[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 195 (Thursday, October 8, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61029-61081]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-25290]



[[Page 61029]]

Vol. 80

Thursday,

No. 195

October 8, 2015

Part IV





Department of the Interior





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





Fish and Wildlife Service





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





50 CFR Part 17





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical 
Habitat for Kentucky Arrow Darter; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 80 , No. 195 / Thursday, October 8, 2015 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 61030]]


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

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2015-0133; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-BB05


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of 
Critical Habitat for Kentucky Arrow Darter

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
designate critical habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter (Etheostoma 
spilotum) under the Endangered Species Act (Act). In total, 
approximately 395 stream kilometers (skm) (246 stream miles (smi)) are 
being proposed for designation of critical habitat for the Kentucky 
arrow darter in Breathitt, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Lee, Leslie, 
Owsley, Perry, and Wolfe Counties, Kentucky. If we finalize this rule 
as proposed, it would extend the Act's protections to this species' 
critical habitat. We also announce the availability of our draft 
economic analysis of the proposed designation.

DATES: We will accept comments on the proposed rule or draft economic 
analysis that are received or postmarked on or before December 7, 2015. 
Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
(see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on 
the closing date. We must receive requests for public hearings, in 
writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 
November 23, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Written comments: You may submit comments on the proposed 
rule or draft economic analysis by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-
2015-0133, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the 
Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type 
heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You 
may submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2015-0133; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see Information Requested, below, for more information).
    Document availability: The draft economic analysis is available at 
http://www.fws.gov/frankfort/, at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket 
No. FWS-R4-ES-2015-0133, and at the Kentucky Ecological Services Field 
Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    The coordinates, plot points, or both from which the maps are 
generated are included in the administrative record for this critical 
habitat designation and are available at http://www.fws.gov/frankfort/, 
at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2015-0133, and at 
the Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office) (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). Any additional tools or supporting information 
that we may develop for this critical habitat designation will also be 
available at the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site and Field Office 
set out above, and may also be included in this rule or at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Virgil Lee Andrews, Jr., Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Ecological 
Services Field Office, 330 West Broadway, Suite 265, Frankfort, KY 
40601; telephone 502-695-0468, x108; facsimile 502-695-1024. If you use 
a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act, 
when we determine that a species is threatened or endangered, we must 
designate critical habitat to the maximum extent prudent and 
determinable. Designations of critical habitat can only be completed by 
issuing a rule.
    This document consists of a proposed rule to designate critical 
habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter. Elsewhere in today's Federal 
Register, we propose to list the Kentucky arrow darter as a threatened 
species under the Act.
    The basis for our action. Section 4(a)(3) of the Act requires the 
Secretary to designate critical habitat, to the maximum extent prudent 
and determinable, for an endangered or threatened species at the time 
it is listed. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary 
shall designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of 
the best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if she determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless she determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. We have determined that designating critical habitat is both 
prudent and determinable, and we propose a total of approximately 395 
skm (246 smi) of critical habitat in eastern Kentucky.
    We prepared a draft economic analysis of the proposed designation 
of critical habitat. In order to consider economic impacts, we have 
prepared a draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat 
designation and related factors.
    We will seek peer review. We are seeking comments from independent 
specialists to ensure that this critical habitat proposal is based on 
scientifically sound data and analyses. We have invited these peer 
reviewers to comment on our specific assumptions and conclusions in 
this proposal to designate critical habitat. Because we will consider 
all comments and information we receive during the comment period, our 
final designation may differ from this proposal.

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and 
be as accurate and effective as possible. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from other concerned government agencies, 
Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any 
other interested party concerning this proposed rule. We particularly 
seek comments concerning:
    (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as 
``critical habitat'' under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) including whether there are threats to the species from human 
activity, the degree of which can be expected to increase due to the 
designation, and whether that increase in threat outweighs the benefit 
of designation such that the designation of critical habitat may not be 
prudent.

[[Page 61031]]

    (2) Specific information on:
    (a) The amount and distribution of Kentucky arrow darter habitat;
    (b) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing (i.e., 
are currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the 
conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and 
why;
    (c) Special management considerations or protection that may be 
needed in critical habitat areas we are proposing, including managing 
for the potential effects of climate change; and
    (d) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential 
for the conservation of the species and why.
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the 
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat.
    (4) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of 
climate change on the Kentucky arrow darter and proposed critical 
habitat.
    (5) Any probable economic, national security, or other relevant 
impacts of designating any area that may be included in the final 
designation, and the benefits of including or excluding areas that 
exhibit these impacts.
    (6) Information on the extent to which the description of economic 
impacts in the draft economic analysis (DEA) is a reasonable estimate 
of the likely economic impacts.
    (7) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation 
of critical habitat, as discussed in the associated documents of the 
draft economic analysis, and how the consequences of such reactions, if 
likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory 
benefits of the proposed critical habitat designation.
    (8) Whether any specific areas we are proposing for critical 
habitat designation should be considered for exclusion under section 
4(b)(2) of the Act, and whether the benefits of potentially excluding 
any specific area outweigh the benefits of including that area under 
section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
    (9) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating 
critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation 
and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and 
comments.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you 
send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES.
    All comments submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov will be presented on the Web site in their entirety 
as submitted. For comments submitted via hard copy, we will post your 
entire comment--including your personal identifying information--on 
http://www.regulations.gov. You may request at the top of your document 
that we withhold personal information such as your street address, 
phone number, or email address from public review; however, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Previous Federal Actions

    All previous Federal actions are described in the proposal to list 
the Kentucky arrow darter as a threatened species under the Act, which 
is published elsewhere in today's Federal Register.

Critical Habitat

Background
    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
    (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which 
are found those physical or biological features:
    (a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and
    (b) Which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and
    (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas 
are essential for the conservation of the species.
    Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use 
and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring 
an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and 
procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated 
with scientific resources management such as research, census, law 
enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live 
trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where 
population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise 
relieved, may include regulated taking.
    Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act 
through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation 
with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is 
not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or 
other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government 
or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require 
implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by 
non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency 
funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species 
or critical habitat, the consultation requirements of section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act would apply, but even in the event of a destruction or 
adverse modification finding, the obligation of the Federal action 
agency and the landowner is not to restore or recover the species, but 
to implement reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid destruction 
or adverse modification of critical habitat.
    Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they 
contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the 
conservation of the species and (2) which may require special 
management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical 
habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best 
scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological 
features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as 
space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those 
physical and biological features within an area, we focus on the 
principal biological or physical constituent elements (primary 
constituent elements such as roost sites, nesting grounds, seasonal 
wetlands, water quality, tide, soil type) that are essential to the 
conservation of the species. Primary constituent elements are those 
specific elements of the physical or biological features that provide 
for a species' life-history processes and are essential to the 
conservation of the species.
    Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat, 
we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical 
area occupied

[[Page 61032]]

by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such 
areas are essential for the conservation of the species. For example, 
an area currently occupied by the species but that was not occupied at 
the time of listing may be essential for the conservation of the 
species and may be included in the critical habitat designation. We 
designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by a species only when a designation limited to its range 
would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species.
    Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on 
the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on 
Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in 
the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information 
Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government 
Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), 
and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria, 
establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions 
are based on the best scientific data available. They require our 
biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of 
the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources 
of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical 
habitat.
    When we are determining which areas should be designated as 
critical habitat, our primary source of information is generally the 
information developed during the listing process for the species. 
Additional information sources may include the recovery plan for the 
species, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conservation plans 
developed by States and counties, scientific status surveys and 
studies, biological assessments, other unpublished materials, or 
experts' opinions or personal knowledge.
    Habitat is dynamic, and species may move from one area to another 
over time. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a 
particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that 
we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. 
For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that 
habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed 
for recovery of the species. Areas that are important to the 
conservation of the listed species, both inside and outside the 
critical habitat designation, will continue to be subject to: (1) 
Conservation actions implemented under section 7(a)(1) of the Act, (2) 
regulatory protections afforded by the requirement in section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act for Federal agencies to ensure their actions are not likely 
to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened 
species, and (3) section 9 of the Act's prohibitions on taking any 
individual of the species, including taking caused by actions that 
affect habitat. Federally funded or permitted projects affecting listed 
species outside their designated critical habitat areas may still 
result in jeopardy findings in some cases. If we list the Kentucky 
arrow darter, these protections and conservation tools would continue 
to contribute to recovery of this species. Similarly, critical habitat 
designations made on the basis of the best available information at the 
time of designation will not control the direction and substance of 
future recovery plans, habitat conservation plans (HCPs), or other 
species conservation planning efforts if new information available at 
the time of these planning efforts calls for a different outcome.
Prudency Determination
    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent 
prudent and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical 
habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or 
threatened species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that 
the designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of 
the following situations exist:
    (1) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity, 
and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 
degree of threat to the species, or
    (2) Such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to 
the species.
    As discussed in the proposed listing rule, there is currently no 
imminent threat of take attributed to collection or vandalism (listing 
factor B) for this species, and identification and mapping of critical 
habitat is not expected to initiate any such threat. In the absence of 
finding that the designation of critical habitat would increase threats 
to a species, if there are any benefits to a critical habitat 
designation, then a prudent finding is warranted. Here, the potential 
benefits of designation include: (1) Triggering consultation under 
section 7 of the Act, in areas for actions in which there may be a 
Federal nexus where it would not otherwise occur because, for example, 
it is or has become unoccupied or the occupancy is in question; (2) 
focusing conservation activities on the most essential features and 
areas; (3) providing educational benefits to State or county 
governments or private entities; and (4) reducing the potential for 
people to cause inadvertent harm to the species. Because we have 
determined that the designation of critical habitat will not likely 
increase the degree of threat to the species and may provide some 
measure of benefit, we find that designation of critical habitat is 
prudent for the Kentucky arrow darter.
Critical Habitat Determinability
    Having determined that designation is prudent under section 4(a)(3) 
of the Act, we must find whether critical habitat for the Kentucky 
arrow darter is determinable. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) 
state that critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the 
following situations exist:
    (i) Information sufficient to perform required analyses of the 
impacts of the designation is lacking, or
    (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well 
known to permit identification of an area as critical habitat.
    When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the 
Service an additional year to publish a critical habitat designation 
(16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)).
    We have reviewed the available information pertaining to the 
biological needs of the species and characteristics of the species' 
habitat. This and other information represent the best scientific data 
available and led us to conclude that the designation of critical 
habitat is determinable for the Kentucky arrow darter.
Physical or Biological Features
    In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act and regulations at 
50 CFR 424.12(b), in determining which areas within the geographical 
area occupied by the species at the time of listing to designate as 
critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological features that 
are essential to the conservation of the species and which may require 
special management considerations or protection. These include, but are 
not limited to:
    (1) Space for individual and population growth and for normal 
behavior;
    (2) Food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;
    (3) Cover or shelter;
    (4) Sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing (or development) 
of offspring; and

