermore, 
the population exhibits facial deformities, and whether that effects 
survival is unknown.
    (26) Comment: We received comments regarding the correct use of 
scientific literature in the livestock grazing section of the proposed 
rule and whether the documents were unbiased. In addition, it is not 
clear how Larsen et al. (1998, entire) can be used as a reference to 
support the statement that livestock grazing causes adverse impacts to 
native fishes and their habitat because the reference shows that Larsen 
questions the defensibility of the wealth of the literature on 
livestock grazing. Thus, it seems the literature exhibits personal 
opinion or commentary interspersed with little scientifically valid 
experimentation.
    Our Response: We are charged with using the best scientific and 
commercially available information in a listing determination. The 
discussion on livestock grazing in the proposed and final rules cites 
many studies and authors on the topic of livestock grazing impacts to 
aquatic systems. Although some of our citations are not specific to 
this species or the geographic area, the citations offer evidence that 
certain threats exist because similar examples have been documented 
elsewhere, and, based on biological principles and effects observed in 
other fishes, we can draw reasonable conclusions about what we would 
expect to happen to this species. It is well understood in the 
scientific community that improper grazing has impacts on stream 
habitat and fish communities. We have added or modified several of the 
livestock grazing citations to reflect effects of livestock grazing on 
fish habitats and populations.
    We have also made some changes in the livestock grazing section of 
the final rule in direct response to the commenter's question on the 
incorporation of Larsen et al. (1998, entire). Larsen et al. (1998, pp. 
161, 164) was an incorrect use for the specific statement the commenter 
referenced, and, in fact, the page numbers do not match with that 
publication. This citation was removed from the final rule. Although 
Larsen et al. 1998 (p. 664) concludes that the base of the commonly 
accepted body of knowledge of livestock influences on riparian zones 
and fish habitat is made up of many reports that are not experimentally 
or statistically adequate, the authors were able to generalize several 
points from their literature review. These generalizations include: (1) 
It is clear that livestock or big game can and do coexist within 
sustainable riparian systems; likewise, livestock and big game can and 
sometimes do change riparian vegetation structure in undesirable ways; 
(2) Vegetation responses are highly site specific; and (3) Ecosystems 
are highly variable in space and time. Most driving forces that change 
ecosystems seem to result from interactions of factors (Larsen et al. 
1998, p. 664). Therefore, based on the generalization, livestock 
grazing impacts are site-specific and can be exacerbated by other 
factors in the environment.
    (27) Comment: The citation used for the conclusion paragraph for 
historical logging, overgrazing by livestock, and road construction 
does not have a single empirical data point to support the conclusion.
    Our Response: We are charged with using the best scientific and 
commercially available information in a rule. We acknowledge that 
additional research would be valuable; however, the Act requires that 
we use the best information currently available for the species or 
similar species. The Act requires that we adhere to a timeframe in 
developing our determination, and we do not have the funding or 
authority to conduct studies to collect empirical data on each topic of 
discussion. We have updated and included additional information in the 
``Summary of Factors Affecting the Species'' in which we describe the 
types of land management practices (logging, livestock grazing, and 
road construction) both in the past and present that have influenced 
the landscape inhabited by the Zuni bluehead sucker. In addition, we 
provide information related to these land management practices that 
have been seen to influence many fish species and their habitats. We 
will need the help of private and public land managers to implement 
best management practices to improve conditions where the Zuni bluehead 
sucker occurs. This may include the need to increase the genetic 
diversity by introducing other Zuni bluehead suckers into the system to 
increase diversity as we have done for other fish species.
    (28) Comment: The proposal cites Miller (1961, pp. 394-395) in the 
discussion of grazing and erosion, but it would have been better to 
have embraced the following citation from Miller (1961, p. 398):
    ``The use of toxic chemicals, such as rotenone and toxaphene, for 
the control or eradication of fish populations may have serious 
consequences for the native species. Such a management tool is being 
employed more and more widely in the control of ``rough fish''; without 
prior determination of its harmful effects, this practice may 
needlessly exterminate localized species or relict populations (see 
above and Koster, 1957: 106). Its relatively indiscriminate use in 
streams has already reduced certain native fishes to dangerously low 
levels or has seemingly brought about extinction (Clark Hubbs. In 
litt., 1960). Conservationists should make a determined effort to 
prevent the decimation of aquatic biota in this way, if necessary 
through the enactment of protective legislation.''
    Our Response: In the New Mexico Distribution Section, we 
acknowledge that Zuni bluehead sucker numbers have been starkly reduced 
in the Zuni

[[Page 43146]]

River watershed in New Mexico, largely due to 27 chemical treatments 
during the 1960s. The past use of chemical treatments in the 1960s and 
1970s has affected the Zuni bluehead sucker; however, going forward, 
the use of chemical treatments can be beneficial to native fishes if 
used properly. As Miller suggests, ``Conservationists should make a 
determined effort to prevent the decimation of aquatic biota . . .'' 
and as a practice when the Service is conducting nonnative fish 
eradication, we collect and hold native fishes for reintroduction until 
the chemical treatment is complete.
    (29) Comment: The ``Water Withdrawal'' section of the proposed rule 
does not have any empirical data, and the citations used are not 
relevant to the Zuni bluehead sucker or the Zuni River watershed. How 
do agricultural and industrial water needs compare to vacation home 
needs?
    Our Response: Our assessment that water withdrawal is a threat to 
the Zuni bluehead sucker is based on the best scientific and commercial 
data available. We reviewed articles published in peer-reviewed 
journals, agency reports, and comments received on both the proposed 
rule and the 6-month extension of the final determination. Some of our 
citations are not specific to this species or the geographic area; 
nevertheless, we can ascertain that water withdrawal can have negative 
impacts on the Zuni bluehead sucker and their habitat. The ``Water 
Withdrawal'' section assesses all sources of water withdrawal, 
including agriculture, livestock, mining, and municipal water use. The 
majority of the water within the Lower Colorado River Basin in New 
Mexico is consumed for agriculture and mining; however, additional uses 
include domestic (self-supplied) and public water supply (New Mexico 
Office of the State Engineer 2010, p. 1). As stated in Orr (1987, p. 
1), the population of the Pueblo of Zuni was increasing rapidly and, 
thus, increasing the need for additional municipal and domestic water 
supplies; therefore, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a 
comprehensive water-resources study on Zuni Tribal lands. The results 
of this study identified that several aquifers' water-levels were in 
decline during a 10-year period, which could be the result of pumping 
for well withdrawals (Orr 1987, pp. 42-44). The consumption of water 
within the Lower Colorado River Basin through various sources has 
increased by as much as 56 percent between 1990 and 2005 (New Mexico 
Office of the State Engineer 1990, p. 1; New Mexico Office of the State 
Engineer 2005, p. 1). Based on our review of the available information, 
we conclude that the effects of water withdrawal are a continuing 
threat to the Zuni bluehead sucker habitat across its range and, as a 
result, are negatively affecting the species. We used these examples in 
the rule to depict how water withdrawals for agriculture and mining 
have impacted flow to rivers or springs. Water withdrawal within the 
range of the Zuni bluehead sucker is not just the result of vacation 
homes (see description above), but is the result of a culmination of 
municipal, agricultural, and livestock activities.
    (30) Comment: The hydrological studies referenced by the 2011 Final 
Environmental Impact Statement by the U.S. Forest Service for the 
Forest Roads 191 and 191D project indicates minimal anticipated impact 
on the discharge into the Rio Nutria even in a worst-case scenario.
    Our Response: The U.S. Forest Service (2011, p. 32) states that 
MJDarrconsult, Inc. (2007, entire) and Glorieta Geoscience, Inc. (2007, 
entire) show a small amount of drawdown, from 0.03 to 0.04 meters (m) 
(0.09 to 0.14 feet (ft)), could occur at Nutria Springs. However, 
neither model takes into account current natural recharge or return 
flow, and, when either of these factors is considered, the drawdown 
predicted at Nutria Springs becomes negligible (Congdon, 2009, entire). 
As discussed in the ``Climate Change'' section below, the outlook 
presented for the Southwest predicts warmer, drier, drought-like 
conditions (Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181; Hoerling and Eischeid 2007, p. 
19). A decline in water resources will be a significant factor in the 
compromised watersheds of the Desert Southwest, ultimately affecting 
the future natural recharges rates for aquifers.
    (31) Comment: There is no empirical data that connects 
sedimentation with adverse effects on the Zuni bluehead sucker, and the 
citations used in the ``Sedimentation'' section of the proposed rule 
are questionable. Much of the language used is the section uses the 
word ``may'', which characterizes many of the statements as a yet-to-
be-tested hypothesis.
    Our Response: Please see the response to comment 27 regarding 
empirical data. We are charged with using the best scientific and 
commercially available information in a rule. We have added additional 
language in the ``Sedimentation'' section to describe known impacts of 
sedimentation on fishes and fish habitats. Although these examples are 
not species-specific, we can ascertain that similar effects may occur 
for the Zuni bluehead sucker. We are using the best scientific and 
commercial information available and that information can sometimes 
only lead us to a ``may'' conclusion rather than a definitive 
statement.
    (32) Comment: Does the existence of the inbred colonies at Agua 
Remora and Tampico Springs, with their mutations and limited genetic 
diversity, pose a threat to the overall survival of the subspecies? 
Fish from the Rio Nutria cannot travel upstream past the waterfall 
barriers. But mutated fish from the Agua Remora and Tampico Springs can 
be washed downstream with seasonal runoff. These fish can then breed 
with the main population and introduce their mutated genes into the Rio 
Nutria population. Would that fertilization then reduce the survival 
rate of the Rio Nutria population over time? Has a decline in the 
population in the Rio Nutria already been observed?
    Our Response: A species relies on genetic diversity to survive, and 
low diversity usually indicates that the population has been inbreeding 
due to a decrease in populations, which is described in the ``Taxonomy 
and Genetics'' section. We have determined that small population sizes 
and limited genetic diversity are a concern for the Zuni bluehead 
sucker viability. This is why the New Mexico Department of Game and 
Fish funded research efforts to look at the genetic diversity of the 
Zuni bluehead sucker in the Zuni River watershed and established a 
captive rearing program. Zuni bluehead sucker both from Aqua Remora and 
Tampico Spring are successfully reproducing in captivity. In addition, 
these populations were combined and successfully reproduced as well. We 
will need help of private and public land managers to implement 
management practice to improve conditions where the Zuni bluehead 
sucker occurs. This may include the need to increase the genetic 
diversity by introducing other Zuni bluehead suckers into the system to 
increase diversity as done for other fish species. We do not anticipate 
the mixing of these populations to be a threat because, if the 
population mixed, it may increase the genetic diversity. In addition, 
as described in the ``Population Status of the Species in New Mexico'' 
section, Rio Nutria has experienced declines since the 1970s, as have 
all other locations in the Zuni River watershed. However, the Zuni 
bluehead sucker does appear to be on the rise in Rio Nutria.

Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

    Based upon our review of the public comments, comments from State 
and

[[Page 43147]]

Tribal agencies, peer review comments, and any new relevant information 
that may have been available since the publication of the proposal, we 
reevaluated our proposed rule and made changes as appropriate. During 
the open comment periods, we were asked to incorporate additional 
information, which was provided or suggested, and to provide 
clarification in some areas. We have added both additional and 
clarifying language regarding our understanding of water withdrawal, 
sedimentation, logging, livestock grazing, and housing development. We 
also added additional language to Factor D regarding existing 
conservation plans and agreements, including the New Mexico Zuni 
bluehead sucker recovery plan (NMDGF 2004, entire). Navajo Nation 
provided substantial information regarding several plans and policies 
that have been developed by the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and 
Wildlife, the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, and the 
Navajo Nation Forestry Department. All of these plans and policies have 
been incorporated into the Tribal Regulations section in Factor D.
    During the two comment periods on the proposed rule and the 6-month 
extension, the Service received additional information, clarification, 
and comment to assist with identifying populations of Zuni bluehead 
sucker based on taxonomy and genetics. The Service has provided 
substantial information within the ``Taxonomy and Genetics'' section of 
the rule above. The information incorporated above clarifies which 
populations are considered Zuni bluehead sucker based on information 
received since the publication of the proposed rule. We are charged 
with using the best scientific and commercially available information 
relevant to the taxonomy and genetics and have incorporated this new 
information into this rule to substantiate the identified populations 
of the Zuni bluehead sucker. However, this information has also removed 
populations from the Canyon de Chelly watershed in the Lower San Juan 
River watershed from this final listing rule because these populations 
have been identified as bluehead sucker and not Zuni bluehead sucker. 
This additional information did not alter our threats assessment, but 
rather confirms that the Service's determination of endangered status 
is appropriate because fewer geographically isolated populations exist 
than previously proposed and threats remain high across those 
populations.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; and (E) other natural or manmade 
factors affecting its continued existence. Listing actions may be 
warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in 
combination. Each of these factors is discussed below.

