[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 215 (Thursday, November 6, 2014)]
[Pages 65982-65983]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-26362]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2014-N167; FXES11130400000C2-145-FF04E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Recovery 
Plan for Georgia Pigtoe Mussel, Interrupted Rocksnail, and Rough 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the final recovery plan for the endangered Georgia pigtoe mussel, 
interrupted rocksnail, and rough hornsnail. The final recovery plan 
includes specific recovery objectives and criteria the interrupted 
rocksnail and rough hornsnail would have to meet in order for us to 
downlist them to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). Recovery criteria for the Georgia pigtoe will 
be developed after we complete critical recovery actions and gain a 
greater understanding of the species.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the recovery plan by contacting 
Jeff Powell at the Alabama Field Office, by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Alabama Field Office, 1208-B Main Street, Daphne, AL 
36526, or by telephone at (251) 441-5858; or by visiting our recovery 
plan Web site at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html.




    We listed the Georgia pigtoe mussel (Pleurobema hanleyianum), 
interrupted rocksnail (Leptoxis foremani), and rough hornsnail 
(Pleurocera foremani) as endangered species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) on November 2, 2010 (75 FR 67512). All three species are 
endemic to the Coosa River drainage of the Mobile River Basin in 
Alabama and Georgia; the Georgia pigtoe also occurs in a Coosa River 
tributary in Tennessee. All three species have disappeared from 90 
percent or more of their historical ranges, primarily due to 
impoundment of riverine habitats. A single population of interrupted 
rocksnail is known to survive in the Oostanaula River, Georgia. There 
are five localized populations of rough hornsnail, one each in 
Yellowleaf Creek, Alabama; lower Walnut Creek, Alabama; lower Hatchet 
and Weogufka Creeks,

[[Page 65983]]

Alabama; and the lower Coosa River, Alabama. Surviving populations of 
Georgia pigtoe occur in the Conasauga River, Georgia, and possibly in 
the Coosa River (Weiss Bypass), Alabama. Both the rough hornsnail and 
interrupted rocksnail are State listed as a Priority 1 (P1) species in 
Alabama, while the Georgia pigtoe is State listed as endangered in 
    Approximately 258 km (160 mi) of stream channels in the Coosa River 
drainage have been designated as critical habitat for the interrupted 
rocksnail (101 km (63 mi)), rough hornsnail (27.4 km (17 mi)), and 
Georgia pigtoe mussel (153 km (95 mi)). Critical habitat is located in 
Cherokee, Clay, Coosa, Elmore and Shelby Counties, Alabama; Gordon, 
Floyd, Murray, and Whitfield Counties, Georgia; and Bradley and Polk 
Counties, Tennessee.
    The Georgia pigtoe mussel has a Federal recovery priority number of 
5, which indicates that the species faces a high degree of threat but 
also has a low recovery potential. The interrupted rocksnail and rough 
hornsnail both have a recovery priority number of 2, which indicates 
that both species are facing a high degree of threat but have a high 
recovery potential.


    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help guide the 
recovery effort, we prepare recovery plans for most listed species. 
Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for conservation 
of the species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting, and 
estimate time and cost for implementing recovery measures.
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all information presented 
during a public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised 
recovery plan. We and other Federal agencies will take these comments 
into account in the course of implementing approved recovery plans.
    We made the draft of this recovery plan available for public 
comment from July 3, 2013, through September 3, 2013 (78 FR 40162). We 
received no public comments. We considered the information received 
from peer reviewers in our preparation and approval of this final 
recovery plan.

Recovery Plan Components

    The Service's recovery objectives are to work to reduce threats so 
that the interrupted rocksnail and rough hornsnail may be downlisted to 
threatened status, and to prevent further decline of the Georgia 
pigtoe's Conasauga River population and prevent extinction of the 
species as a whole. Defining reasonable downlisting or delisting 
criteria for the Georgia pigtoe is not possible at this time, given the 
current low number of populations and individuals, lack of information 
about the species' biology, and magnitude of threats. Therefore, this 
recovery plan only establishes downlisting criteria for the two snails. 
Instead of establishing downlisting or delisting criteria at this time 
for Georgia pigtoe, we are identifying preliminary actions to help us 
prevent its extinction until we can obtain further information on this 
species and determine recovery criteria.
    Downlisting of the interrupted rocksnail and rough hornsnail will 
be considered when we:
    1. Protect and manage at least three geographically distinct 
populations for each species (to achieve this criterion, the 
populations can include the Oostanaula for the interrupted rocksnail 
and Yellowleaf Creek and Lower Coosa River for the rough hornsnail);
    2. Achieve demonstrated and sustainable natural reproduction and 
recruitment in each population for each species as evident by multiple 
age classes of individuals, including naturally recruited juveniles, 
and recruitment rates exceeding mortality rates for a period of 5 
years; and
    3. Develop and implement habitat and population monitoring programs 
for each population.
    The following actions are identified as necessary to help prevent 
the extinction of the Georgia pigtoe:
    1. Maintain, and where possible conduct efforts to improve, the 
Conasauga River population;
    2. Develop and implement a monitoring plan to evaluate population 
size in response to management actions;
    3. Develop a captive propagation program and establish an ark 
population (a secure, maintained captive population) to help support 
the Conasauga River population;
    4. Conduct research, such as identification of an appropriate fish 
host, that is important to gain better understanding of this mussel's 
life history; and
    5. Identify, monitor, and where possible improve potential 
reintroduction sites in the species' historic range.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f).

    Dated: August 20, 2014.
Mike Oetker,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2014-26362 Filed 11-4-14; 8:45 am]