[[Page 61033]]

    (5) Habitats that are protected from disturbance or are 
representative of the historic, geographical, and ecological 
distributions of a species.
    We derive the specific physical or biological features essential 
for the Kentucky arrow darter from studies of its habitat, ecology, and 
life history as described below. Additional information can be found in 
the proposed listing rule published elsewhere in today's Federal 
Register. To identify the physical or biological features essential to 
the conservation of the species, we have relied on current conditions 
at locations where the species survives, the limited information 
available on the species and its closest relatives, and factors 
associated with the decline of other fishes that occupy similar 
habitats in the Southeast. We have determined that the following 
physical or biological features are essential to the Kentucky arrow 
darter.
Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior
    Little is known about the specific space requirements of the 
Kentucky arrow darter; however, the species is typically observed in 
moderate- to high-gradient, first- to third-order, geomorphically 
stable streams (Lotrich 1973, p. 382; Thomas 2008, p. 6). 
Geomorphically stable streams transport sediment while maintaining 
their horizontal and vertical dimensions (width to depth ratio and 
cross-sectional area), pattern (sinuosity), and longitudinal profile 
(riffles, runs, and pools), thereby conserving the physical 
characteristics of the stream, including bottom features such as 
riffles, runs, and pools and the transition zones between these 
features (Rosgen 1996, p. 1-3). The protection and maintenance of these 
habitat features accommodate spawning, rearing, growth, migration, and 
other normal behaviors of the species.
    During most of the year (late spring through winter), Kentucky 
arrow darters occupy shallow pools between 10-45 centimeters (cm) (4-18 
inches (in)) or transitional areas between riffles and pools (runs and 
glides) with cobble and boulder substrates that are interspersed with 
clean (relatively silt free) sand and gravel (Lotrich 1973, p. 382; 
Thomas 2008, p. 6). Most individuals are encountered near some type of 
instream cover: Large cobble, boulders, bedrock ledges, or woody debris 
piles (Thomas 2008, p. 6). During the spawning period (April through 
June), Kentucky arrow darters utilize riffle habitats with relatively 
silt free, gravel, cobble, and sand substrates (Kuehne and Barbour 
1983, p. 71). Streams inhabitated by Kentucky arrow darters tend to be 
clear and cool (generally less than or equal to 24 degrees Celsius 
([deg]C) (72 degrees Fahrenheit ([deg]F))), with shaded corridors and 
naturally vegetated, intact riparian zones (Lotrich 1973, p. 378; 
Thomas 2008, pp. 7, 23).
    Limited information exists about upstream or downstream movements 
of Kentucky arrow darters; however, there is evidence that the species 
can utilize relatively long stream reaches. Observations by Lowe (1979, 
pp. 26-27) of potential dispersal behavior for a related species (the 
Cumberland arrow darter (Etheostoma sagitta)) in Tennessee, preliminary 
findings from a movement study at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), 
and recent survey results by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife 
Resources (KDFWR) suggest that Kentucky arrow darters can utilize 
stream reaches of over 4 skm (2.5 smi) and disperse to other 
tributaries (Baxter 2014, pers. comm.; Thomas 2015, pers. comm.) (see 
``Habitat and Life History'' section of our proposed listing rule 
published elsewhere in today's Federal Register).
    The current range of the Kentucky arrow darter has been reduced 
from 74 historically occupied streams to 47 currently occupied streams 
due to destruction, modification, and fragmentation of habitat. 
Fragmentation of the species' habitat has subjected these small 
populations to genetic isolation, reduced space for rearing and 
reproduction, reduced adaptive capabilities, and an increased 
likelihood of local extinctions (Burkhead et al. 1997, pp. 397-399; 
Hallerman 2003, pp. 363-364). Genetic variation and diversity within a 
species are essential to recovery, adaptation to environmental change, 
and long-term viability (capability to live, reproduce, and develop) 
(Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 282-297; Harris 1984, pp. 93-107; 
Fluker et al. 2007, p. 2). The long-term viability of a species is 
founded on the conservation of numerous local populations throughout 
its geographic range (Harris 1984, pp. 93-104). Connectivity of these 
habitats is essential in preventing further fragmentation and isolation 
of Kentucky arrow darter populations and promoting species movement and 
genetic flow between populations.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify shallow 
pools, runs, glides, and riffles and associated stream segments of 
geomorphically stable, first- to third-order streams to be physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Kentucky arrow 
darter. The maintenance of these habitats is essential in accommodating 
feeding, breeding, growth, and other normal behaviors of the Kentucky 
arrow darter and in promoting gene flow within the species.
Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or 
Physiological Requirements
    Feeding habits of the Kentucky arrow darter were documented by 
Lotrich (1973, pp. 380-382) in the Clemons Fork system, Breathitt 
County, Kentucky. The primary prey item was mayflies (Order 
Ephemeroptera), which comprised 77 percent of identifiable food items 
(420 of 542 items) in 57 Kentucky arrow darter stomachs (Lotrich 1973, 
p. 381). Large Kentucky arrow darters (greater than 70 millimeters (mm) 
(2.8 in) total length (TL)) utilized small crayfishes, as 7 of 8 
stomachs examined by Lotrich (1973, p. 381) contained crayfishes 
ranging in size from 11 to 24 mm (0.4 to 0.9 in). Lotrich (1973, p. 
381) considered this to be noteworthy because stomachs of small 
Kentucky arrow darters (less than 70 mm (2.8 in) TL) and stomachs of 
other darter species did not contain crayfishes. Other food items 
reported by Lotrich (1973, p. 381) and Etnier and Starnes (1993, p. 
523) included larval blackflies (family Simuliidae) and midges 
(Chironomidae), with lesser amounts of caddisfly larvae, stonefly 
nymphs, and beetle larvae. Etnier and Starnes (1993, p. 523) reported 
that juvenile arrow darters feed on microcrustaceans and dipteran 
larvae.
    Like most other darters, the Kentucky arrow darter depends on 
perennial stream flows that create suitable habitat conditions needed 
for successful completion of its life cycle. An ample supply of flowing 
water provides a means of transporting nutrients and food items, 
moderating water temperatures and dissolved oxygen levels, removing 
fine sediments that could damage spawning or foraging habitats, and 
diluting nonpoint-source pollutants. Water withdrawals do not represent 
a significant threat to the species, but the species is faced with 
occasional low-flow conditions that occur during periods of drought.
    Water quality is also important to the persistence of the Kentucky 
arrow darter. The species requires relatively clean, cool, flowing 
water to successfully complete its life cycle. Specific water quality 
requirements, such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH (a measure of 
the acidity or alkalinity of water), and conductivity (a measure of 
electrical conductance in the water column that increases as the 
concentration of dissolved solids

[[Page 61034]]