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

    The principal threats to Zuni bluehead sucker habitat include water 
withdrawal, sedimentation, impoundments, housing development, wildfire, 
and climate change. These threats are intensified by the species' small 
range. Severe degradation to watersheds occupied by Zuni bluehead 
sucker has occurred through excessive timber harvest, overgrazing, and 
road construction. Although most of these activities occurred in the 
late 1800s and early 1900s, the subsequent erosion, gullying, 
headcutting (an erosional feature of some intermittent or perennial 
streams where an abrupt vertical drop occurs in the stream bed creating 
a steep riffle zone or waterfall that continues to erode), and loss of 
water have continued to degrade habitat for the Zuni bluehead sucker 
(as discussed in detail below) (Natural Resources Conservation Service 
(NRCS) 1998, entire).
Water Withdrawal
    Surface and groundwater withdrawal result in the direct loss of 
habitat as well as fragmentation of Zuni bluehead sucker habitat by 
reducing stream flow or water depth. Reduced stream velocities result 
in increased sedimentation, while overall loss of wetted habitat 
strands Zuni bluehead suckers in isolated shallow pools that may not 
provide suitable hard substrates for feeding and reproduction. Loss of 
appropriate habitat may decrease the reproductive success of Zuni 
bluehead sucker and result in mortality of individuals. Historically, 
water withdrawals led to the conversion of large portions of flowing 
streams to intermittent streams or dewatered channels, thus eliminating 
suitable Zuni bluehead sucker habitat in affected areas (NMDGF 2004, p. 
12). Water withdrawals that lead to dewatering or reduced river flows 
or pool levels reduce the available habitat for the species.
    Groundwater withdrawal can cause reduction or loss of spring flow 
(Brune 2002, p. 356). Within the Zuni River watershed, various springs 
occur across Zuni Pueblo lands (Orr 1987, p. 37; Drakos and Riesterer 
2009, p. 96). Discharge from these springs feeds into several 
intermittent streams in the watershed, including the Zuni River, the 
Rio Pescado, and the Rio Nutria. These streams flow intermittently, 
except for short reaches that flow perennially in response to discharge 
from springs (Orr 1978, p. 37; NMDGF 2013, p. 9). Because spring 
ecosystems rely on water discharged to the surface from underground 
aquifers, groundwater depletion can result in the destruction of 
riverine habitat through spring drying (Scudday 1977, pp. 515-516). 
Spring drying or flow reduction resulting from groundwater pumping has 
also been documented in the Roswell (August 9, 2005; 70 FR 46304) and 
Mimbres Basins (Summers 1976, pp. 62, 65) of New Mexico. Orr's (1987, 
pp. 42-44) study identified that several aquifers' water levels were in 
decline during a 10-year period where pumping from well withdrawals may 
have been the cause. In addition, spring flow found on Zuni Tribal 
lands generally declined between 1972 and 2009 (Drakos and Riesterer 
2009, p. 96). By definition, a spring is the result of an aquifer being 
filled to the point that water overflows onto the land surface. 
Therefore, if enough water is pumped out of an aquifer it could 
possibly influence ground water discharge (springs and streams) by 
reducing, or perhaps stopping, streamflow. The lowermost pool in Agua 
Remora had reduced water depths in 2005 and nearly dried in 2007 and 
2009; Zuni bluehead suckers were salvaged from this area and moved 
upstream to the middle pool or taken to the Albuquerque Bio Park for a 
rearing program (Carman 2008, p. 17; Carman 2009, p. 24). However, it 
is unknown whether this observed reduction in water depths is a product 
of groundwater pumping in the area, effects of climate change, or both.
    Groundwater use in the range of the Zuni bluehead sucker is 
expected to increase due to human population expansion. In early 2007, 
a development company (Tampico Springs 3000, LLC), presented a 
preliminary plat to

[[Page 43148]]

McKinley County, New Mexico, for Tampico Springs Ranch Subdivision. The 
subdivision is located just northeast of currently occupied Zuni 
bluehead sucker habitat. The subdivision would have a total of 490 
lots, varying from 1.2 to 4.8 hectares (ha) (3 to 11.9 acres (ac)), 
each with an individual well and septic system. An increase in the 
number of wells would affect aquifer drawdowns, and individual septic 
tanks could potentially lead to water quality concerns. The 
geohydrologic investigation report, prepared for Phase I of the 
subdivision, states that water withdrawal is likely to affect flow at 
Brennan and Tampico Springs (MJDarrconsult, Inc. 2007, p. 26). In 
January 2008, the plat for Phase I of the subdivision was approved by 
McKinley County with conditions, including metering of water wells to 
enforce the 0.3 acre-ft. per year per household restriction (Carman 
2008, p. 17). Construction of Phase I has begun, with 17 of 45 lots 
sold (First United Realty 2012, p. 1).
    In Arizona, existing water withdrawals throughout the Navajo Indian 
Reservation are generally for water haulers (people who collect water 
in tanks and transport it to another location for use); domestic and 
municipal use; water storage facilities; commercial, agricultural, 
mining and industry uses; recreation and wildlife; and wastewater 
management. Water withdrawals have been documented on the Navajo Indian 
Reservation for many years. Water levels in wells in the Black Mesa 
area have declined as much as 70 ft (21.3 m) since 1963 (Littin 1992, 
p. 1). As of 2003, there were 75 livestock wells on the Navajo Indian 
Reservation, in both alluvial (connected to the river) and deep-water 
aquifers (Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources 2003, p. 40). 
Additionally, water in Kinlichee Creek has been noted as very low in 
recent years (Kitcheyan and Mata 2012, p. 3), and Scattered Willow 
Wash, Black Soil Wash, and Kinlichee Creek have been intermittent 
several years in a row (Carman 2004, pp. 2, 8; Kitcheyan and Mata 2012, 
p. 3). These low-water events are exacerbated by continued water 
withdrawal in the region. Given past groundwater use and the likelihood 
of continued drought (see Climate Change, below), groundwater declines 
will likely continue into the future.
    In summary, water withdrawals have affected the Zuni bluehead 
sucker rangewide in the past, resulting in dry streambeds or very low 
water levels in the lower Rio Nutria, Rio Pescado, Zuni River, and 
possibly in Agua Remora in New Mexico and in Scattered Willow Wash, and 
Kinlichee Creek in Arizona. Based on our review of the available 
information, we conclude that the effects of water withdrawal are a 
continuing threat to the Zuni bluehead sucker habitat across its range 
and as a result are negatively affecting the species.
Sedimentation
    Sedimentation occurs when particles suspended in the water column 
fall out of suspension and cover the streambed, filling in spaces 
between substrate particles. Sedimentation results in the loss of 
suitable habitat and available food resources for Zuni bluehead sucker. 
Fine sediments, in particular, reduce or prevent production of algae, 
the Zuni bluehead sucker's primary food. Research has shown that heavy 
sediment loads have the potential to limit algae production by 
restricting light penetration or smothering (Graham 1990, pp. 107-109, 
113-114; Wood and Armitage 1997, pp. 203, 209-210).
    High concentrations of fine sediment have been found to affect 
fishes: (1) By adversely affecting fish swimming and either reducing 
their rate growth, tolerance to disease, or even resulting in death 
(Bruton 1985, p. 221); (2) by reducing the suitability of spawning 
habitat and hindering the development of fish eggs, larvae and 
juveniles are more susceptible to suspended solids than adult fish 
(Chapman 1988, p. 15; Moring 1982, p. 297); (3) by modifying the 
natural migration patterns of fish (Alabaster and Lloyd 1982, pp. 2-3); 
(4) by reducing the abundance of food available to fish due to a 
reduction in light penetration (Bruton 1985, p. 231; Gray and Ward 
1982, pp. 177, 183); and (5) by affecting the efficiency of hunting, 
particularly in the case of visual feeders (Bruton 1985, p. 221, 225-
226; Ryan 1991, p. 207). If mobilized during the spawning season, fine 
sediments may also smother and suffocate spawned eggs (Propst and 
Hobbes 1996, p. 39). The reproductive successes of fishes that require 
clean gravel substrate have been reduced by increased sedimentation due 
to smothering of eggs, which may be the case for Zuni bluehead sucker 
(Berkman and Rabeni 1987, p. 285; Propst and Hobbes 1996, p. 38). 
Increasing sedimentation in Agua Remora and Rio Nutria has led to the 
loss of optimal Zuni bluehead sucker habitat (permanent, clear flowing 
water over hard substrate). Sedimentation throughout the range of Zuni 
bluehead sucker is primarily caused by logging, livestock grazing, and 
road construction; these are discussed in detail below.

Logging

    Many areas of the landscape where the Zuni bluehead resides have 
been impacted by past logging activities. For example, in the early 
1890s, logging and presence of logging railroads were widespread within 
the Zuni Mountains, which supported several lumber towns (NRCS 1998, p. 
17). Logging activities in the late-1800s likely caused major changes 
to the watershed; the Zuni Mountains were nearly void of ponderosa pine 
(Pinus ponderosa) during the railroad logging days (Dick-Peddie 1993, 
p. 68). The Mt. Taylor Ranger District identified the forest to be 
dominated with Ponderosa pine and small stands of Gambel oak (Quercus 
gambelii), stratified with mature stands of large conifers left over 
from railroad logging in the early 1900s, including younger and smaller 
trees, as well as saplings (Forest Service 2011, p. 19).
    In general, logging activities have been well documented to impact 
watershed characteristics and stream morphology (Chamberlin et al. 
1991, pp. 181-205; Ohmart 1996, p. 259). Tree removal along stream 
riparian zone likely alters water temperature regimes, sediment 
loading, bank stability, and availability of large woody debris 
(Chamberlin et al. 1991, pp. 181-205). Soil surface erosion from 
logging or logging activities is directly related to the amount of bare 
compacted areas exposed to rainfall and runoff, which then contributes 
large quantities of fine sediments to stream channels (Chamberlin et 
al. 1991, p. 193). Extensive clearcutting and overgrazing were the 
primary contributors to the reduction of the original riparian 
vegetation by 70 to 90 percent in the Zuni Mountains (Ohmart 1996, p. 
259). Logging is actively practiced on both private and public lands 
within the Zuni watershed (NRCS 1998, p. 17). For example, in 2012, the 
Forest Service funded the Zuni Mountain Collaborative Forest Landscape 
Restoration project, which will increase logging to reduce fire risk in 
the Rio Puerco and Rio Nutria watersheds over the next 10 years (Forest 
Service 2012, pp. 1-2). Ultimately, the reduction in fire risk in these 
watersheds is likely to benefit the Zuni bluehead sucker; however, the 
short-term increase in logging is likely to increase sedimentation in 
these watersheds.
    In summary, sedimentation from logging has historically affected 
Zuni bluehead sucker habitat rangewide, reducing the amount of suitable 
habitat. Logging rates have much reduced in recent years but will 
continue into the future, particularly in the Rio Puerco

[[Page 43149]]

and Rio Nutria watersheds over the next decade, which will likely 
contribute to the cumulative effect of sedimentation impacting the Zuni 
bluehead sucker habitat.