increases), that define suitable habitat conditions for the Kentucky 
arrow darter have not been determined; however, the species appears to 
be sensitive to elevated conductivity and is generally absent when 
levels exceed 350 microsiemens ([micro]S)/cm. In general, optimal water 
quality conditions for fishes and other aquatic organisms are 
characterized by (1) moderate stream temperatures (generally less than 
or equal to 24 [deg]C (72 [deg]F) for the Kentucky arrow darter); (2) 
acceptable dissolved oxygen concentrations; and (3) the lack of harmful 
levels of pollutants, such as inorganic contaminants like iron, 
manganese, selenium, and cadmium; organic contaminants such as human 
and animal waste products; pesticides and herbicides; nitrogen, 
potassium, and phosphorus fertilizers; and petroleum distillates.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify aquatic 
macroinvertebrate prey items, which are typically dominated by 
mayflies; permanent surface flows, as measured during average rainfall 
years; and adequate water quality to be physical or biological features 
essential to the conservaton of the Kentucky arrow darter.
Cover or Shelter
    Kentucky arrow darters depend on specific habitats and bottom 
substrates for normal life processes such as spawning, rearing, 
resting, and foraging. As described above, the species typically 
inhabits shallow pools, riffles, runs, and glides dominated by cobble 
and boulder substrates and interspersed with clean sand and gravel and 
low levels of siltation (Thomas 2008, p. 6; Service unpublished data). 
Kentucky arrow darters are typically observed near some type of cover 
(boulders, rock ledges, large cobble, or woody debris piles) and at 
depths ranging from 10 to 91 cm (4 to 36 in) (Thomas 2008, p. 6; 
Service unpublished data). Sedimentation (siltation) has been listed 
repeatedly as a threat to the Kentucky arrow darter (Kuehne and Barbour 
1983, p. 71; Etnier and Starnes 1993, p. 523; Thomas 2008, pp. 3-7), 
and the species has suffered population declines and extirpations where 
sedimentation has been severe (Etnier and Starnes 1993, p. 524; Thomas 
2008, p. 7; Service 2012, p. 1). Substrates with low levels of 
siltation are essential in accommodating the species' feeding, 
breeding, growth, and other normal behaviors. The term ``low levels of 
siltation'' is defined for the purpose of this rule as silt or fine 
sand within interstitial spaces of substrates in amounts low enough to 
have minimal impact (i.e., that would have no appreciable reduction in 
spawing, breeding, growth, and feeding) to the species.
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify stable, 
shallow pools, runs, and glides with boulder and cobble substrates, 
ample cover (e.g., slab rocks, bedrock ledges, woody debris piles), to 
be physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Kentucky arrow darter.
Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing (or Development) of 
Offspring
    Prior to spawning, male Kentucky arrow darters establish 
territories over riffles from March to May, when they are quite 
conspicuous in water 5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in) deep (Kuehne and Barbour 
1983, p. 71). Males fan out a depression in the substrate (typically a 
mixture of cobble, gravel, and sand) and defend these sites vigorously. 
Initial courtship behavior involves rapid dashes, fin-flaring, nudging, 
and quivering motions by the male followed by similar quivering 
responses of the female, who then precedes the male to the nest. The 
female partially buries herself in the gravel substrate, is mounted by 
the male, and spawning occurs (Etnier and Starnes 1993, p. 523). It is 
assumed that the male continues to defend the nest until the eggs have 
hatched. The spawning period extends from April to June, but peak 
activity occurs when water temperatures reach 13 [deg]C (55 [deg]F), 
typically in mid-April (Bailey 1948, pp. 82-84; Lowe 1979, p. 44). 
Females produce between 200 and 600 eggs per season, with tremendous 
variation resulting from size, age, condition of females, and stream 
temperature (Rakes 2014, pers. comm.). As mentioned above, substrates 
with low levels of siltation are essential in accommodating the 
species' normal behaviors, including breeding, reproduction, and 
rearing. The species has suffered population declines and extirpations 
where sedimentation has been severe (Etnier and Starnes 1993, p. 524; 
Thomas 2008, p. 7; Service 2012, p. 1).
    Juvenile arrow darters can exceed 25 mm (1 in) TL by mid-June and 
grow up to 50 mm (2 in) TL during the first year (Kuehne and Barbour 
1983, p. 71; Etnier and Starnes 1993, p. 523). Juvenile arrow darters 
can be found throughout the channel but are often observed in shallow 
water along stream margins near roots mats, rock ledges, or some other 
cover. One-year olds are generally sexually mature and participate in 
spawning along with older classes (Etnier and Starnes 1993, p. 523). As 
stream flow lessens and riffles begin to shrink, most arrow darters 
move into pools and tend to remain there even when summer and autumn 
rains restore stream flow (Kuehne and Barbour 1983, p. 71).
    Therefore, based on the information above, we identify first- to 
third-order streams containing moderately flowing riffle, pool, run, 
and glide habitats with gravel and cobble substrates, root mats along 
the bank, undercut banks, and low levels of siltation to be physical or 
biological features essential to the conservation of the Kentucky arrow 
darter.

Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Representative of the Historic, 
Geographical, and Ecological Distributions of the Species

    As described above, stable substrates with low levels of siltation, 
adequate water quality, and healthy aquatic insect populations are 
habitat features essential to the Kentucky arrow darter. Historically, 
first- to third-order streams across the species' range would have 
contained these habitat features.
    All current and historical capture locations of the Kentucky arrow 
darter are from first- to third-order order, warmwater streams within 
the upper Kentucky River drainage (Gilbert 1887, pp. 53-54; Woolman 
1892, pp. 275-281; Kuehne and Bailey 1961, pp. 3-4; Kuehne 1962, pp. 
608-609; Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, entire). The species was 
historically distributed in at least six sub-basins of the Kentucky 
River, but it is now extirpated from at least 36 historical streams 
within those sub-basins. Forty-four percent of the species' 
extirpations (16 streams) have occurred since the mid-1990s, and the 
species appears to have disappeared completely from several minor 
watersheds (e.g., Sexton Creek, South Fork Quicksand Creek, Troublesome 
Creek headwaters). Most remaining populations are highly fragmented and 
restricted to short stream reaches. Given the species' reduced range 
and fragmented distribution, it is vulnerable to extirpation from 
intentional or accidental toxic chemical spills, habitat modification, 
progressive degradation from runoff (nonpoint-source pollutants), 
natural catastrophic changes to their habitat (e.g., flood scour, 
drought), and other stochastic disturbances, such as loss of genetic 
variation and inbreeding (Soul[eacute] 1980, pp. 157-158; Hunter 2002, 
pp. 97-101; Allendorf and Luikart 2007, pp. 117-146). In addition, the 
level of isolation seen in this species makes natural repopulation 
following localized extirpations virtually impossible without human 
intervention. Greater connectivity within extant populations

[[Page 61035]]

is needed to provide some protection against these threats and would be 
more representative of the historic, geographical distribution of the 
species.
    Based on the biological information and needs discussed above, we 
identify stable, undisturbed stream beds and banks, and ability for 
populations to be distributed in multiple first- to third-order streams 
throughout the upper Kentucky River drainage that are protected from 
disturbance or are representative of the historic, geographical, and 
ecological distributions of the species to be physical or biological 
features essential to the conservation of the Kentucky arrow darter.
Primary Constituent Elements for the Kentucky Arrow Darter
    According to 50 CFR 424.12(b), we are required to identify the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Kentucky arrow darter in areas occupied at the time of listing, 
focusing on the features' primary constituent elements. We consider 
primary constituent elements to be those specific elements of the 
physical or biological features that provide for a species' life-
history processes and are essential to the conservation of the species.
    Based on our current knowledge of the physical or biological 
features and habitat characteristics required to sustain the species' 
life-history processes, we determine that the primary constituent 
elements specific to the Kentucky arrow darter are:
    (1) Primary Constituent Element 1--Riffle-pool complexes and 
transitional areas (glides and runs) of geomorphically stable, first- 
to third-order streams with connectivity between spawning, foraging, 
and resting sites to promote gene flow throughout the species' range.
    (2) Primary Constituent Element 2--Stable bottom substrates 
composed of gravel, cobble, boulders, bedrock ledges, and woody debris 
piles with low levels of siltation.
    (3) Primary Constituent Element 3--An instream flow regime 
(magnitude, frequency, duration, and seasonality of discharge over 
time) sufficient to provide permanent surface flows, as measured during 
years with average rainfall, and to maintain benthic habitats utilized 
by the species.
    (4) Primary Constituent Element 4--Adequate water quality 
characterized by moderate stream temperatures, acceptable dissolved 
oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, and low levels of pollutants. 
Adequate water quality is defined for the purpose of this rule as the 
quality necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all 
life stages of the Kentucky arrow darter.
    (5) Primary Constituent Element 5--A prey base of aquatic 
macroinvertebrates, including mayfly nymphs, midge larvae, caddisfly 
larvae, stonefly nymphs, and small crayfishes.
Special Management Considerations or Protection
    When designating critical habitat, we assess whether the specific 
areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time 
of listing contain features which are essential to the conservation of 
the species and which may require special management considerations or 
protection. The 38 units we are proposing to designate as critical 
habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter will require some level of 
management to address the current and future threats to the physical or 
biological features of the species. Due to their location on the Daniel 
Boone National Forest (DBNF), at least a portion of 20 proposed 
critical habitat units (Units 15-16, 18-32, and 36-38) are being 
managed and protected under DBNF's land and resource management plan 
(LRMP) (United States Forest Service (USFS) 2004, pp. 1-14), and 
additional conservation measures will be provided upon completion of a 
candidate conservation agreement between DBNF and the Service (see 
Available Conservation Measures section of the proposed listing rule 
published elsewhere in today's Federal Register).
    Two of the 38 proposed critical habitat units (Units 3 and 4) are 
located wholly (Unit 3) or partially (Unit 4) on State property, 
specifically Robinson Forest, a 4,047-hectare (10,000-acre) research, 
education, and extension forest in Breathitt and Knott Counties owned 
by the University of Kentucky (UK) and managed by the Department of 
Forestry in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. 
Management guidelines approved by the University of Kentucky's Board of 
Trustees in 2004 provide general land use allocations, sustainable 
allowances for active research and demonstration projects involving 
overstory manipulation, allocations of net revenues from research and 
demonstration activities, and management and oversight responsibilities 
(Stringer 2015, pers. comm.). Activities within Robinson Forest may 
require special management considerations or protection to address 
minor siltation associated with timber management research, stormwater 
runoff from unpaved roads, and limited off-road vehicle use. These 
threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other 
natural phenomena.
    At least portions of 32 proposed critical habitat units are located 
on private property (16 are located entirely on private property) and 
are not presently under the protection provided by the management plan 
or candidate conservation agreement for the species. Activities in or 
adjacent to these areas of proposed critical habitat may affect one or 
more of the physical or biological features essential to the Kentucky 
arrow darter. For example, features in this proposed critical habitat 
designation may require special management due to threats associated 
with resource extraction (coal surface mining, logging, natural gas and 
oil exploration), agricultural runoff (livestock, row crops), lack of 
adequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of State and 
county roads, land development, off-road vehicle use, and other 
nonpoint-source pollution. These threats are in addition to adverse 
effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena. Other 
activities that may affect physical and biological features in the 
proposed critical habitat units include those listed in the Effects of 
Critical Habitat Designation section, below.
    Management activities that could ameliorate these threats include, 
but are not limited to, the use of best management practices (BMPs) 
designed to reduce sedimentation, erosion, and stream bank destruction; 
development of alternatives that avoid and minimize stream bed 
disturbances; an increase of stormwater management and reduction of 
stormwater flows into stream systems; preservation of headwater springs 
and streams; regulation of off-road vehicle use; and reduction of other 
watershed and floodplain disturbances that release sediments, 
pollutants, or nutrients into the water.
    In summary, we find that the areas we are proposing as critical 
habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter that are occupied at the time of 
listing contain the physical or biological features for the species, 
and that these features may require special management considerations 
or protection. Special management consideration or protection may be 
required to eliminate, or to reduce to negligible levels, the threats 
affecting the physical or biological features of each unit. Additional 
discussion of threats facing individual units is provided in the 
individual unit descriptions below.

[[Page 61036]]

Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat
    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best 
scientific data available to designate critical habitat. In accordance 
with the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(b) we 
review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of 
the species and identify occupied areas at the time of listing that 
contain the features essential to the conservation of the species. If 
after identifying occupied areas, a determination is made that those 
areas are inadequate to ensure conservation of the species, in 
accordance with the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 
424.12(e), we then consider whether designating additional areas--
outside those occupied at the time of listing--are essential for the 
conservation of the species. We are not currently proposing to 
designate any areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species because we believe that occupied areas (a total of 47 streams) 
are adequate to ensure the conservation of the species. The following 
discussion describes how we identified and delineated those occupied 
areas.
    We began our analysis by considering the historical and current 
ranges of the Kentucky arrow darter. We used various sources including 
published literature, museum collection databases, surveys, reports, 
and collection records obtained from the KDFWR, Kentucky State Nature 
Preserves Commission, Kentucky Division of Water, and our own files 
(see ``Historical Range and Distribution'' and ``Current Range and 
Distribution'' sections of our proposed listing rule published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register). We then identified the specific 
areas that are occupied by the species and that contain one or more of 
the physical or biological features essential to the species' 
conservation. We defined occupied habitat as those stream reaches known 
to be currently occupied by the species. To identify the currently 
occupied stream reaches, we used post-2006 survey data that provided 
information on distribution and habitat condition (Thomas 2008, entire; 
Service 2012, entire; Service unpublished data). Generally, if the 
species was collected or observed in a particular stream during our 
recent rangewide surveys (2007-2014), the stream reach was considered 
to be occupied. A few transient individuals were observed in streams 
with unsuitable habitat conditions (e.g., elevated conductivity), but 
these streams were not considered to be occupied due to the poor 
habitat conditions and the high likelihood that these individuals had 
simply migrated from a nearby source stream. To identify the unoccupied 
stream reaches, we evaluated historical data (late 1880s-2006) and the 
results of our recent surveys (2007-2014) (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 
2012, entire; Service unpublished data). If the species was known to 
occur in a stream prior to 2007, but was not observed during our recent 
rangewide survey, the stream reach was considered to be unoccupied.
    Based on our review, we made a determination to not propose to 
designate as critical habitat any unoccupied stream reaches. We 
concluded that the proposed units occupied by the species at the time 
of listing are representative of the species' historical range and 
include both the core population areas of Kentucky arrow darters, as 
well as remaining peripheral population areas. We determined that there 
was sufficient area for the conservation of the species within the 
occupied areas.
    Following the identification of occupied stream reaches, the next 
step was to delineate the probable upstream and downstream extent of 
the species' distribution. We used U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 
1:100,000 digital stream maps to delineate these boundaries of proposed 
critical habitat units according to the criteria explained below. We 
set the upstream and downstream limits of each critical habitat unit by 
identifying landmarks (bridges, confluences, and road crossings), and 
in some instances latitude and longitude coordinates and secton lines, 
above and below the upper and lowermost reported locations of the 
Kentucky arrow darter in each stream reach to ensure incorporation of 
all potential sites of occurrence. We considered stream order and 
watershed size to select the upstream terminus. The species can occur 
in small, first-order reaches (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, 
entire), but recent surveys have also demonstrated that the species is 
typically absent in these reaches once the watershed size (the upstream 
basin or catchment) falls below 1.3 square kilometers (km\2\) (0.5 
square miles (mi\2\)). Consequently, we searched for this point within 
the watershed and selected the nearest tributary confluence as the 
upstream terminus. When a tributary was not available, a road-crossing 
(bridge or ford) or dam was used to mark the boundary. For the 
downstream boundary of a unit, we typically selected a stream 
confluence of a named tributary below the downstream-most occurrence 
record and within a third-order or smaller stream reach. In the unit 
descriptions, distances between landmarks used to identify the upstream 
or downstream extent of a stream segment are given in stream kilometers 
and equivalent miles, as measured tracing the course of the stream, not 
straight-line distance. The proposed critical habitat areas were then 
mapped using ArcGIS software to produce the critical habitat unit maps.
    Because fishes are naturally restricted by certain physical 
conditions within a stream reach (i.e., flow, substrate, cover), they 
may be unevenly distributed within these habitat units. Uncertainty on 
some downstream distributional limits for some populations (e.g., 
Frozen Creek) may have resulted in small areas of occupied habitat not 
being included in, or areas of unoccupied habitat included in, the 
designation. We recognize that both historical and recent collection 
records upon which we relied are incomplete, and that there may be 
stream segments or small tributaries not included in this proposed 
designation that harbor small, limited populations of the species 
considered in this proposed designation, or that others may become 
suitable in the future. The omission of such areas does not diminish 
their potential individual or cumulative importance to the conservation 
of the Kentucky arrow darter. The habitat areas contained within the 
proposed units described below constitute our best evaluation of areas 
needed for the conservation of this species at this time.
    The areas proposed for critical habitat below include only stream 
channels within the ordinary high-water line and do not contain any 
developed areas or structures. When determining proposed critical 
habitat boundaries, we made every effort to avoid including developed 
areas such as lands covered by buildings, pavement, and other 
structures because such areas usually lack physical and biological 
features essential to the conservation of the species. The scale of the 
maps we prepared under the parameters for publication within the Code 
of Federal Regulations may not reflect the exclusion of such developed 
areas. Any such areas inadvertently left inside critical habitat 
boundaries shown on the maps of this proposed rule have been excluded 
by text in the proposed rule and are not proposed for designation as 
critical habitat. Therefore, if the critical habitat is finalized as 
proposed, a Federal action involving these areas would not trigger 
section 7 consultation with respect to critical habitat and the 
requirement of no adverse modification unless the specific action would 
affect the physical or biological features in the

[[Page 61037]]

adjacent critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not 
imply that lands outside of critical habitat do not play an important 
role in the conservation of the species.
    The proposed critical habitat designation is defined by the map or 
maps, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, presented at the 
end of this document in the Proposed Regulation Promulgation section. 
We include more detailed information on the boundaries of the proposed 
critical habitat designation in the individual unit descriptions below. 
We will make the coordinates, plot points, or both on which each map is 
based available to the public on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket 
No. FWS-R4-ES-2015-0133, on our Internet site at http://www.fws.gov/frankfort/, and at the field office responsible for the designation 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above).

Proposed Critical Habitat Designation

    We are proposing to designate approximately 395 skm (246 smi) in 38 
units as critical habitat in Kentucky for the Kentucky arrow darter. 
These stream reaches comprise the entire currently known range of the 
species (and all extant populations). All proposed units are considered 
to be occupied at the time of listing and contain the physical or 
biological features in the appropriate quantity and spatial arrangement 
essential to the conservation of this species and support multiple 
life-history processes for the Kentucky arrow darter. The 38 areas we 
propose as critical habitat are listed in Table 1 below.
    Critical habitat units are either in private, Federal (DBNF), or 
State (UK) ownership. In Kentucky, adjacent landowners also own the 
land under streams (e.g., the stream channel or bottom), but the water 
is under State jurisdiction. Portions of the public-to-private boundary 
for Units 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 32, and 36 were located along the 
mid-line of the stream channel; lengths for these segments were divided 
equally between public and private ownership. Ownership and lengths of 
proposed Kentucky arrow darter critical habitat units are provided in 
Table 1.