Livestock grazing

    Livestock grazing has been one of the most widespread and long-term 
causes of adverse impacts to native fishes and their habitat (Miller 
1961, pp. 394-395, 399; Platts 1991, pp. 389-423; Belsky et al. 1999, 
entire; Medina et al. 2005, pp. 9-98). Widespread livestock grazing and 
logging likely contributed to habitat modifications, resulting in 
severe degradation of the Zuni watershed (Hanson 1982, p. 14; NRCS 
1998, p. 1; NMDGF 2004, p. 12). Livestock grazing has been shown to 
increase soil compaction, decrease water infiltration rates, increase 
runoff, change vegetative species composition, decrease riparian 
vegetation, increase stream sedimentation, increase stream water 
temperature, decrease fish populations, and change channel form (Meehan 
and Platts 1978, pp. 275-276; Kauffman and Krueger 1984, pp. 430-435; 
Schulz and Leininger 1990, p. 295; Platts 1991, pp. 393-403; Ohmart 
1996, pp. 246-274). Although direct impacts to the riparian zone and 
stream can be the most obvious sign of livestock grazing, upland 
watershed condition influences the timing and amount of water delivered 
to stream channels (Ohmart 1996, pp. 260, 268). Increased soil 
compaction and decreased vegetative cover lead to faster delivery of 
water to stream channels, increased peak flows, and lower summer base 
flow (Platts 1991, p. 390; Ohmart 1996, p. 255; Belsky and Blumenthal 
1997, pp. 321, 324). Consequently, streams are more likely to 
experience flood events during monsoon-like weather in summer (water 
runs off quickly instead of soaking into the ground) that negatively 
affects the riparian and aquatic habitats. Therefore, heavily grazed 
streams are more likely to become intermittent or dry in September and 
October, when groundwater recharge is reduced because water runs off 
quickly, rather than being absorbed by the soil (Ohmart 1996, p. 268).
    Improper livestock grazing increases sedimentation through 
trampling of the steam banks and compacting soil, both of which can 
result in a reduction or elimination of riparian vegetation, which can 
be detrimental to stream habitat. Riparian vegetation insulates streams 
from temperature extremes in both summer and winter. Further, it 
filters sediment so that it does not enter the stream; sediment can 
lead to reduction or prevention of algal growth and smothering of newly 
spawned eggs (Propst and Hobbes 1996, p. 38). Riparian vegetation also 
provides a source of nutrients to the stream from leaf litter, which 
increases stream productivity, and it contributes root wads and large 
and small woody debris to the stream, which provide cover for the fish 
(Kauffman and Krueger 1984, pp. 430-431; Platts 1991, pp. 395-400; 
Ohmart 1996, pp. 247-249).
    The Cibola National Forest (Forest) commissioned the Zuni Mountain 
Sucker Habitat Management Plan ``to protect, and to enhance, where 
possible, habitat of threatened and endangered species within the 
confines of the Forest'' (Winter 1979, p. 3). In 1978 and 1979, the 
Forest fenced off Agua Remora from grazing, which resulted in marked 
regrowth of the riparian area (Merkel 1979, p. 15; Stefferud 1985, p. 
1). In 1988, the NMDGF Share with Wildlife program collaborated with 
the Forest to increase the fenced area, doubling the amount of 
protected habitat. However, the fence is occasionally in disrepair 
leading to unauthorized grazing in Agua Remora, and the fence is 
checked only if there is evidence of grazing within Agua Remora. A 
recent field trip to Agua Remora identified that the fence was in 
disrepair, and five cows were on the site; the riparian area had lost 
vegetative cover (Gilbert 2012, p. 1). Elk are also known to frequent 
this area as well (Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 35). Additionally, 
several active grazing allotments are north of Agua Remora, with the 
closest being 2.4 km (1.5 mi) away; livestock grazing also occurs on 
nearby private land.
    During the 1930s, in Arizona, on the Navajo Indian Reservation, 
nearly one million livestock (sheep, goats, horses, or cattle) ranged 
across the landscape, exposing soil and increasing erosion (Weisiger 
2007, p. 440). Grazing continues today throughout the entire Navajo 
Indian Reservation, although herd numbers are much lower than in the 
1930s. Although grazing has been reduced, the continuing drought has 
exacerbated effects of depleted forage, and the livestock numbers are 
considered to be overpopulated, (Davis 2012, p. 1). Additionally, 
cultural resistance to fencing on the Navajo Indian Reservation (Beatty 
Davis 1997, p. 49) creates a challenge for range management and stream 
protection. Direct access to streams and overgrazing by livestock on 
the Navajo Indian Reservation has been documented repeatedly (Sanchez 
1975, p. 1, Service 1982, pp. 3-4; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1995, 
p. 3; Hobbes 2000, p. 14; NMDGF 2003, pp. 6, 13; David 2006, pp. 4, 20; 
Kitcheyan and Mata 2012, p. 3). Overall, both historical and current 
livestock grazing within the riparian zone and upland slopes has 
reduced vegetative cover and accelerated runoff and increased erosion 
in areas such as Tsaile Creek (Bureau of Reclamation 2011, p. 22).
    In summary, Zuni bluehead sucker habitat near or adjacent to areas 
where livestock grazing occurs is significantly impacted. The resulting 
habitat degradation is a threat to the remaining Zuni bluehead sucker 
populations in New Mexico and Arizona. The available information 
indicates that these activities likely contributed to the reduction in 
riparian habitat, channel incision, and increased soil compaction, 
which resulted in unfavorable habitat conditions for Zuni bluehead 
sucker foraging or reproduction. Such unfavorable habitat conditions 
affect populations by reducing their viability. Based on our review of 
the available information, we conclude that the effects of livestock 
grazing are a threat to Zuni bluehead sucker habitat, and the species, 
throughout its entire range.

Road Construction

    Roads increase surface runoff and sedimentation, which, in turn, 
increases turbidity, reduces primary production, and reduces numbers of 
aquatic insects (Burns 1972, p. 1; Eaglin and Hubert 1993, pp. 844-
845). Roads require instream structures, such as culverts and bridges 
that remove aquatic habitat and can act as barriers to fish movement 
(Warren and Pardew 1998, p. 637). As seen with many other fishes and 
environments, all of these activities can negatively impact Zuni 
bluehead suckers and their habitat by lowering water quality, reducing 
the quality and quantity of pools by filling them with sediments, 
reducing the quantity of large woody debris necessary to form pools, 
and by imposing barriers to movement (Burns 1972, p. 1; Eaglin and 
Hubert 1993, pp. 844-845).
    Vehicular use of roads in creek bottoms can degrade Zuni bluehead 
sucker habitat. Such use inhibits riparian plant growth, breaks down 
banks, causes erosion, causes sedimentation, and increases turbidity in 
the stream, particularly where vehicles drive through the stream 
(especially immediately downstream of the vehicular activity). These 
effects are likely to result in wider and shallower stream channels 
(Furniss et al. 1991, pp. 297-301). This change causes progressive 
adjustments in other variables of hydraulic geometry and results in 
changes to the configuration of pools, runs, riffles, and backwaters; 
levels of fine sediments and substrate

[[Page 43150]]

embeddedness (the degree to which rocks and cobble are stuck in the 
streambed); availability of instream cover; and other fish habitat 
requirements in the vicinity of vehicle crossings (Sullivan et al. 
1987, pp. 67, 69-70; Rosgen 1994, p. 185). It also changes the way in 
which flood flows interact with the stream channel and may exacerbate 
flood damage to banks, channel bottoms, and riparian vegetation. Low-
water crossings for vehicle use are seen throughout the Navajo Nation, 
where the stream channels are wider and shallower, embedded, and create 
barriers to fish movement (Service 2014b, pers. comm.).
    Road construction activities may have direct adverse effects on the 
watershed from soil erosion and sedimentation to the streams. Past, 
current, and future road construction activities may ultimately 
increase the road density in a watershed. Road density is defined as 
the total kilometers (km) (miles (mi)) of road in a defined area in 
square kilometers (km\2\) (square miles (mi\2\)). Matthews (1999, p. 
86) linked road densities to increased sediment yields in the Noyo 
River. Aerial photographs from 1935 and 1991 showed road density in the 
Cebolla and Rio Nutria watersheds rose 138 and 47 percent, respectively 
(NRCS 1998, pp. 42, 47). In 1991, the road density in Cebolla and Rio 
Nutria watersheds were more than 3.1 km/km\2\ (4.9 mi/mi\2\) and 4.5 
km/km\2\ (2.8 mi/mi\2\), respectively (NRCS 1998, pp. 42, 47). In 
addition, the Zuni River Watershed Plan recommends that the road 
density for these watersheds should be 1.9 km/km\2\ (3.1 mi/mi\2\) and 
2.9 km/km\2\ (1.8 mi/mi\2\), respectively, which both Cebolla and Rio 
Nutria watersheds exceeded in 1991 and probably continue to exceed 
today. The excessive miles of roads in this watershed was a concern in 
1991, because of the increased erosion, loss of and fragmentation of 
wildlife habitat, and increased human-wildlife interaction (NRCS 1998, 
p. 67).
    For example, Forest Road 50 in the upper watershed of Zuni bluehead 
sucker habitat (approximately 5 km (3 mi) away from the closest 
occupied habitat) was upgraded in 1999, and several roads were 
developed in 2007 for the Tampico Springs Subdivision. In 2011, the 
U.S. Forest Service issued an easement to McKinley County to upgrade 
Forest Road 191D with gravel surface material (Forest Service 2011, p. 
1), which may increase vehicle traffic because residents may be able to 
access their property year round. This road is approximately 3 km (2 
mi) from Agua Remora and 1.6 km (1 mi) from Tampico Spring (Forest 
Service 2011, pp. 31, 44).
    On the Navajo Indian Reservation, past road construction continues 
to affect stream habitat. On Kinlichee Creek, for example, Bridge BR 
280 constricts the channel considerably, which increases flow rates, 
channel scouring, and downstream deposition of sediment (U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers 1995, p. 3). In addition, existing roads and bridges 
have ongoing maintenance requirements that result in alteration of 
stream channels within Zuni bluehead sucker habitat, as seen in other 
maintenance projects (Service 2011, pp. 3-5; Service 2012b, pp. 2-4). 
Sedimentation from road construction has occurred throughout the range 
of Zuni bluehead sucker in the past and is likely to continue in the 
future.
    In summary, historical logging, overgrazing by livestock, and road 
construction have destroyed much of the groundcover across the Zuni 
bluehead sucker's range (Sanchez 1975, pp. 1, 4; Beatty Davis 1997, pp. 
3, 7; NRCS 1998, p. 68), resulting in increased erosion, increased 
stream flow fluctuation, and the accumulation of large quantities of 
sediment throughout Zuni bluehead sucker habitat (Merkel 1979, p. 1). 
Livestock grazing and road construction are likely to continue at 
present rates throughout the species' range, and logging is likely to 
continue at reduced rates. Sedimentation results in depressed 
reproductive rates and inhibition of algal growth for food. Therefore, 
based on our review of the available information, we conclude that the 
effects of sedimentation are a threat to the Zuni bluehead sucker and 
its habitat rangewide.
Dams and Impoundments
    Much of the primary water use from the Zuni River watershed is for 
irrigation of agriculture, livestock grazing, and human consumption. 
Many small impoundments, built primarily for watering livestock, 
partially prevent flows from reaching the mainstem rivers. According to 
Merkel (1979, p. 1), the lower Rio Nutria, Rio Pescado, and Zuni River 
watersheds have been drastically altered by human activities, such as 
the construction of many small impoundments for livestock watering. 
Reservoirs and diversion dams for irrigation have depleted stream flows 
below the dams and inundated stream reaches above the dams (Merkel 
1979, p. 1; Hanson 1982, p. 4). Degradation of the upper watershed has 
led to increased sedimentation and many of the reservoirs are now only 
shallow, eutrophic (nutrient rich) ponds or wetlands with little or no 
storage capacity (NMDGF 2004, p. 20). Sediment trapping by these 
impoundments has also changed the character of the streams by altering 
channel morphology and substrate composition. The lower Rio Nutria was 
once a perennial stream with wide meanders bordered by willow and 
cottonwood (Populus spp.). After construction of impoundments in the 
Rio Nutria below the box canyon meanders, the channel became deeply 
incised with predominantly silt or silt-sand substrate, which is 
unsuitable for Zuni bluehead sucker. Flow is intermittent between the 
ephemeral pools and impoundments. Current habitat conditions are not 
favorable for Zuni bluehead sucker in much of the watershed downstream 
from the mouth of Rio Nutria Box Canyon, primarily due to impoundments, 
dams, and sedimentation from logging and grazing.
    Additionally, beaver dams affect Zuni bluehead sucker habitat, 
particularly in New Mexico. In 2006, beaver activity in Tampico Draw 
and Rio Nutria increased greatly, fragmenting much Zuni bluehead sucker 
habitat (Carman 2007, p. 1). A marked decrease in captured Zuni 
bluehead sucker in Tampico Draw was attributed to increased siltation 
and water ponding due to beaver activity (Carman 2007, p. 1). In 2010, 
spring flows washed out the beaver dams in Tampico Draw, creating more 
suitable habitat for Zuni bluehead sucker (Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 
6). The best available information does not indicate beaver activity is 
affecting Zuni bluehead sucker populations in Arizona.
    In summary, Zuni bluehead sucker habitat has been reduced rangewide 
due to impoundment construction. Impoundments have lasting effects on 
stream habitat both up and downstream, subsequently fragmenting fish 
populations and decreasing their resiliency and long-term persistence. 
Based on our review of the available information, we conclude that the 
effects of impoundments are a current threat to Zuni bluehead sucker 
and are having rangewide impacts on their habitat.
Housing Developments
    Subdivision developments within the range of Zuni bluehead sucker 
would increase the amount of impervious surfaces in this watershed. 
Impervious surfaces are any surface material that prevents water from 
filtering into the soils, such as buildings, roads, sidewalks, patios, 
parking lots, and compacted soil (Brabec et al. 2002, p. 499, Coles et 
al. 2012, pp. 10, 107). An increase in the amount of impervious 
surfaces could increase the amount of runoff and decrease