                           Table 1--Location, Ownership, and Lengths for Proposed Kentucky Arrow Darter Critical Habitat Units
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                      Ownership--skm (smi)
             Unit                         Stream                       County           ------------------------------------------------   Total length
                                                                                             Private         Federal          State         skm (smi)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................  Buckhorn Creek and Prince    Knott......................       1.1 (0.7)               0               0        1.1 (0.7)
                                Fork.
2............................  Eli Fork...................  Knott......................       1.0 (0.6)               0               0        1.0 (0.6)
3............................  Coles Fork and Snag Ridge    Breathitt, Knott...........               0               0      11.0 (6.8)       11.0 (6.8)
                                Fork.
4............................  Clemons Fork...............  Breathitt..................       0.1 (0.1)               0       6.9 (4.3)        7.0 (4.4)
5............................  Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek  Knott......................     19.8 (12.4)               0               0      19.8 (12.4)
                                and Tributaries.
6............................  Middle Fork Quicksand Creek  Knott......................     22.5 (13.9)               0               0      22.5 (13.9)
                                and Tributaries.
7............................  Spring Fork Quicksand Creek  Breathitt..................       2.2 (1.4)               0               0        2.2 (1.4)
8............................  Hunting Creek and            Breathitt..................      15.6 (9.7)               0               0       15.6 (9.7)
                                Tributaries.
9............................  Frozen Creek and             Breathitt..................     26.4 (16.4)               0               0      26.4 (16.4)
                                Tributaries.
10...........................  Holly Creek and Tributaries  Wolfe......................     18.3 (11.5)               0               0      18.3 (11.5)
11...........................  Little Fork................  Lee, Wolfe.................       3.8 (2.3)               0               0        3.8 (2.3)
12...........................  Walker Creek and             Lee, Wolfe.................     25.0 (15.5)               0               0      25.0 (15.5)
                                Tributaries.
13...........................  Hell Creek and Tributaries.  Lee........................      12.0 (7.4)               0               0       12.0 (7.4)
14...........................  Big Laurel Creek...........  Harlan.....................       9.1 (5.7)               0               0        9.1 (5.7)
15...........................  Laurel Creek...............  Leslie.....................       0.7 (0.5)       3.4 (2.1)               0        4.1 (2.6)
16...........................  Hell For Certain Creek and   Leslie.....................      11.4 (7.0)       4.4 (2.8)               0       15.8 (9.8)
                                Tributaries.
17...........................  Squabble Creek.............  Perry......................      12.0 (7.5)               0               0       12.0 (7.5)
18...........................  Blue Hole Creek and Left     Clay.......................               0       5.7 (3.5)               0        5.7 (3.5)
                                Fork Blue Hole Creek.
19...........................  Upper Bear Creek and         Clay.......................       0.2 (0.1)       6.6 (4.2)               0        6.8 (4.3)
                                Tributaries.
20...........................  Katies Creek...............  Clay.......................       1.7 (1.0)       4.0 (2.5)               0        5.7 (3.5)
21...........................  Spring Creek and Little      Clay.......................       3.6 (2.2)       5.6 (3.5)               0        9.2 (5.7)
                                Spring Creek.
22...........................  Bowen Creek and Tributaries  Leslie.....................       2.0 (1.2)      11.6 (7.3)               0       13.6 (8.5)
23...........................  Elisha Creek and             Leslie.....................       3.0 (1.9)       6.6 (4.0)               0        9.6 (5.9)
                                Tributaries.
24...........................  Gilberts Big Creek.........  Clay, Leslie...............       2.0 (1.2)       5.2 (3.3)               0        7.2 (4.5)
25...........................  Sugar Creek................  Clay, Leslie...............       1.1 (0.7)       6.1 (3.8)               0        7.2 (4.5)
26...........................  Big Double Creek and         Clay.......................               0      10.3 (6.4)               0       10.3 (6.4)
                                Tributaries.
27...........................  Little Double Creek........  Clay.......................               0       3.4 (2.1)               0        3.4 (2.1)
28...........................  Jacks Creek................  Clay.......................       5.4 (3.4)       0.5 (0.3)               0        5.9 (3.7)
29...........................  Long Fork..................  Clay.......................               0       2.2 (1.4)               0        2.2 (1.4)
30...........................  Horse Creek................  Clay.......................       3.0 (1.9)       2.0 (1.2)               0        5.0 (3.1)
31...........................  Bullskin Creek.............  Clay, Leslie...............     21.3 (13.3)       0.4 (0.2)               0      21.7 (13.5)
32...........................  Buffalo Creek and            Owsley.....................     23.2 (14.5)      14.9 (9.3)               0      38.1 (23.8)
                                Tributaries.
33...........................  Lower Buffalo Creek........  Lee, Owsley................       7.3 (4.6)               0               0        7.3 (4.6)
34...........................  Silver Creek...............  Lee........................       6.2 (3.9)               0               0        6.2 (3.9)
35...........................  Travis Creek...............  Jackson....................       4.1 (2.5)               0               0        4.1 (2.5)
36...........................  Wild Dog Creek.............  Jackson, Owsley............       4.3 (2.7)       3.8 (2.4)               0        8.1 (5.1)
37...........................  Granny Dismal Creek........  Lee, Owsley................       4.4 (2.7)       2.5 (1.6)               0        6.9 (4.3)
38...........................  Rockbridge Fork............  Wolfe......................               0       4.5 (2.8)               0        4.5 (2.8)
                                                                                        ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Total....................  ...........................  ...........................   273.8 (170.3)    103.7 (64.7)     17.9 (11.1)    395.4 (246.1)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 61038]]

    We present brief descriptions of all units below. We consider each 
proposed unit to contain all the physical or biological features and 
primary constituent elements (PCEs) identified above that are essential 
to the conservation of the species. In general, stream channels within 
these units are stable, with ample pool, glide, riffle, and run 
habitats (PCE 1) that maintain surface flows year round (PCE 3) and 
contain gravel, cobble, and boulder substrates with low levels of 
siltation (PCE 2). Such characteristics are necessary for reproductive, 
foraging, and sheltering requirements of Kentucky arrow darters. We 
consider water quality in each of these units to be characterized by 
moderate temperatures, relatively high dissolved oxygen concentrations, 
moderate pH, and low levels of pollutants (PCE 4). These conditions 
support abundant populations of aquatic macro inverte brates that serve 
as prey items for Kentucky arrow darters (PCE 5).
    The proposed critical habitat units include the stream channels of 
the creek within the ordinary high water line. As defined at 33 CFR 
329.11, the ordinary high water mark on nontidal rivers is the line on 
the shore established by the fluctuations of water and indicated by 
physical characteristics, such as a clear, natural line impressed on 
the bank; shelving; changes in the character of soil; destruction of 
terrestrial vegetation; the presence of litter and debris; or other 
appropriate means that consider the characteristics of the surrounding 
areas. For each stream reach proposed as a critical habitat unit, the 
upstream and downstream boundaries are described generally below. More 
precise definitions are provided in the Proposed Regulation 
Promulgation at the end of this proposed rule.

Unit 1: Buckhorn Creek and Prince Fork, Knott County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 1 is located off Buckhorn Road in the headwaters of 
the Buckhorn Creek drainage and between Kentucky Highway 1098 (KY 1098) 
and KY 1087. It includes 0.7 skm (0.4 smi) of Prince Fork from its 
confluence with Mart Branch downstream to its confluence with Buckhorn 
Creek and 0.4 skm (0.3 smi) of Buckhorn Creek from its confluence with 
Prince Fork downstream to its confluence with Emory Branch. Live 
Kentucky arrow darters have been collected from proposed Unit 1 in 
Prince Fork and just upstream of the confluence of Buckhorn Creek and 
Emory Branch (ATS 2011, p. 6; Service 2012, pp. 1-4). This unit is 
located almost entirely on private land, except for any small amount 
that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and road 
easements. The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 1 is dominated by 
forest and remains relatively undisturbed; however, downstream reaches 
of Buckhorn Creek have been degraded by siltation and nonpoint-source 
pollutants associated with surface coal mining, oil and gas 
exploration, logging, and runoff from unpaved roads (Service 2012, pp. 
1-4). This unit helps to maintain the geographical range of the species 
(adds population redundancy) and provides opportunity for population 
growth.
    Within proposed Unit 1, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
potential adverse effects (e.g., water pollution, siltation) associated 
with surface coal mining, logging (timber harvests on private land), 
natural gas and oil exploration, construction and maintenance of county 
roads (Buckhorn Road), the lack of adequate riparian buffers (near the 
confluence with Emory Branch), and off-road vehicle use. These threats 
are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 2: Eli Fork, Knott County, Kentucky

    This proposed unit is located in the headwaters of the Buckhorn 
Creek drainage between KY 1098 and KY 1087. It includes 1.0 skm (0.6 
smi) of Eli Fork from its confluence with Stonecoal Branch downstream 
to its confluence with Boughcamp Branch (of Buckhorn Creek). Live 
Kentucky arrow darters have been collected from proposed Unit 2 near 
the confluence of Eli Fork and Boughcamp Branch (ATS 2011, p. 6). This 
unit is located almost entirely on private land, except for any small 
amount that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and road 
easements. The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 2 is dominated by 
forest and remains relatively undisturbed; however, its receiving 
stream, Boughcamp Branch, and adjacent watersheds have been degraded by 
siltation and nonpoint-source pollutants associated with surface coal 
mining and logging (Service 2012, pp. 1-4). This unit helps to maintain 
the geographical range of the species (adds population redundancy) and 
provides opportunity for population growth.
    Within proposed Unit 2, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
potential adverse effects (e.g., water pollution, siltation) associated 
with surface coal mining, logging, natural gas and oil exploration, 
off-road vehicle use, and construction and maintenance of county roads. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 3: Coles Fork and Snag Ridge Fork, Breathitt and Knott Counties, 
Kentucky

    This proposed unit is located entirely within Robinson Forest, a 
4,047-hectare (10,000-acre) research, education, and extension forest 
in Breathitt and Knott Counties owned by UK and managed by the 
Department of Forestry in the College of Agriculture, Food, and 
Environment. Unit 3 includes 2.1 skm (1.3 smi) of Snag Ridge Fork from 
its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Coles Fork and 8.9 skm 
(5.5 smi) of Coles Fork from its confluence with Saddle Branch 
downstream to its confluence with Buckhorn Creek. Live Kentucky arrow 
darters have been observed throughout proposed Unit 3 (Thomas 2008, p. 
5; Service 2012, pp. 1-4), and Coles Fork continues to be one of the 
species' best remaining habitats. This unit is located entirely on 
lands owned by UK. The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 3 is intact 
and densely forested, water quality conditions are excellent (very 
close to baseline levels), and instream habitats are ideal for the 
species. This unit represents a stronghold for the species (core 
population) and likely contributes to range expansion (source 
population).
    Within proposed Unit 3, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
siltation associated with timber management (on Robinson Forest), 
stormwater runoff from unpaved roads, and limited off-road vehicle use. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 4: Clemons Fork, Breathitt County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 4 is located along Clemons Fork Road in southeastern 
Breathitt County. This unit includes 7.0 skm (4.4 smi) of Clemons Fork 
from its confluence with Maple Hollow downstream to its confluence with 
Buckhorn Creek. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been observed 
throughout proposed Unit 4 (Lotrich 1973, p. 380; Thomas 2008, p. 5; 
Service 2012, pp. 1-4). A portion of this unit near the mouth of 
Clemons Fork is privately owned (0.1 skm (0.1 smi)), but the majority 
is located on lands owned by UK (see description for Unit 3). The 
watershed surrounding proposed Unit 4 is intact and densely forested, 
water quality conditions are excellent (very close to baseline levels), 
and instream habitats