[[Page 43151]]

infiltration rates. Impacts of urbanization on stormwater runoff leads 
to various stressors on spring systems, including increased frequency 
and magnitude of high flows in streams, increased sedimentation, 
increased contamination and toxicity, and changes in stream morphology 
and water chemistry (Coles et al. 2012, pp. 1-3, 24, 38, 50-51). 
Urbanization can also impact aquatic species by negatively affecting 
their invertebrate prey base (Coles et al. 2012, p. 4). The increased 
frequency and magnitude of water flowing to streams combined with 
pollutant sources, such as sediment, nutrients, fertilizers, and other 
contaminants, have been linked to changes in stream hydrology, stream 
habitat, and degradation of the stream's biological communities (Coles 
et al. 2012, p. 10). Urbanization can cause changes in fish population 
composition and distribution due to habitat changes and lower water 
table elevations due to groundwater use.
    In 2011, the Forest granted an easement to McKinley County for 
access across Forest Service land via Forest Road 191D (Forest Service 
2011 p. v). The granting of the right-of-way allows McKinley County to 
upgrade and assume maintenance of this road, which provides access to 
the upper Rio Nutria watershed. This road may facilitate the 
development of the Tampico Springs Ranch subdivision with potential 
groundwater loss in the watershed (Forest Service 2011, pp. ix, 31-33).
    In summary, the increases in sedimentation and water withdrawals 
that could result from the development of additional phases of the 
subdivision are a threat to the Zuni bluehead sucker habitat in Rio 
Nutria and Tampico Springs, which constitutes the bulk of the species' 
distribution and habitat in New Mexico. As a result, future rural or 
urban developments can negatively affect habitat the species requires 
to survive and reproduce.
Wildfires
    Wildfires can destroy vegetation along slopes and stream channels 
altering the physical properties of the soil. The lack of ground cover 
increases the amount of potential runoff, thereby increasing the amount 
of woody debris, sedimentation, and ash entering the stream (Swanston 
1991, pp. 141, 175-177). Indirect effects, such as ash flow events that 
follow wildfire during monsoonal seasons can inundate Zuni bluehead 
sucker habitat, and smother and destroy eggs. Severe wildfires that 
extirpate fish populations are a relatively recent phenomenon and 
result from the cumulative effects of historical or ongoing overgrazing 
by domestic livestock, fire suppression, and climate change (Madany and 
West 1983, p. 666; Swetnam 1990, pp. 6-17; Touchan et al. 1995, p. 272; 
Swetnam and Baisan 1996, p. 28; Belsky and Blumenthal 1997, p. 318; 
Gresswell 1999, p. 212; Brown et al. 2004, p. 366; McKenzie et al. 
2004, p. 898; Westerling et al. 2006, p. 943).
    Historically, wildfires in the region were primarily cool-burning 
understory fires with fire return intervals of 4 to 8 years (Swetnam 
and Dieterich 1985, p. 395). Cooper (1960, p. 137) found that, prior to 
the 1950s, crown fires (intense fires that completely consume trees and 
move forward through tree canopies) were extremely rare or nonexistent 
in the region. Since the mid-1980s, wildfire frequency in western 
forests is nearly four times the average of 1970 to 1986, and the total 
area burned is more than 6.5 times the previous level (Westerling et 
al. 2006, p. 941). The average length of fire season increased by 78 
days from the 1970 to 1986 period to the 1987 to 2003 period, and the 
average time between discovery and control increased from 7.5 days to 
37.1 days for the same timeframes (Westerling et al. 2006, p. 941). 
McKenzie et al. (2004, p. 893) suggested, based on models, that the 
length of the fire season will likely increase further and that fires 
in the western United States will be more frequent and more severe. In 
particular, they found that fire in New Mexico appears to be acutely 
sensitive to summer climate and temperature changes and may respond 
dramatically to climate warming.
    Changes in relative humidity, especially drying over the western 
United States, are also projected to increase the number of days of 
high fire danger (Brown et al. 2004, p. 365). Because Zuni bluehead 
sucker are found primarily in isolated, small headwater streams, they 
are unable to swim away from ash flows, and opportunities for natural 
recolonization are unlikely, due to the highly fragmented nature of 
Zuni bluehead sucker populations. Persistence of Zuni bluehead sucker 
in streams affected by fire and subsequent ash flows is unlikely in the 
Zuni watershed. The recently funded Zuni Mountain Collaborative Forest 
Landscape Restoration project is expected to reduce wildfire risk over 
22,662 ha (56,000 ac) in the Rio Puerco and Rio Nutria watersheds 
(Forest Service 2012, p. 1). Currently, wildfire risk in this area is 
considered high (class III), but over the next decade this risk is 
expected to be reduced.
    At this time, wildfire has the potential to affect Zuni bluehead 
suckers due to wildfire risk and associated impacts. Thus, wildfire is 
likely contributing to decreased viability of the species and causing 
the species to be at risk of extinction. However, the conservation 
efforts expected to be in place through the Zuni Mountain Collaborative 
Forest Landscape Restoration project may reduce the risk of 
catastrophic wildfire in the coming years. The best available 
information indicates that wildfire is a threat to the Zuni bluehead 
sucker.
Climate Change
    Our analyses under the Endangered Species Act include consideration 
of ongoing and projected changes in climate. The terms ``climate'' and 
``climate change'' are defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on 
Climate Change (IPCC). The term ``climate'' refers to the mean and 
variability of different types of weather conditions over time, with 30 
years being a typical period for such measurements, although shorter or 
longer periods also may be used (IPCC 2007a, p. 78). The term ``climate 
change'' thus refers to a change in the mean or variability of one or 
more measures of climate (e.g., temperature or precipitation) that 
persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer, whether 
the change is due to natural variability, human activity, or both (IPCC 
2007a, p. 78).
    Scientific measurements spanning several decades demonstrate that 
changes in climate are occurring, and that the rate of change has been 
faster since the 1950s. Examples include warming of the global climate 
system, and substantial increases in precipitation in some regions of 
the world and decreases in other regions. (For these and other 
examples, see IPCC 2007a, p. 30; and Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 35-54, 
82-85). Results of scientific analyses presented by the IPCC show that 
most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the 
mid-20th century cannot be explained by natural variability in climate, 
and is ``very likely'' (defined by the IPCC as 90 percent or higher 
probability) due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) 
concentrations in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, 
particularly carbon dioxide emissions from use of fossil fuels (IPCC 
2007a, pp. 5-6 and figures SPM.3 and SPM.4; Solomon et al. 2007, pp. 
21-35). Further confirmation of the role of GHGs comes from analyses by 
Huber and Knutti (2011, p. 4), who concluded it is extremely likely 
that approximately 75 percent of global warming since 1950 has been 
caused by human activities.
    Scientists use a variety of climate models, which include 
consideration of

[[Page 43152]]

natural processes and variability, as well as various scenarios of 
potential levels and timing of GHG emissions, to evaluate the causes of 
changes already observed and to project future changes in temperature 
and other climate conditions (e.g., Meehl et al. 2007, entire; Ganguly 
et al. 2009, pp. 11555, 15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 529). All 
combinations of models and emissions scenarios yield very similar 
projections of increases in the most common measure of climate change, 
average global surface temperature (commonly known as global warming), 
until about 2030. Although projections of the magnitude and rate of 
warming differ after about 2030, the overall trajectory of all the 
projections is one of increased global warming through the end of this 
century, even for the projections based on scenarios that assume that 
GHG emissions will stabilize or decline. Thus, there is strong 
scientific support for projections that warming will continue through 
the 21st century, and that the magnitude and rate of change will be 
influenced substantially by the extent of GHG emissions (IPCC 2007a, 
pp. 44-45; Meehl et al. 2007, pp. 760-764, 797-811; Ganguly et al. 
2009, pp. 15555-15558; Prinn et al. 2011, pp. 527, 529). (See IPCC 
2007b, p. 8, for a summary of other global projections of climate-
related changes, such as frequency of heat waves and changes in 
precipitation. Also, see IPCC 2011 (entire) for a summary of 
observations and projections of extreme climate events.)
    Various changes in climate may have direct or indirect effects on 
species. These effects may be positive, neutral, or negative, and they 
may change over time, depending on the species and other relevant 
considerations, such as interactions of climate with other variables 
(e.g., habitat fragmentation) (IPCC 2007b, pp. 8-14, 18-19). 
Identifying likely effects often involves aspects of climate change 
vulnerability analysis. Vulnerability refers to the degree to which a 
species (or system) is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse 
effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. 
Vulnerability is a function of the type, magnitude, and rate of climate 
change and variation to which a species is exposed, its sensitivity, 
and its adaptive capacity (IPCC 2007a, p. 89; see also Glick et al. 
2011, pp. 19-22). There is no single method for conducting such 
analyses that applies to all situations (Glick et al. 2011, p. 3). We 
use our expert judgment and appropriate analytical approaches to weigh 
relevant information, including uncertainty, in our consideration of 
various aspects of climate change.
    As is the case with all stressors that we assess, even if we 
conclude that a species is currently affected or is likely to be 
affected in a negative way by one or more climate-related impacts, it 
does not necessarily follow that the species meets the definition of an 
``endangered species'' or a ``threatened species'' under the Act. If a 
species is listed as endangered or threatened, knowledge regarding the 
vulnerability of the species to, and known or anticipated impacts from, 
climate-associated changes in environmental conditions can be used to 
help devise appropriate strategies for its recovery.
    Global climate projections are informative, and, in some cases, the 
only or the best scientific information available for us to use. 
However, projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary 
substantially across and within different regions of the world (e.g., 
IPCC 2007a, pp. 8-12). Therefore, we use ``downscaled'' projections 
when they are available and have been developed through appropriate 
scientific procedures, because such projections provide higher 
resolution information that is more relevant to spatial scales used for 
analyses of a given species (see Glick et al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a 
discussion of downscaling). With regard to our analysis for the Zuni 
bluehead sucker, downscaled projections are available.
    Climate simulations of Palmer Drought Severity Index (PSDI) (a 
calculation of the cumulative effects of precipitation and temperature 
on surface moisture balance) for the Southwest for the periods of 2006-
2030 and 2035-2060 predict an increase in drought severity with surface 
warming. Additionally, drought still increases during wetter 
simulations because of the effect of heat-related moisture loss 
(Hoerling and Eischeid 2007, p. 19). Annual mean precipitation is 
likely to decrease in the Southwest as well as the length of snow 
season and snow depth (IPCC 2007b, p. 887). Most models project a 
widespread decrease in snow depth in the Rocky Mountains and earlier 
snowmelt (IPCC 2007b, p. 891). Exactly how climate change will affect 
precipitation is less certain, because precipitation predictions are 
based on continental-scale general circulation models that do not yet 
account for land use and land cover change effects on climate or 
regional phenomena. Consistent with recent observations in changes from 
climate, the outlook presented for the Southwest predicts warmer, 
drier, drought-like conditions (Seager et al. 2007, p. 1181; Hoerling 
and Eischeid 2007, p. 19). A decline in water resources will be a 
significant factor in the compromised watersheds of the desert 
southwest.
    Climate change could affect the Zuni bluehead sucker through 
increased temperatures, evaporation, and probability of long-term 
drought. However, we are not able to predict with certainty how the 
indirect effects of climate change will affect Zuni bluehead sucker 
habitats due to a lack of information on the groundwater system that 
provides water to the species' spring-fed habitat and large-scale 
projections of precipitation that contribute to stream flow. We 
conclude that climate change may be a significant stressor that 
indirectly exacerbates existing threats by increasing the likelihood of 
prolonged drought that would reduce water availability for streamflow 
or spring flow and incur future habitat loss. The National Integrated 
Drought Information System (2012) classifies drought in increasing 
severity categories from abnormally dry, to moderate, severe, extreme, 
and, most severe, exceptional. The southwestern United States is 
currently experiencing drought conditions classified as moderate to 
exceptional. Drought conditions are reported as severe to extreme for 
areas occupied by Zuni bluehead sucker in Arizona and New Mexico 
(National Integrated Drought Information System 2012).
    While Zuni bluehead sucker have survived many droughts in its 
evolutionary history, the present status of this species and its 
habitat is so degraded that the effects of the drought may be more 
difficult for the species to withstand. In some areas of Zuni bluehead 
sucker habitat, drought results in lower streamflow or pool habitat, 
with consequently warmer water temperatures and more crowded habitats 
with potentially higher levels of predation and competition. In other 
areas drought reduces flooding, which would normally rejuvenate habitat 
and tend to reduce populations of some nonnative species, which are 
less adapted to the large floods of Southwest streams (Minckley and 
Meffe 1987, pp. 93-104; Stefferud and Rinne 1996, p. 93). As such, 
long-term and recurrent drought, because of climate change, may affect 
Zuni bluehead sucker habitat, but the severity of the threat and 
impacts remains uncertain. Therefore, we conclude that long-term 
drought, because of climate change, is a threat to the Zuni bluehead 
sucker, and will likely continue to be a threat in the future. In 
addition, the impacts from climate change will likely exacerbate