[[Page 61039]]

are ideal for the species. Clemons Fork continues to be one of the 
species' best remaining habitats. This unit represents a stronghold for 
the species (core population) and likely contributes to range expansion 
(source population).
    Within proposed Unit 4, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
siltation associated with timber management (on Robinson Forest), 
stormwater runoff from unpaved roads, and limited off-road vehicle use. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 5: Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek and Tributaries, Knott County, 
Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 5 generally runs parallel to KY 1098 and Laurel Fork 
Road in northern Knott County. This unit includes 1.2 skm (0.8 smi) of 
Fitch Branch from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with 
Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek, 2.7 skm (1.7 smi) of Newman Branch from 
its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Laurel Fork Quicksand 
Creek, 2.1 skm (1.3 smi) of Combs Branch from its headwaters downstream 
to its confluence with Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek, and 13.8 skm (8.6 
smi) of Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek from KY 80 downstream to its 
confluence with Patten Fork. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been 
captured within proposed Unit 5 just upstream of the Laurel Fork and 
Patten Fork confluence and farther upstream at the first Laurel Fork 
Road crossing (Thomas 2008, p. 5; Service 2012, pp. 1-4). This unit is 
located almost entirely on private land, except for any small amount 
that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and road 
easements. Hillsides and ridgetops above proposed Unit 5 are forested, 
but the valley is more developed with scattered residences along Laurel 
Fork Road. This unit helps to maintain the geographical range of the 
species (adds population redundancy) and likely serves as a source 
population within the Quicksand Creek watershed.
    Within proposed Unit 5, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with 
logging, inadequate sewage treatment, surface coal mining, natural gas 
and oil exploration activities, inadequate riparian buffers, 
construction and maintenance of county roads, and off-road vehicle use. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 6: Middle Fork Quicksand Creek and Tributaries, Knott County, 
Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 6 is located along Middle Fork of Quicksand Creek 
Road in northeastern Knott County. This unit includes 0.8 skm (0.5 smi) 
of Big Firecoal Branch from its headwaters downstream to its confluence 
with Middle Fork Quicksand Creek, 2.1 skm (1.3 smi) of Bradley Branch 
from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Middle Fork 
Quicksand Creek, 2.0 skm (1.2 smi) of Lynn Log Branch from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Middle Fork Quicksand 
Creek, and 17.6 skm (10.9 smi) of Middle Fork Quicksand Creek from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Big Branch. Live Kentucky 
arrow darters have been captured within proposed Unit 6 near the 
confluence of Middle Fork and Jack Branch and the confluence of Middle 
Fork and Upper Bear Pen Branch (Thomas 2008, p. 5; Service 2012, pp. 1-
4). This unit is located almost entirely on private land, except for 
any small amount that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings 
and road easements. The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 6 is 
dominated by forest and continues to be relatively undisturbed. An 
unpaved, road traverses the length of the unit, but the rough condition 
of the road limits its use to off-road vehicles. This unit helps to 
maintain the geographical range of the species (adds population 
redundancy) and likely serves as a source population within the 
Quicksand Creek watershed.
    Within proposed Unit 6, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with 
natural gas and oil exploration activities, logging, surface coal 
mining, inadequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of 
county roads, and off-road vehicle use. These threats are in addition 
to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 7: Spring Fork Quicksand Creek, Breathitt County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 7 is located of KY 2465 in southeastern Breathitt 
County and includes 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Spring Fork Quicksand Creek 
from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with an unnamed 
tributary. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within 
proposed Unit 7 (Service unpublished data). This unit is located almost 
entirely on private land, except for any small amount that is publicly 
owned in the form of bridge crossings and road easements. Most of the 
watershed surrounding proposed Unit 7 is forested, but mine reclamation 
activities have created open, pasture-like habitats along ridgetops and 
slopes to the north. This unit helps to maintain the geographical range 
of the species within the Quicksand Creek watershed (adds population 
redundancy) and provides opportunity for population growth.
    Within proposed Unit 7, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with 
surface coal mining, natural gas and oil exploration activities, 
logging, and off-road vehicle use. These threats are in addition to 
random effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 8: Hunting Creek and Tributaries, Breathitt County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 8 is located along KY 1094 in eastern Breathitt 
County and includes 0.9 skm (0.5 smi) of Wolf Pen Branch from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Hunting Creek, 2.3 skm 
(1.4 smi) of Fletcher Fork from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Hunting Creek, 1.6 skm (1.0 smi) of Negro Fork from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Hunting Creek, 3.1 skm 
(1.9 smi) of Licking Fork from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Hunting Creek, and 7.7 skm (4.8 smi) of Hunting Creek 
from its confluence with Wells Fork downstream to its confluence with 
Quicksand Creek. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within 
proposed Unit 8 near the confluence with Winnie Branch (Service 
unpublished data). This unit is located almost entirely on private 
land, except for any small amount that is publicly owned in the form of 
bridge crossings and road easements. The narrow valley surrounding 
proposed Unit 8 contains a few scattered residences and fields along 
Hunting Creek Road, but the majority of the watershed is relatively 
intact and dominated by forest. This unit helps to maintain the 
geographical range of the species within the Quicksand Creek watershed 
(adds population redundancy) and provides opportunity for population 
growth.
    Within proposed Unit 8, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with 
natural gas and oil exploration activities, logging, surface

[[Page 61040]]

coal mining, inadequate sewage treatment, inadequate riparian buffers, 
construction and maintenance of county roads, and off-road vehicle use. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 9: Frozen Creek and Tributaries, Breathitt County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 9 is located along KY 378 in northern Breathitt 
County. This unit includes 4.7 skm (2.9 smi) of Clear Fork from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Frozen Creek, 3.6 skm (2.3 
smi) of Negro Branch from its headwaters downstream to its confluence 
with Frozen Creek, 4.2 skm (2.6 smi) of Davis Creek from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with Frozen Creek, and 13.9 skm (8.6 smi) 
of Frozen Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with 
Morgue Fork. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within 
proposed Unit 9 upstream of Rock Lick in the headwaters of Frozen Creek 
(Thomas 2008, p. 5; Service unpublished data). This unit is located 
almost entirely on private land, except for any small amount that is 
publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and road easements. The 
individual valleys surrounding proposed Unit 9 are relatively narrow 
(approximately 100-160 meters (m) (328-525 feet (ft)) at their widest) 
and comprised of small farms and scattered residences. The ridgetops 
and hillsides are relatively undisturbed and dominated by forest. This 
unit helps to maintain the geographical range of the species (adds 
population redundancy), contributes to genetic exchange between several 
streams in the Frozen Creek watershed, and likely serves as an 
important source population in the northern limits of the species' 
range.
    Within proposed Unit 9, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with 
inadequate sewage treatment, canopy loss, agricultural runoff, 
inadequate riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of county 
roads, logging, natural gas and oil exploration activities, surface 
coal mining (legacy effects), and off-road vehicle use. These threats 
are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 10: Holly Creek and Tributaries, Wolfe County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 10 is located along KY 1261 in southern Wolfe County 
and includes 2.8 skm (1.8 smi) of Spring Branch from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with Holly Creek, 2.0 skm (1.3 smi) of 
Pence Branch from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with 
Holly Creek, 4.0 skm (2.5 smi) of Cave Branch from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with Holly Creek, and 9.5 skm (5.9 smi) of 
Holly Creek from KY 1261 (first bridge crossing north of KY 15) 
downstream to its confluence with the North Fork Kentucky River. Live 
Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within proposed Unit 10 near 
the confluence of Holly Creek and Spring Branch (Thomas 2008, p. 5). 
This unit is located almost entirely on private land, except for any 
small amount that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and 
road easements. This unit helps to maintain the geographical range of 
the species and provides opportunity for population growth.
    The valley bottom surrounding proposed Unit 10 is consistently 
wider (approximately 320 m (1050 ft) at its widest) than other occupied 
stream valleys (e.g., Frozen Creek), and agricultural land use is more 
extensive. Multiple small farms (e.g., pasture, row crops, hayfields) 
and residences are scattered along KY 1261, while the ridgetops and 
hillsides are dominated by forest. We are not designating critical 
habitat in upstream reaches of the drainage (e.g., Kelse Holland Fork, 
Mandy Holland Fork, Terrell Fork) because these streams do not contain 
the PCEs essential to the species' conservation. Habitat conditions in 
these upstream reaches are poor, as characterized by straightened, 
incised channels; a lack of canopy cover; and unstable substrates.
    Within proposed Unit 10, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with 
agricultural runoff, canopy loss, inadequate riparian buffers, 
construction and maintenance of county roads, inadequate sewage 
treatment, logging, surface coal mining (legacy effects), and off-road 
vehicle use. These threats are in addition to random effects of 
drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 11: Little Fork, Lee and Wolfe County, Kentucky

    This proposed unit is located between KY 2016 and Booth Ridge Road 
in southern Wolfe County and includes 3.8 skm (2.3 smi) of Little Fork 
from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Lower Devil 
Creek. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within proposed 
Unit 11 just upstream of the confluence of Little Fork and Lower Devil 
Creek (Thomas 2008, p. 5; Service 2012, pp. 1-4). This unit is located 
almost entirely on private land, except for any small amount that is 
publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and road easements. This 
unit helps to maintain the geographical range of the species 
(population redundancy) and provides opportunity for population growth.
    The valley bottom surrounding this proposed unit is densely 
forested, but a network of unpaved roads and oil and gas well sites are 
located along the ridgetops to the east and west of the stream. Within 
proposed Unit 11, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address adverse 
effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with oil and gas 
exploration activities, off-road vehicle use, road runoff, canopy loss, 
logging, and surface coal mining (legacy effects). These threats are in 
addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 12: Walker Creek and Tributaries, Lee and Wolfe Counties, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 12 is located between KY 11 and Shumaker Road to the 
west and KY 2016 to the east in northern Lee County and southwestern 
Wolfe County. This unit includes 3.9 skm (2.4 smi) of an unnamed 
tributary of Walker Creek from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Walker Creek, 2.4 skm (1.5 smi) of Cowan Fork from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Hell for Certain Creek, 
2.0 skm (1.2 smi) of Hell for Certain Creek from the outflow of an 
unnamed reservoir downstream to its confluence with Walker Creek, 0.8 
skm (0.5 smi) of Boonesboro Fork from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Walker Creek, 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Peddler Creek from 
its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Walker Creek, 1.1 skm 
(0.7 smi) of Huff Cave Branch from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Walker Creek, and 12.6 skm (7.8 smi) of Walker Creek 
from its headwaters (reservoir) downstream to its confluence with North 
Fork Kentucky River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured at 
several locations within proposed Unit 12 (Thomas 2008, p. 5; Service 
2012, pp. 1-4), including the Old Fincastle Road low-water crossing, a 
site upstream near the confluence with Boonesboro Fork, and in the 
headwaters just upstream of the confluence of Walker Creek with Hell 
For Certain Creek. This unit is located almost

[[Page 61041]]

entirely on private land, except for any small amount that is publicly 
owned in the form of bridge crossings and road easements.
    Land use surrounding this proposed unit is similar to that of 
Little Fork (proposed Unit 11) and Hell Creek (proposed Unit 13). The 
valley bottom is densely forested, but numerous unpaved roads, oil and 
gas well sites, and scattered residences occur along the ridgetops to 
the east and west of the stream. A narrow, unmaintained dirt road 
(Walker Creek Road) runs parallel to and east of this unit for its 
entire length; off-road vehicle use is common. This unit helps to 
maintain the geographical range of the species (adds population 
redundancy), contributes to genetic exchange between several streams in 
the Walker Creek watershed, and likely serves as an important source 
population in the northern limits of the species' range.
    Within proposed Unit 12, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with oil 
and gas exploration activities, off-road vehicle use, road runoff, 
canopy loss, and legacy effects of previous oil and gas well 
development. These threats are in addition to random effects of 
drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 13: Hell Creek and Tributaries, Lee County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 13 is located between KY 11 and Shumaker Road in 
northern Lee County. This unit includes 2.3 skm (1.4 smi) of Miller 
Fork from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Hell Creek, 
0.7 skm (0.4 smi) of Bowman Fork from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Hell Creek, 1.9 skm (1.2 smi) of an unnamed tributary 
of Hell Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with 
Hell Creek, and 7.1 skm (4.4 smi) of Hell Creek from the outflow of an 
unnamed reservoir downstream to its confluence with North Fork Kentucky 
River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within proposed 
Unit 13 from the Hell Creek mainstem near the Hell Creek Road low-water 
crossing and from an unnamed tributary of Hell Creek near the Hell 
Creek Road low-water crossing (Thomas 2008, p. 5; Service 2012, pp. 1-
4). This unit is located almost entirely on private land, except for 
any small amount that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings 
and road easements.
    Land use surrounding this proposed unit is similar to that of 
Little Fork (proposed Unit 11) and Walker Creek (proposed Unit 12). The 
valley bottom surrounding this proposed unit is forested, but numerous 
unpaved roads, oil and gas well sites, and scattered residences occur 
along the ridgetops to the east and west of the stream. A narrow, 
unmaintained dirt road runs parallel to and east of proposed Unit 13 
upstream of the Hell Creek Road crossing; off-road vehicle use is 
common. This unit helps to maintain the geographical range of the 
species (population redundancy) and provides opportunity for population 
growth.
    Within proposed Unit 13, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with oil 
and gas exploration activities, off-road vehicle use, road runoff, 
canopy loss, and legacy effects of previous oil and gas well 
development. These threats are in addition to random effects of 
drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 14: Big Laurel Creek, Harlan County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 14 is located off KY 221 and Big Laurel Creek Road in 
northern Harlan County and includes 9.1 skm (5.7 smi) of Big Laurel 
Creek from its confluence with Combs Fork downstream to its confluence 
with Greasy Creek. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured from 
this unit near its confluence with White Oak Branch (Thomas 2008, p. 5; 
Service 2012, pp. 1-4). This unit is located almost entirely on private 
land, except for any small amount that is publicly owned in the form of 
bridge crossings and road easements. This unit adds population 
redundancy at the southeastern edge of the species' range.
    The valley bottom and hillsides surrounding proposed Unit 14 are 
densely forested, but extensive surface coal mining within the 
watershed has created clearings along the ridgetops and has resulted in 
five valley (hollow) fills that are located within tributaries of Big 
Laurel Creek. Within proposed Unit 14, the Kentucky arrow darter and 
its habitat may require special management considerations or protection 
to address adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) 
associated with historical surface coal mining, off-road vehicle use, 
road runoff, logging, and canopy loss. These threats are in addition to 
random effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 15: Laurel Creek, Leslie County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 15 is located south of US 421/KY 80 in western Leslie 
County and includes 4.1 skm (2.6 smi) of Laurel Creek from its 
confluence with Sandlick Branch downstream to its confluence with Left 
Fork Rockhouse Creek. A single live Kentucky arrow darter has been 
captured from this unit, approximately 0.48 skm (0.3 smi) from the 
confluence with Left Fork Rockhouse Creek (Thomas 2013, pers. comm.). A 
small portion of this proposed unit is privately owned (0.7 skm (0.5 
smi)), but the remainder of the unit is in Federal ownership 
(administered by DNBF). Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14). This unit adds population redundancy and provides opportunity for 
population growth.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 15 is entirely forested, 
with no private residences or other structures. Within proposed Unit 
15, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may require special 
management considerations or protection to address adverse effects 
(e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with illegal off-road 
vehicle use, road runoff, and timber management. These threats are in 
addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 16: Hell For Certain Creek and Tributaries, Leslie County, 
Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 16 is located off Hell For Certain Road between KY 
1482 and KY 257 in northern Leslie County. This unit includes 1.3 skm 
(0.8 smi) of Cucumber Branch from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Hell For Certain Creek, 3.1 skm (1.9 smi) of Big Fork 
from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Hell For Certain 
Creek, and 11.4 skm (7.1 smi) of Hell For Certain Creek from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Middle Fork Kentucky 
River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured from proposed 
Unit 16 at multiple locations upstream of its confluence with Big Fork 
(Thomas 2008, p. 4; Service unpublished data). A portion of this 
proposed unit is in Federal ownership (administered by DBNF) (4.4 skm 
(2.8 smi)), but the majority of the unit is in private ownership. For 
the portion of the unit in Federal ownership, land and resource 
management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by 
DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit represents a stronghold 
for the species

[[Page 61042]]

within the Middle Fork Kentucky River sub-basin and likely acts a 
source population. This unit is also important for maintaining the 
distribution and genetic diversity of the species within the Middle 
Fork sub-basin.
    The valley bottom surrounding proposed Unit 16 is narrow 
(approximately 100 m (328 ft) at its widest) and comprised of a mixture 
of small farms (e.g., pasture, hayfields) and scattered residences 
along Hell For Certain Road. The ridgetops and hillsides are relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest. Within proposed Unit 16, the 
Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may require special management 
considerations or protection to address adverse effects (e.g., 
siltation, water pollution) associated with road runoff, inadequate 
sewage treatment, inadequate riparian buffers, construction and 
maintenance of county roads, agricultural runoff, illegal off-road 
vehicle use, logging, and timber management (on DBNF). These threats 
are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 17: Squabble Creek, Perry County, Kentucky