[[Page 43153]]

the current and ongoing threat of habitat loss caused by other factors, 
as discussed above.
Summary of Factor A
    The Zuni bluehead sucker faces a variety of threats throughout its 
range in Arizona and New Mexico, including water withdrawals, logging, 
livestock grazing, water impoundments, road construction, subdivision 
development, and long-term drought. In New Mexico, water withdrawals, 
subdivision development, livestock grazing, road construction, logging, 
and drought threaten Zuni bluehead suckers and their habitat. In 
Arizona, water withdrawals, livestock grazing, road construction, and 
drought have affected the Zuni bluehead sucker. These activities, alone 
and in combination, contribute to the substantial loss and degradation 
of habitat in Arizona and New Mexico.
    The changes in the flow regimes and loss of habitat from water 
withdrawals, sedimentation, and impoundments have reduced and 
eliminated populations of Zuni bluehead sucker in both New Mexico and 
Arizona. These conditions, in combination with the predicted worsening 
drought conditions due to climate change, will continue to degrade and 
eliminate Zuni bluehead sucker habitat.

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

    The Zuni bluehead sucker is not a game fish and does not have 
recreational or commercial value. Both the AGFD and NMDGF prohibit 
collection of the species (NMDGF 1998, p. 11; AGFD 2011, p. 6), 
although collection of Zuni bluehead sucker may be authorized by either 
State by special permit. A limited amount of scientific collection 
occurs but does not pose a threat to Zuni bluehead sucker because it is 
regulated appropriately by the States. However, we do not have any 
evidence suggesting that the occasional removal of Zuni bluehead sucker 
in this manner is a threat to the species.

Factor C. Disease or Predation

Disease
    In general, fish species are susceptible to a spectrum of diseases, 
and the Zuni bluehead sucker is no exception. Diseases could 
potentially impact the reproduction, growth, and survival of the Zuni 
bluehead sucker. In addition, drought conditions (discussed above) may 
cause physiological stress on Zuni bluehead sucker making them more 
susceptible to disease. There is no published information on diseases 
of the Zuni bluehead sucker, although information is available from the 
Little Colorado River and the neighboring Lower San Juan River 
watershed for similar species. Asian tapeworm (Bothriocephalus 
acheilognathi) and anchor worm (Lernaea cyprinacea) have been found in 
the San Juan River system, but neither was found to infest bluehead 
suckers (Landye et al. 1999, p. 6). In addition, Landye et al. (1999, 
p. 7) also detected the protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifilis, but it 
was not found to affect bluehead suckers.
    Although the best scientific information available does not 
indicate that disease is currently affecting the Zuni bluehead sucker, 
two parasites discussed below have been documented on the Zuni bluehead 
sucker and may be impacting the subspecies. Parasites are thought to 
decrease the growth rate of otherwise healthy fish and may lead to 
stress and possibly death (AGFD 2006, p. 40). Black grub, also called 
black spot (Neascus spp.) is a parasitic larval fluke that appears as 
black spots on the body of a fish. Adult black grub trematodes live in 
a bird's mouth and produce eggs, which are swallowed unharmed and 
released into the water in the bird's feces. Eggs mature in the water, 
hatch, and infest mollusks as an intermediate host. They then migrate 
into the tissues of a second intermediate host, which is typically a 
fish. When the larvae penetrate and migrate into the tissues of a fish, 
they cause damage and possibly hemorrhaging. The larvae then become 
encapsulated by host tissue and appear as black spots. The damage 
caused by one individual black grub is negligible, but in great numbers 
they may kill a fish (Lane and Morris 2000, pp. 2-3; Quist et al. 2007, 
p. 130). Black grub was found on several Zuni bluehead suckers in 2005 
in the Rio Nutria Box Canyon area (Carman 2006, p. 8). None were seen 
on fish caught in 2006 or 2007, but black grub was observed again in 
the Rio Nutria Box Canyon in 2008 and Agua Remora in 2008 through 2012 
(Carman 2009, p. 9; Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 17, NMDGF 2013, p. 22). 
Because surveys have been intermittent in recent years, no information 
is available on whether black grub is present within occupied habitats 
of Zuni bluehead sucker in Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation, 
but black grub does occur within the Little Colorado River and Lower 
San Juan River watershed (Hobbes 2001a, pp. 38-39). Surveys on Navajo 
Nation were conducted in 2012, and black grub was not observed within 
occupied habitats of Zuni bluehead sucker.
    Results from investigations on the effects of black grub on other 
species of fish have varied; effects have ranged from none, to slowing 
growth, to mortality (Hunter and Hunter 1938, pp. 480-481; Vinikour 
1977, pp. 83, 88; Lemly and Esch 1984, pp. 475, 488-490; Quist et al. 
2007, p. 130). Vinikour (1977, pp. 83, 88) found no effect on longnose 
dace (Rhinichthys cataractae) between populations that were infested 
with black grub and non-infested population. However, Hunter and Hunter 
(1938, pp. 480-481) showed that young black bass (Micropterus dolomieu) 
with heavy infestation of black grub lost weight. Young bluegill 
(Lepomis macrochirus) died due to black grub infestation (Lemly and 
Esch 1984, pp. 475, 488-490). The effects of black grub on the Zuni 
bluehead sucker are unknown.
    Yellow grub is a parasitic, larval flatworm that appears as yellow 
spots on the body and fins of a fish. These spots contain larvae of 
worms that are typically introduced by fish-eating birds that ingest 
fish infected with the parasite. Once ingested, the parasites mature 
and produce eggs in the intestines of the bird host. The eggs are then 
deposited into water bodies in the bird waste, where they infect the 
livers of aquatic snails. The snail hosts in turn allow the parasites 
to develop into a second and third larval form, which then migrates 
into a fish host. Because the intermediate host is a bird and, 
therefore, highly mobile, yellow grub are easily spread. When yellow 
grubs infect a fish, they penetrate the skin and migrate into its 
tissues, causing damage and potentially hemorrhaging. Damage from one 
yellow grub may be minimal, but, in greater numbers, yellow grub can 
harm or kill fish (Lane and Morris 2000, p. 3). Yellow grub was first 
observed in Zuni bluehead suckers in Black Soil Springs in 2012, and 
again in 2013 (Kitcheyan 2012, p. 1, Kitcheyan 2013, p. 1). The effects 
of yellow grub on the Zuni bluehead sucker are unknown.
    The available information does not indicate disease is a threat to 
the Zuni bluehead sucker rangewide. However, both black and yellow grub 
may be a threat to the species; these parasites have profound effects 
on many other species of fish, and both have been detected in Zuni 
bluehead sucker. The best available information indicates that it could 
be a threat and additional sampling and studies are needed. We request 
information on any potential threat to the Zuni bluehead sucker posed 
by black grub or other parasites or disease.

[[Page 43154]]

Predation
    The introduction and spread of nonnative species has been 
identified as one of the primary factors in the continuing decline of 
native fishes throughout North America and particularly in the 
southwestern United States (Miller 1961, pp. 365, 397-398; Lachner et 
al. 1970, p. 21; Ono et al. 1983, pp. 90-91; Carlson and Muth 1989, pp. 
222, 234; Fuller et al. 1999, p. 1; Propst et al. 2008, pp. 1246-1251; 
Pilger et al. 2010, pp. 300, 311-312). Nonnative fish and crayfish are 
found throughout the range of the Zuni bluehead sucker.
    Nonnative fishes known to occur within the historical range of the 
Zuni bluehead sucker include channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), 
fathead minnow, green sunfish, plains killifish (Fundulus zebrinus), 
largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), rainbow trout, cutthroat trout 
(Oncorhynchus clarkii), northern pike, brown trout (Salmo trutta), 
grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), and goldfish (Carassius auratus) 
(NMDGF 2003, pp. 2-14; NMDGF 2004, p. 10; David 2006, pp. 7-15). In 
particular, nonnative predatory fishes (primarily green sunfish) have 
contributed to the displacement or elimination of the species from 
portions of its historical range (NMDGF 2004, p. 24). Predation by 
green sunfish upon native fishes within the Colorado River watershed 
has been well-documented (Marsh and Langhorst 1988, p. 65; Lohr and 
Fausch 1996, p. 155; Dudley and Matter 2000, pp. 24, 27-28; Tyus and 
Saunders 2000, p. 19). Propst et al. (2001, p. 162) documented few or 
no Zuni bluehead suckers in areas occupied by green sunfish. The rarity 
of small Zuni bluehead suckers in Agua Remora may be due to green 
sunfish predation on young Zuni bluehead sucker, limiting recruitment 
(Marsh and Langhorst 1988, p. 65; Carman 2008, p. 17). In 2006, green 
sunfish dominated the catch in Agua Remora (Carman 2007, p. 7), but 
since that time, dedicated eradication efforts have led to a 
significant decline in green sunfish numbers, and larval Zuni bluehead 
suckers were observed in 2009 (Gilbert and Carman 2011, p. 17), 
indicating the population was responding positively to the reduced 
numbers of green sunfish. The Zuni bluehead sucker occurs only in 
stream and spring habitats that are comparatively free of nonnative 
fishes (Propst and Hobbes 1996, p. 37; Carman 2009, p. 20).
    Two species of nonnative crayfish have been documented in the lower 
Colorado River watershed: The northern crayfish and red swamp crayfish 
(Childs 1999, p. 5). Crayfish can affect aquatic systems because they 
are opportunistic omnivores (eating both animals and plants) (Carpenter 
2005, p. 335). Many studies have demonstrated that introduced crayfish 
prey upon native fishes and compete with them for shelter (Rahel and 
Stein 1988, p. 94; Rahel 1989, p. 301; Bryan et al. 2002, pp. 49, 55-
56; Carpenter 2005, pp. 5, 339). Crayfish are known to eat fish eggs, 
especially those bound to the substrate (Dorn and Mittelbach 2004, p. 
2135), like those of the Zuni bluehead sucker. In addition, Thomas and 
Taylor (2013, p. 1315) suggest that crayfish may have negative effects 
on adult benthic fish populations and that predation is a possible 
mechanism. The Thomas and Taylor (2013, p. 1313) study was based on 
darters (Etheostoma sp.) where fish being consumed were on average 44.3 
millimeters (1.74 in). Based on this study, the size of fish being 
consumed by crayfish could be indicative that young bluehead sucker may 
be consumed by crayfish as well, therefore, posing a threat to young 
Zuni bluehead suckers.
    The northern crayfish was detected in the Zuni River confluence 
with the Rio Pescado, in the Rio Pescado itself, and in the lower end 
of Rio Nutria in 2000, 2001, and 2004, respectively (NMDGF 2004, p. 5; 
Carman 2009, p. 20). The northern crayfish is also present at occupied 
sites of Zuni bluehead sucker on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Black 
Soil Wash (Carman 2004, p. 4; Kitcheyan and Mata 2012, p. 2) and 
Kinlichee Creek (Kitcheyan and Mata 2012, p. 2). The northern crayfish 
is tolerant of a wide range of habitats and may be a threat to Zuni 
bluehead sucker through competition or predation.
    Nonnative fish and crayfish occur throughout the range of the Zuni 
bluehead sucker, and in Agua Remora the dominance of green sunfish 
appears to be the cause of limited recruitment and population decline. 
Given the widespread occurrence of green sunfish and other nonnative 
predators across the range of the Zuni bluehead sucker and the low Zuni 
bluehead sucker population numbers rangewide, we conclude that 
predation is a threat to the Zuni bluehead sucker.
Conservation Efforts To Reduce Disease or Predation
    As stated above, NMDGF has begun a green sunfish eradication effort 
at Agua Remora, which has significantly lowered the green sunfish 
population there, such that larval Zuni bluehead sucker were observed 
after implementation of this program after several years of absence.
Summary of Factor C
    In summary, black grub has been documented throughout the range of 
the species and is known to adversely affect or kill fish. In addition, 
nonnative predatory fish, particularly green sunfish, have contributed 
to the displacement or elimination of the species throughout its range, 
and nonnative crayfish are likely preying upon Zuni bluehead sucker 
eggs. Therefore, we conclude that parasites may be a threat to the Zuni 
bluehead sucker, and predation is a documented threat to the species. 
These threats are already occurring; they affect the species throughout 
its range; and they result in the reduced viability of the species 
because of the reduced range and low population numbers rangewide.

Factor D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Under this factor, we examine whether existing regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate to address the threats to the Zuni bluehead 
sucker discussed under other factors. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act 
requires the Service to take into account ``those efforts, if any, 
being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political subdivision 
of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species. . . . '' In 
relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language to 
require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and Tribal 
laws, regulations, and other such mechanisms that may minimize any of 
the threats we describe in threat analyses under the other four 
factors, or otherwise enhance conservation of the species. We give 
strongest weight to statutes and their implementing regulations and to 
management direction that stems from those laws and regulations. An 
example would be State governmental actions enforced under a State 
statute or constitution, or Federal action under statute.
    Having evaluated the significance of the threat as mitigated by any 
such conservation efforts, we analyze under Factor D the extent to 
which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address the 
specific threats to the species. Regulatory mechanisms, if they exist, 
may reduce or eliminate the impacts from one or more identified 
threats. In this section, we review existing State and Federal 
regulatory mechanisms to determine whether they effectively reduce or 
remove threats to the Zuni bluehead sucker.
    Existing mechanisms that could provide some protection for the Zuni 
bluehead sucker include: (1) New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act; (2)

[[Page 43155]]

New Mexico Zuni bluehead sucker recovery plan; (3) Wildlife of Special 
Concern Act in Arizona; (4) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); 
(5) National Forest Management Act; and (6) Zuni Pueblo Law and Order 
Code.
State Regulations
    New Mexico State law provides limited protection to the Zuni 
bluehead sucker. The species is listed in New Mexico as threatened, 
Group 2 (= threatened) in 1975, which are those species ``whose 
prospects of survival or recruitment within the state are likely to 
become jeopardized in the near future'' (NMDGF 1988, p. 1; Bison-M 
2012). The species legal status designation was upgraded to a Group 1 
(= endangered), which are those species ``whose prospects of survival 
or recruitment within the state are in jeopardy'' (NMDGF 1988, p. 1; 
NMDGF 1990, pp. 1, 3; Bison-M 2012, p. 4). This designation provides 
protection under the New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974 (the 
State's endangered species act) (19 NMAC 33.6.8), but it only prohibits 
direct take of this species, except under issuance of a scientific 
collecting permit. A limited amount of scientific collection occurs but 
does not pose a threat to Zuni bluehead sucker because it is regulated 
appropriately by the State. The New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act 
defines ``take'' or ``taking'' as ``harass, hunt, capture, or kill any 
wildlife or attempt to do so'' (17 NMAC 17.2.38). In other words, New 
Mexico State status as an endangered species conveys protection from 
collection or intentional harm to the animals themselves but does not 
provide habitat protection. Penalties for violations may result in 
fines up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 1 year. New Mexico State 
statutes do not address habitat protection, indirect effects, or other 
threats to the species. New Mexico State status as an endangered 
species only conveys protection from collection or intentional harm. 
However, no formal consultation process addresses the habitat 
requirements of the species or how a proposed action may affect the 
needs of the species. Because most of the threats to the species are 
from effects to habitat, protecting individuals will not ensure their 
long-term protection.
    NMDGF recognizes the importance of the Zuni bluehead sucker 
conservation at the local population level and has the authority to 
consider and recommend actions to mitigate potential adverse effects to 
this species during its review of development proposals. As noted, 
NMDGF's primary regulatory venue is under the New Mexico Wildlife 
Conservation Act. There are no provisions beyond those ``take'' 
provisions described above requiring other State agencies to adopt the 
recommended mitigation measures.
    Still, as directed by the Wildlife Conservation Act amendments of 
1995, NMDGF were responsible for developing recovery plans for species 
listed as endangered by the State (17-2-40.1 NMSA 1978). Thus, the 
NMDGF developed a recovery plan for the Zuni bluehead sucker in 2004 
(NMDGF 2004, entire). The objective of the recovery plan is that, by 
2015, the populations and distribution of the Zuni bluehead sucker are 
sufficient to ensure its persistence within New Mexico and thereby 
warrant its removal from the State endangered species list. The 
recovery plan does not restrict activities that would be likely to 
adversely affect the species or its habitat and, likewise, does not 
require activities that would be likely to benefit the species or its 
habitat; however, the recovery plan and implementation has vital 
information on the Zuni bluehead sucker. As noted above, the State's 
recovery plan does not ensure any long-term protection for the Zuni 
bluehead sucker because there are no mandatory elements or funding 
dedicated to ensure the recovery plan is implemented. In addition, much 
of the current and historical range of the Zuni bluehead sucker occurs 
on the Zuni Pueblo. The State of New Mexico recognizes the Zuni Pueblo 
as a sovereign nation and as such, does not have jurisdiction over 
wildlife species on Zuni Pueblo. Therefore, NMDGF does not have the 
authorization to restrict proposed projects that may adversely affect 
these species or their habitat.
    The Wildlife of Special Concern Act in Arizona lists the Zuni 
bluehead sucker as a candidate species (AGFD 1996, p. 8). Candidate 
species are those species or subspecies for which threats are known or 
suspected but for which substantial population declines from historical 
levels have not been documented (though they appear likely to have 
occurred) (AGFD 1996, p. 8). The listing under the State of Arizona law 
does not provide protection to the species or their habitats. In 2007, 
AGFD identified the Zuni bluehead sucker in fishing regulations as a 
State-protected native fish that may not be possessed; however, this 
status still lacks habitat protection (AGFD 2007, p. 1). Penalties for 
violations result in a fine.
    In Arizona and New Mexico the Zuni bluehead sucker is classified as 
a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SCGN) (AGFD 2006, p. 154; 
NMDGF 2006, p. 54). New Mexico's SGCN are associated with key habitats 
and include low and declining populations and species of high 
recreational, economic, or charismatic value (NMDGF 2006, p. 8). No 
regulatory protections are afforded based on this designation. Because 
there are no provisions for habitat conservation in either State's law, 
the existing New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act and the Arizona 
Wildlife of Special Concern Act do not address the threat of nonnative 
species in the habitat of the Zuni bluehead sucker.
    In addition, in 2006, the AGFD developed an Arizona statewide 
conservation agreement for roundtail chub (Gila robusta), headwater 
chub (Gila nigra), flannelmouth sucker (Catostomus latipinnis), Little 
Colorado River sucker (Catostomus spp.), bluehead sucker, and Zuni 
bluehead sucker. The stated objective of this 5-year agreement is to 
address and ameliorate the five listing factors found in section 
4(a)(1) of the Act. Signatories to the agreement include the Bureau of 
Reclamation, Hualapai Tribe, Salt River Project, Bureau of Land 
Management, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Department of Water 
Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Forest Service, and AGFD. The 
agreement establishes a general framework for cooperation and 
participation among signatories. The parties have agreed that a suite 
of actions should be implemented to achieve the stated objective; 
examples of these actions in the agreement that may benefit Zuni 
bluehead sucker include establishing and maintaining a database of 
information on the species, restoring natural fire regimes in the 
watersheds of extant populations of species, and maintaining habitat 
quality. Activities conducted under this agreement have provided vital 
information on the Zuni bluehead sucker. In Arizona, all of the current 
and historical range of the Zuni bluehead sucker occurs on Navajo 
Nation lands; however, Navajo Nation is not a signatory on the 
conservation agreement and, thus, actions outlined in the agreement do 
not apply to these Tribal lands. Navajo Nation has expressed interest 
in becoming a signatory to this AGFD conservation agreement, but they 
have not been involved in the agreement's implementation. The State of 
Arizona recognizes Navajo Nation as a sovereign nation and, as such, 
does not have jurisdiction over wildlife species on the Navajo Nation 
lands. The agreement was scheduled to last a minimum of 5 years and is, 
therefore, currently outdated, but all signatories have expressed 
interest in updating the

[[Page 43156]]

agreement. Much like the New Mexico recovery plan, the Arizona 
statewide conservation agreement is not regulatory in nature and does 
not restrict activities that may adversely affect the species or its 
habitat. In addition, specific future efforts need to implement the 
conservation agreement have not been identified.
    Both AGFD and NMDGF are State agency signatories to the ``Rangewide 
conservation agreement and strategy for roundtail chub, bluehead 
sucker, and flannelmouth sucker'' (Colorado River Fish and Wildlife 
Council 2006, p. 6). The agreement, known as the three species 
conservation agreement, was developed to expedite implementation of 
conservation measures for roundtail chub, bluehead sucker, and 
flannelmouth sucker. The stated goal of the agreement is to ensure the 
persistence of roundtail chub, bluehead sucker, and flannelmouth sucker 
populations throughout their ranges. This agreement may incidentally 
reduce threats to the Zuni bluehead sucker, but the subspecies is not 
the focus of the agreement. Examples of conservation actions identified 
in the agreement and strategy include: Conducting status assessments of 
the three subject species; establishing and maintaining a database of 
information on the three subject species; and genetically and 
morphologically characterizing populations of the three species. The 
agreement and its implementation provide vital information on the Zuni 
bluehead sucker. However, as stated for the State agencies' 
conservation agreements and recovery plan, this agreement is not 
regulatory in nature and does not specifically restrict activities that 
may adversely affect the species or its habitat.
    The Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts (PECE) provides 
guidance for the evaluation of conservation efforts when making a 
listing decision. The policy applies to conservation efforts identified 
in conservation agreements, conservation plans, management plans, or 
similar documents approved by Federal agencies, State and local 
governments, Tribal governments, businesses, organizations, or 
individuals. Further, for the purpose of PECE, conservation efforts are 
defined as specific actions, activities, or programs designed to 
eliminate or reduce threats or otherwise improve the status of a 
species. Conservation efforts may involve restoration, enhancement, 
maintenance, or protection of habitat; reduction of mortality or 
injury; or other beneficial actions. We are not conducting an analysis 
under PECE for the Zuni bluehead sucker recovery plan developed by 
NMDGF, the AGFD state-wide conservation agreement, or the rangewide 
conservation agreement and strategy because these plans do not provide 
detailed conservation strategies designed to eliminate or reduce 
threats to the Zuni bluehead sucker. Parties to the agreements are not 
committing themselves to any specific efforts under a timeline or 
implementation schedule; rather, the agreement and recovery plan 
include broad strategies that may be employed in the future to achieve 
their intended objectives of precluding the need to list the species. 
These conservation efforts within the plans and agreements lack the 
necessary specificity that would be required in order for us to 
consider them under PECE. The plans are nevertheless valuable because 
they generate useful information, and some actions have been completed 
under them; however, specific future actions are not described in a 
level of detail that suggests evaluation under PECE would be 
appropriate.
    As discussed above (see Factor C. Disease or Predation), the 
introduction and spread of nonnative aquatic species is a threat to 
Zuni bluehead sucker. The existing regulatory mechanisms in Arizona and 
New Mexico do not protect the Zuni bluehead sucker from nonnative 
aquatic predators. Regulation of programs to introduce, augment, 
spread, or permit such actions do not address the spread of nonnative 
species, as many nonnative species introductions are conducted through 
incidental or unregulated actions.
    We also searched for State laws or local ordinances that would 
include provisions for instream water rights to protect fish and 
wildlife and their habitat. New Mexico water rights are regulated by 
the Interstate Stream Commission and the Office of State Engineer for 
surface and groundwater; New Mexico State law does not allow for 
instream flows for fish and wildlife. Instream flows for fish and 
wildlife (i.e., water is not diverted for irrigation but remains in the 
river to ensure permanent flows) are allowed under Arizona water law; 
however, this is a relatively recent provision, and instream water 
rights have low priority and are often overcome by more senior 
diversion rights. Arizona State law also allows groundwater pumping via 
a permit process administered by the Arizona Department of Water 
Resources. As discussed above (see the above discussion on water 
withdrawals under Factor A), despite this regulation, groundwater 
withdrawals have resulted in reduced surface flow in Zuni bluehead 
sucker habitat. Therefore, the Arizona State law does not adequately 
protect Zuni bluehead sucker habitat.
Federal Regulations
    Many Federal statutes potentially afford protection to Zuni 
bluehead sucker. A few of these are the Federal Land Policy and 
Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701-1782), the National Forest Management 
Act (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.), and the Federal Water Pollution Control 
Act (Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.)). However, in practice, 
the provisions of these statutes that require consideration of rare 
species have not been able to address the threats to the Zuni bluehead 
sucker.
    The Federal Land Policy and Management Act and National Forest 
Management Act provide mechanisms for protection and enhancement of 
Zuni bluehead sucker and its habitat on Federal lands. The only Zuni 
bluehead sucker population on Federal land is in Agua Remora, on the 
Cibola National Forest. The National Forest Management Act requires the 
Forest Service to prepare management plans for each National Forest; a 
plan has been completed for the Cibola National Forest (Forest Service 
1985, pp. 17-18). Forest plans must meet the requirements of the 
Natural Resources Multiple-Use Act to address such issues as 
recreation, range, timber, biological diversity, and economic and 
social factors in agency decisionmaking. The 1985 Cibola National 
Forest Plan includes a discussion of protection of the Zuni bluehead 
sucker. The plan indicated that fencing would protect Zuni bluehead 
sucker riparian habitat, but improved range management was needed to 
restore the entire watershed. The Forest Service has made minor 
progress in protecting the habitat at Agua Remora by fencing the area 
to prevent grazing, but as discussed above, fencing has not been 
completely effective due to inadequate maintenance of the fences. 
Continued monitoring and maintenance of this fence is necessary to 
provide sufficient protection to the Zuni bluehead sucker population in 
Agua Remora from the effects of livestock grazing.
    In addition, the Zuni bluehead sucker is listed as a sensitive 
species for the Forest Service's Southwestern Region, which includes 
Arizona and New Mexico (Forest Service 2007, p. 22). The Forest Service 
intends to develop and implement management practices to ensure that 
designated sensitive species do not become threatened or endangered 
because of Forest Service actions. Essentially, sensitive species must 
receive special management

[[Page 43157]]

considerations or protection by the Forest Service to ensure their 
viability to preclude trends toward endangerment that would result in 
the need for Federal listing. While the Forest Service has attempted 
fencing at Agua Remora to eliminate the threat of livestock grazing, a 
number of other threats to the population at Agua Remora are beyond the 
Forest Service's control; namely, water levels have been extremely low 
in recent years, and in the absence of removals by NMDGF, green sunfish 
affect Zuni bluehead sucker recruitment.
    Section 404 of the Clean Water Act regulates placement of fill into 
waters of the United States, including most of Zuni bluehead sucker 
habitat. However, many actions highly detrimental to Zuni bluehead 
sucker and its habitat, such as irrigation diversion, structure 
construction and maintenance, and livestock grazing are often exempted 
from the Clean Water Act. Other detrimental actions, such as bank 
stabilization and road crossings, are covered under nationwide permits 
that receive little or no Service review. A lack of thorough, site-
specific analyses for projects can allow substantial adverse effects to 
Zuni bluehead sucker and its habitat.
Tribal Regulations
    Zuni Pueblo--The Zuni bluehead sucker, speckled dace, and grass 
carp are protected from fishing in Zuni Pueblo lakes (Zuni Pueblo Law 
and Order Code S7-5-3 paragraph 36). In addition, stream fishing is 
prohibited on the Pueblo. These regulations protect the species from 
take by fishing but do not protect Zuni bluehead sucker habitat or 
prevent take from sources other than fishing, such as water withdrawals 
and livestock grazing.
    Navajo Nation--The Zuni bluehead sucker is not protected within the 
Navajo Indian Reservation. The Navajo Nation Endangered Species List 
classifies the bluehead sucker as a whole as a Group 4 (G4) species. G4 
species are candidates and include those species or subspecies for 
which the Navajo Fish and Wildlife Department does not have sufficient 
information to support endangered (Group 2) or threatened (Group 3) 
status but has reason to consider them (Navajo Nation Heritage Program 
2008, pp. i, iv, vi, 84, Navajo Nation 2013, p. 2). The bluehead sucker 
is not protected by the Navajo Nation because it is not considered 
threatened or endangered.
    Navajo Nation has several plans and policies that potentially 
afford protection to the Zuni bluehead sucker. A few of these are the 
Biological Resources Land Use Clearance Policies and Procedures, Navajo 
Nation Water Quality Standards of 2007, Navajo Nation Aquatic Resources 
Protection Program, and Navajo Nation's 10-Year Forest Management Plan.
    The Biological Resources Land Use Clearance Policies and Procedures 
(RCP) categorizes the Navajo Nation into six categories of sensitivity, 
ranging from High Sensitivity, Moderate Sensitivity, Low Sensitivity, 
Community Development Areas, Recreation Areas, and Biological Preserves 
(Navajo Nation 2008a, pp. 1-2). The Highly Sensitive Areas (Area 1) and 
Biological Preserves are areas that are the most protected on the 
Nation's land (Navajo Nation 2008a, p. 4). All of the watersheds that 
are proposed for critical habitat for the Zuni bluehead suckers are 
within Highly Sensitive Areas. The RCP outlines the policies and 
procedures required for any projects to occur within highly sensitive 
areas (Navajo Nation 2008a, entire). Area 1 is considered Highly 
Sensitive; contains the best habitat available for endangered and rare 
plant, animal, and game species; and has the highest concentration of 
these species on the Navajo Nation. The purpose of this area is to 
protect these valuable and sensitive biological resources to the 
maximum extent practical. The general rule for this area is no activity 
or development can occur that is going to result in significant impact 
to wildlife resources.
    The Navajo Nation Water Quality Standard of 2007 includes 
regulations that establish surface water quality standards applicable 
to the surface waters of the Navajo Nation pursuant to the Federal 
Clean Water Act. The purpose of the surface water quality standards is 
to protect, maintain, and improve the quality of Navajo Nation surface 
waters for public and private drinking water supplies; to promote the 
habitation, growth, and propagation of native and other desirable 
aquatic plant and animal life; to protect existing, and future, 
domestic, cultural, agricultural, recreational and industrial uses; and 
to protect any other existing and future beneficial uses of Navajo 
Nation surface waters (Navajo Nation 2008b, p. 1). This is equivalent 
to the Clean Water Act, and the inadequacy of Clean Water Act 
protections described above would apply similarly to the Navajo Nation 
Water Quality Standard of 2007.
    The Navajo Nation Aquatic Resource Protection Program, established 
in March 1994, establishes regulatory standards for protection of 
rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, riparian areas, and other sensitive 
aquatic features on Navajo lands. The goal of the Navajo Nation Aquatic 
Protection Program is to provide for the protection, preservation, and 
enhancement of all aquatic resources, associated habitats, and wildlife 
that are vital to the continued survival and well-being of the people 
of the Navajo Nation. The program regulates development and alterations 
to sensitive areas. This document classifies and lists levels of 
protection for riparian corridors, wetlands, lakes and streams; 
development standards are established for the various areas; and 
management practices were developed to mitigate impacts to the aquatic 
resources. This program requires any development within sensitive areas 
to be evaluated, and some protection for the Zuni bluehead sucker and 
its habitat may be provided through this review process. However, this 
would protect against future development and not provide protection 
from other threats to the species.
    The Navajo Nation has a 10-Year Forest Management Plan (FMP). The 
purpose of the FMP is to establish forest management direction for the 
Defiance Plateau-Chuska Mountains, which include commercial timberland. 
The Forest Management Plan designates Special Management Areas, which 
were recommended to create favorable wildlife habitat and to benefit 
threatened and endangered species, water, soil, recreation, and 
traditional/cultural resources (Navajo Nation 2000, pp. i, 40). Some 
protection is provided in the Kinlichee Creek watershed, where logging 
prescriptions are in place to protect the riparian areas for the Zuni 
bluehead sucker and their habitat through implementation of this 
management plan. However, this plan would protect against future forest 
management and not provide protection from other threats to the 
species.
Summary of Factor D
    Many Federal, State, and Tribal statutes potentially afford 
protection to Zuni bluehead sucker. A few of these are the Federal Land 
Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701-1782), the National Forest 
Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.), and the Clean Water Act (33 
U.S.C. 1251 et seq.). However, in practice, the provisions of these 
statutes that require consideration of rare species have not been able 
to address the threats to the Zuni bluehead sucker.
    In summary, the States' endangered species and water withdrawal 
regulations, as well as the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and 
the National Forest Management Act, are not adequate to protect the 
Zuni bluehead sucker or its habitat. State regulations prohibiting take 
of the

[[Page 43158]]

species have been in place for decades; however, these regulations do 
not address the threats to habitat, particularly water withdrawals, 
impoundments, and the distribution and abundance of nonnative fishes. 
Because most of the threats to the Zuni bluehead sucker are from 
effects to its habitat and the introduction of nonnative, invasive 
species, in order to protect individuals and ensure the species' long-
term conservation and survival, its habitat must be protected. 
Therefore, we conclude these existing regulations are inadequate to 
reduce the impacts of identified threats to the species.

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

    Other natural or manmade factors affecting the continued existence 
of the Zuni bluehead sucker include habitat fragmentation, which is 
intensified by the small sizes of the remaining populations.
Habitat Fragmentation
    Zuni bluehead sucker populations appear to have always been 
relatively isolated from one another, as evidenced by the genetic 
lineages that have been observed (Service 2012b, pers. comm.). The 
further fragmentation of habitat and resulting increased isolation of 
Zuni bluehead sucker populations affects the species rangewide, by 
increasing the risk of population loss and subsequent loss of genetic 
lineages. Dewatering and drought conditions have resulted in 
fragmentation of Zuni bluehead sucker populations, and continued water 
demands are expected to further reduce habitat available to the Zuni 
bluehead sucker and will likely further fragment and isolate 
populations. Fragmentation of Zuni bluehead sucker habitat increases 
the species' vulnerability from threats of further habitat loss and 
competition from nonnative fish because immigration and recolonization 
from adjacent populations is less likely. In-depth analyses of 
southwestern fish occurrence patterns led Fagan et al. (2002, p. 3254) 
to conclude that the number of occurrences or populations of a species 
is far less significant in determining extinction risk than is 
fragmentation of the species. Another source of habitat fragmentation 
is the construction of dams. Dams are known to change the hydraulics of 
the streams in the system, converting many formerly perennial streams 
into semiperennial or ephemeral streams that prevent movement of fish 
between populations and dramatically alter the flow regime of streams 
through the impoundment of water (Ligon et al. 1995, pp. 184-189).
    Small, isolated populations are subject to genetic threats, such as 
inbreeding depression (reduced health due to elevated levels of 
inbreeding) and to genetic drift (a reduction in gene flow within the 
species that can increase the probability of unhealthy traits; Meffe 
and Carroll 1994, pp. 156-157, 166-167). The percent of facial 
deformities have ranged from 3.7 to 12.1 percent of the population at 
Tampico Spring since 2007; these deformities may be attributed to the 
genetic effects of small populations (NMDGF 2013, pp. 22-23). It is not 
known if these deformities will impact the survivability of these Zuni 
bluehead sucker. It remains unclear what factors (genetic, 
environmental stress, or their combination) caused deformities in this 
population. Previous studies have revealed that some deformities in 
fish result from environmental stressors, such as those related to 
temperature (Sato et al. 1983, entire; Abdel et al. 2004, entire), 
mineral nutrition (Baeverfjord et al. 1998, entire), or heavy metals 
(Messaoudi et al. 2009, entire).
    Due to the small reaches of remaining habitat where Zuni bluehead 
suckers occur in relatively low numbers, single populations of Zuni 
bluehead sucker are at high risk of extirpation due to stochastic 
events from other known threats, such as wildfire or episodic drought 
(see Factor A discussion). Zuni bluehead sucker have experienced and 
withstood a number of droughts over time, but given the anticipated 
increased frequency and duration of drought, combined with the reduced 
population size and occupied habitat, the species is at a higher risk 
of extirpation and the species has a reduced resiliency to stochastic 
events.
Summary of Factor E
    The Zuni bluehead sucker populations are highly fragmented within 
small, isolated springs and stream segments, causing them to be 
vulnerable to stochastic events, such as wildfire and episodic drought. 
All known Zuni bluehead sucker populations are small and isolated, 
increasing their vulnerability. Due to the reduction in their range, 
and small population size, the remaining populations of Zuni bluehead 
sucker experience reduced viability; therefore, we conclude that 
habitat fragmentation is a threat to Zuni bluehead sucker.

Cumulative Effects: Factors A Through E

    Many of the threats discussed above act in concert, and the 
resulting effects to Zuni bluehead sucker are amplified. For example, 
the reduction of water quantity restricts the geographic size of the 
population, which causes the species to be more vulnerable to other 
threats, such as beaver dams modifying habitat, an increase in 
nonnative predators, or ash flows from wildfire that may further reduce 
or eliminate the population. The ability of a population to be 
resilient to threats depends on the robustness of the population. For 
Zuni bluehead sucker, the remaining populations are likely not robust. 
They are reduced in size and their habitat has been reduced to a 
fraction of their historical range. Given these circumstances, the 
combined effect of current threats to the populations puts the species 
at risk rangewide. The combined effects of drought and nonnative 
predatory fish may reduce habitat, fragment the remaining habitat, and 
reduce reproductive potential, resulting in fewer fish. The remaining 
populations become less resilient and are not capable of recovering 
from the threats. Reproductive efforts from the Zuni bluehead sucker 
populations will be affected by the threats to their habitat, resulting 
in populations with reduced viabilities.

Determination

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and 
Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based 
on (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for 
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) 
Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its 
continued existence. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of 
the above threat factors, singly or in combination.
    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the Zuni bluehead sucker. Habitat loss from water withdrawals, 
sedimentation, and impoundments is occurring rangewide, has resulted in 
extirpation of the species from all but headwater habitats, and is not 
likely to be reduced in the future (Factor A). The species' range has 
been reduced over 95 percent in New Mexico, and current distribution is 
limited to three populations in 3.7 km (2.3 mi) of streams (Service 
2014a, pers. comm.). Drought frequency and water

[[Page 43159]]

withdrawals are likely to increase, further restricting habitat and 
fragmenting or eliminating populations. Predation from nonnative fish 
is occurring rangewide and has been shown to reduce recruitment and 
population size at one location; this situation is likely impacting 
other populations, as well (Factor C). State wildlife laws and Federal 
regulations such as the National Forest Management Act are not adequate 
to address the threats to the species (Factor D). Additionally, the 
Zuni bluehead sucker is not able to naturally recolonize unoccupied 
areas (Factor E). There is virtually no redundancy of populations 
within each occupied watershed, further increasing the risk of loss of 
representation of existing genetic lineages and, ultimately, 
extinction. These threats have already resulted in the extirpation of 
Zuni bluehead sucker throughout an estimated 95 percent of its New 
Mexico range and are only likely to increase in severity. Although less 
information is available on threats occurring on the Navajo Indian 
Reservation, the information we do have is similar in kind and 
intensity to that for New Mexico. These threats are ongoing, are 
rangewide, are expected to increase in the future, and are significant 
because they further restrict limited available habitat and decrease 
the resiliency of the Zuni bluehead sucker within those habitats.
    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is ``in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range'' and a threatened species as any species ``that is likely to 
become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
within the foreseeable future.'' We find that the Zuni bluehead sucker 
is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range based 
on the severity and immediacy of threats impacting the species. The 
overall range has been significantly reduced, and the remaining habitat 
and populations are threatened by a variety of factors acting in 
combination to reduce the overall viability of the species. The risk of 
extinction is high because the remaining populations are small, 
isolated, and have limited potential for recolonization. Therefore, on 
the basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, 
we have determined that the Zuni bluehead sucker meets the definition 
of an endangered species in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) 
of the Act. We find that a threatened species status is not appropriate 
for the Zuni bluehead sucker because of the contracted range (loss of 
95 percent of its New Mexico range and much reduced in Arizona), 
because the threats are occurring rangewide and are not localized, and 
because the threats are ongoing and expected to continue into the 
future.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. The threats to the survival of the 
species occur throughout the species' range and are not restricted to 
any particular significant portion of that range. Accordingly, our 
assessment and determination applies to the species throughout its 
entire range.
    Listing the Zuni bluehead sucker as a threatened species is not the 
appropriate determination because the ongoing threats described above 
are severe and pose an immediate risk of extinction. These threats 
include habitat destruction, modification and degradation resulting 
from water withdrawal (stream drying), sedimentation, impoundments, and 
livestock grazing. Many of the activities are ongoing throughout the 
range of the Zuni bluehead sucker, and climate change is anticipated to 
cause more periods of drought, exacerbating the effects of water 
withdrawal, sedimentation, and livestock grazing. Additionally, 
predation by nonnative green sunfish and crayfish, which are present 
within or near occupied sites of Zuni bluehead, has the ability to 
limit recruitment and reduce population size. The small population size 
and restricted range of the species make the Zuni bluehead sucker 
population vulnerable to stochastic events, such as wildfire and 
drought. Therefore, all of these factors combined lead us to conclude 
that the threat of extinction is high and immediate, thus warranting a 
determination of an endangered species rather than a threatened species 
for the Zuni bluehead sucker.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private 
organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.
    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to 
develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address 
continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive 
information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five 
factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be 
downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. 
Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate 
their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of 
implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species 
experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and 
stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When 
completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final 
recovery plan will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered endangered), or from our New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribal, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily

[[Page 43160]]

or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species 
requires cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal 
lands.
    Following publication of this final listing rule, funding for 
recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including 
Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal 
landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. 
In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of Arizona 
and New Mexico would be eligible for Federal funds to implement 
management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the Zuni 
bluehead sucker. Information on our grant programs that are available 
to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Please let us know if you are interested in participating in 
recovery efforts for the Zuni bluehead sucker. Additionally, we invite 
you to submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes 
available and any information you may have for recovery planning 
purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an 
endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical 
habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of a species proposed for listing or result in 
destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a 
species is listed subsequently, section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the 
species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a 
Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the 
Service.
    Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require 
conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding 
paragraph include management and any other landscape-altering 
activities on Federal lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service and U.S. Forest Service, issuance of section 404 Clean Water 
Act permits by the Army Corps of Engineers; and construction and 
maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal Highway Administration.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to endangered wildlife. 
The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act, codified at 50 CFR 
17.21 make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the 
United States to take (which includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect; or to attempt any of 
these) endangered wildlife within the United States or on the high 
seas. In addition, it is unlawful to import; export; deliver, receive, 
carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the 
course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate 
or foreign commerce any listed species. It is also illegal to possess, 
sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has 
been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to employees of the 
Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, other Federal land 
management agencies, and State conservation agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations 
governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22. With regard to 
endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes: 
For scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the 
species, and for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful 
activities. There are also certain statutory exemptions from the 
prohibitions, which are found in sections 9 and 10 of the Act.
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a listing on 
proposed and ongoing activities within the range of listed species. 
Based on the best available information, the following activities may 
potentially result in a violation of section 9 the Act; this list is 
not comprehensive:
    (1) Unauthorized collecting, handling, possessing, selling, 
delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species;
    (2) Introduction of nonnative species that compete with or prey 
upon the Zuni bluehead sucker, such as the introduction of nonnative 
green sunfish and/or nonnative trout to the States of Arizona and New 
Mexico;
    (3) Release of biological control agents that attack any life stage 
of this species;
    (4) Modification of the channel or water flow of any stream or 
removal or destruction of emergent aquatic vegetation in any body of 
water in which the Zuni bluehead sucker is known to occur; and
    (5) Discharge of chemicals or fill material into any waters in 
which the Zuni bluehead sucker is known to occur.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the New Mexico 
Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Required Determinations

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

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

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, 
Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), 
we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with 
tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge 
that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal 
public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make 
information available to tribes.
    We began government-to-government consultation with these tribes 
through the public comment period and during the development of the 
final listing determination. The Navajo Nation, Ramah Navajo, and Zuni 
Pueblo are the main Tribes affected by this final rule.

[[Page 43161]]

We sent notification letters in July of 2012 to each Tribe describing 
the exclusion process under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, and we have 
engaged in conversation with the Tribes about the proposed listing and 
critical habitat rules to the extent possible without disclosing 
predecisional information. We have maintained contact with Navajo 
Nation, Ramah Navajo Chapter, and Zuni Pueblo through letters, phone 
calls, and emails, and we have provided each tribe with notice of 
publication dates of various documents.
    Navajo Nation--We coordinated several survey efforts with Navajo 
Nation in 2012 and 2013. A coordination meeting was held in March 2013 
to gain a better understanding of the Nation's position and concerns 
regarding the proposed listing and designation of critical habitat. We 
received comments from the Nation during the first open comment period. 
Their comment letter provided information regarding applicable laws and 
fish, wildlife, and environmental plans that would offer some 
protection to the Zuni bluehead sucker. In addition, their letter 
stated their concerns regarding the taxonomic status of the Zuni 
bluehead sucker on the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation is working with 
us to develop a Navajo Nation Fisheries Management Plan.
    Ramah Navajo Chapter--We did not receive comments from the Ramah 
Navajo Chapter. However, we did make a site visit in January 2014 to 
evaluate proposed designation of critical habitat.
    Zuni Pueblo--We did not receive comments from Zuni Pueblo. However, 
we have encouraged Zuni Pueblo to develop a Fisheries Management Plan 
for the Zuni bluehead sucker.

References Cited

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

Authors

    The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the 
New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

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

PART 17--[AMENDED]

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

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


0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by adding an entry for ``Sucker, Zuni 
bluehead'' to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 
alphabetical order under Fishes to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                             Vertebrate  population
-------------------------------------------------------   Historic range     where  endangered or      Status       When       Critical       Special
          Common name               Scientific name                               threatened                       listed      habitat         rules
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                                                                      * * * * * * *
Fishes
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Sucker, Zuni bluehead.........  Catostomus discobolus   U.S.A. (AZ, NM)..  Entire.................  E...........       839  NA...........  NA
                                 yarrowi.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
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* * * * *

    Dated: July 2, 2014.
 Stephen D. Guertin,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-17205 Filed 7-23-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P