    This proposed unit is located south of KY 28, just downstream of 
Buckhorn Lake Dam and near the community of Buckhorn in northwestern 
Perry County. Proposed Unit 17 includes 12.0 skm (7.5 smi) of Squabble 
Creek from its confluence with Long Fork downstream to its confluence 
with Middle Fork Kentucky River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been 
captured from this unit near its confluence with Big Branch (Service 
unpublished data). This unit is located almost entirely on private 
land, except for any small amount that is publicly owned in the form of 
bridge crossings and road easements. This unit helps to maintain the 
geographical range of the species and provides opportunity for 
population growth.
    The valley surrounding proposed Unit 17 is narrow (approximately 
113 m (370 ft) at its widest) and comprised of a mixture of residences 
(many in clusters) and small farms (e.g., pasture, hayfields) scattered 
along KY 2022, which parallels Squabble Creek for much of its length. 
Ridgetops and hillsides in most of the Squabble Creek valley are 
relatively undisturbed and dominated by forest; however, surface coal 
mining has occurred along ridgetops (to the north and south of Squabble 
Creek) in the downstream half of the drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 17, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, inadequate sewage treatment, agricultural runoff, inadequate 
riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of county roads, illegal 
off-road vehicle use, logging, and historical surface coal mining. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 18: Blue Hole Creek and Left Fork Blue Hole Creek, Clay County, 
Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 18 is located along KY 1524 in southeastern Clay 
County. This unit includes 1.8 skm (1.1 smi) of Left Fork from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Blue Hole Creek and 3.9 
skm (2.4 smi) of Blue Hole Creek from its confluence with Dry Branch 
downstream to its confluence with the Red Bird River. Live Kentucky 
arrow darters have been captured from Unit 18 near the mouth of Cow 
Hollow (Thomas 2008, p. 4). This unit is entirely in Federal ownership 
(administered by DNBF). Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14). This unit comprises a portion of the species' core population 
within the Red Bird River watershed and contributes to connectivity of 
streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 18 is entirely forested, 
with no private residences or other structures. The only interruption 
in the canopy is the KY 1525 corridor, which traverses most of the 
valley. One additional road, Blue Hole School Road, is located at the 
headwaters of Blue Hole Creek, leading to a small cemetery site. Blue 
Hole Creek is 1 of 11 Red Bird River tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) 
that support Kentucky arrow populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 
2012, entire). Collectively, these streams represent the largest, most 
significant cluster of occupied streams and are characterized by intact 
riparian zones with negligible residential development, high gradients 
with abundant riffles, cool temperatures, low conductivities (less than 
100 [micro]S/cm), and stable channels with clean cobble and boulder 
substrates (Thomas 2008, p. 4; Service 2014, p. 6).
    Within proposed Unit 18, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, illegal off-road vehicle use, and timber management (on DBNF). 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 19: Upper Bear Creek and Tributaries, Clay County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 19 is located along KY 1524 and Upper Bear Creek Road 
in southeastern Clay County. This unit includes 1.5 skm (1.0 smi) of 
Left Fork Upper Bear Creek from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Upper Bear Creek, 0.8 skm (0.5 smi) of Right Fork Upper 
Bear Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Upper 
Bear Creek, and 4.5 skm (2.8 smi) of Upper Bear Creek from its 
confluence with Left Fork and Right Fork Upper Bear Creek downstream to 
its confluence with the Red Bird River. Live Kentucky arrow darters 
have been captured from proposed Unit 19 in two locations downstream of 
the Left and Right Forks (Thomas 2008, p. 4). A small portion of this 
unit is privately owned (0.2 skm (0.1 smi)), but the majority of the 
unit is in Federal ownership (administered by DNBF). Land and resource 
management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by 
DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit comprises a portion of the 
species' core population within the Red Bird River watershed and 
contributes to connectivity of streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 19 is primarily forested, 
but a few scattered residences and small farms are located along KY 
1524 in the upstream (western) half of the watershed. Upper Bear Creek 
is 1 of 11 Red Bird River tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that 
support Kentucky arrow populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, 
entire). See the description of proposed Unit 18 for more information 
regarding the characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 19, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitats 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, illegal off-road vehicle use, agricultural runoff, and timber 
management (on DBNF). These threats are in addition to random effects 
of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 20: Katies Creek, Clay County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 20 is located along Katies Creek Road in southeastern 
Clay County and includes 5.7 skm (3.5 smi) of Katies Creek from its 
confluence with Cave Branch downstream to its confluence with the Red 
Bird River.

[[Page 61043]]

Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured from this unit 
approximately 0.2 skm (0.12 smi) upstream of the mouth of Katies Creek 
(Thomas 2008, p. 4). A small portion of this unit is privately owned 
(1.7 skm (1 smi)), but the majority of the unit is in Federal ownership 
(administered by DNBF). Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14). This unit comprises a portion of the species' core population 
within the Red Bird River watershed and contributes to connectivity of 
streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 20 is entirely forested, 
with no private residences or other structures. The only interruption 
in the canopy is the Katies Creek Road corridor, which traverses the 
valley. Katies Creek is 1 of 11 Red Bird River tributaries (proposed 
Units 18-28) that support Kentucky arrow populations (Thomas 2008, 
entire; Service 2012, entire). See the description of proposed Unit 18 
for more information regarding the characterization of the streams 
within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 20, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, illegal off-road vehicle use, logging (on private land), and 
timber management (on DBNF). These threats are in addition to random 
effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 21: Spring Creek and Little Spring Creek, Clay County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 21 is located west of KY 66 in southeastern Clay 
County. This unit includes 1.0 skm (0.6 smi) of Little Spring Creek 
from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Spring Creek and 
8.2 skm (5.1 smi) of Spring Creek from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with the Red Bird River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have 
been captured within proposed Unit 21 approximately 0.2 skm (0.1 smi) 
upstream of the mouth of Spring Creek (Thomas 2008, p. 4). A portion of 
this unit is privately owned (3.6 skm (2.2 smi)), but the majority of 
the unit is in Federal ownership (administered by DNBF). Land and 
resource management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided 
by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit comprises a portion of 
the species' core population within the Red Bird River watershed and 
contributes to connectivity of streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 21 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest; however, a few scattered 
residences are located along a short segment (approximately 0.8 skm 
(0.5 smi)) of Lower Spring Creek Road near its junction with KY 66 and 
along Sand Hill Road and Spring Creek Road at the western (upstream) 
end of the drainage. The stream corridor between these two areas, an 
approximate 6.4-skm (4-smi) segment, is inaccessible except by off-road 
vehicle. About 10 oil wells are located along ridgetops and hillsides 
near the mouth of Spring Creek, and these sites are connected by a 
network of unpaved roads. Spring Creek is 1 of 11 Red Bird River 
tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that support Kentucky arrow 
populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, entire). See the 
description of proposed Unit 18 for more information regarding the 
characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 21, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, off-road vehicle use, inadequate sewage treatment, logging (on 
private land), timber management (on DBNF), and oil and gas exploration 
activities. These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, 
floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 22: Bowen Creek and Tributaries, Leslie County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 22 is located east of KY 66 and adjacent to Bowen 
Creek Road in western Leslie County. This unit includes 2.2 skm (1.4 
smi) of Laurel Fork from its headwaters downstream to its confluence 
with Bowen Creek, 1.8 skm (1.1 smi) of Amy Branch from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with Bowen Creek, and 9.6 skm (6.0 smi) of 
Bowen Creek from its headwaters downstream to the Red Bird River. Live 
Kentucky arrow darters have been captured from proposed Unit 22 near 
its confluence with Blevins Branch and Hurricane Branch (Service 
unpublished data). A portion of this unit is privately owned (2.0 skm 
(1.2 smi)), but the majority of the unit is in Federal ownership 
(administered by DNBF). Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14). This unit comprises a portion of the species' core population 
within the Red Bird River watershed and contributes to connectivity of 
streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding this unit is relatively undisturbed and 
dominated by forest. A few scattered residences are located along Bowen 
Creek Road near the mid-point of the valley, and others are located 
further upstream along KY 406. Bowen Creek is 1 of 11 Red Bird River 
tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that support Kentucky arrow 
populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, entire). See the 
description of proposed Unit 18 for more information regarding the 
characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within Unit 22, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may 
require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, illegal off-road vehicle use, inadequate sewage treatment, 
logging (on private land), and timber management (on DBNF). These 
threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other 
natural phenomena.

Unit 23: Elisha Creek and Tributaries, Leslie County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 23 is located east of KY 66 and adjacent to Elisha 
Creek Road in western Leslie County. This unit includes 4.4 skm (2.7 
smi) of Right Fork Elisha Creek from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Elisha Creek, 2.3 skm (1.4 smi) of Left Fork Elisha 
Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Elisha 
Creek, and 2.9 skm (1.8 smi) of Elisha Creek from its confluence with 
Right Fork Elisha Creek downstream to its confluence with the Red Bird 
River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured throughout 
proposed Unit 23 (Service unpublished data). A portion of this proposed 
unit is privately owned (3.0 skm (1.9 smi)), but the majority of the 
unit is in Federal ownership (administered by DNBF). Land and resource 
management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by 
DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit comprises a portion of the 
species' core population within the Red Bird River watershed and 
contributes to connectivity of streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 23 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest. A few scattered residences are 
located along Elisha Creek Road at the downstream end of the Elisha 
Creek valley (near the mouth of Elisha Creek). A few oil and gas wells 
are scattered throughout the drainage. Elisha Creek is 1 of 11 Red Bird 
River

[[Page 61044]]

tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that support Kentucky arrow 
populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, entire). See the 
description of proposed Unit 18 for more information regarding the 
characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 23, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitats 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, illegal off-road vehicle use, logging (on private land), timber 
management (on DBNF), inadequate sewage treatment, and natural gas and 
oil exploration activities. These threats are in addition to random 
effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 24: Gilberts Big Creek, Clay and Leslie Counties, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 24 is located east of KY 66 and generally parallel to 
Gilberts Creek Road in southeastern Clay County and western Leslie 
County. This proposed unit includes 7.2 skm (4.5 smi) of Gilberts Big 
Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with the Red 
Bird River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured throughout 
this unit. A portion of this unit is privately owned (2.0 skm (1.2 
smi)), but the majority of the unit is in Federal ownership 
(administered by DNBF). Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14). This unit comprises a portion of the species' core population 
within the Red Bird River watershed and contributes to connectivity of 
streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 24 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest. A few scattered residences and 
small farms are located along Gilberts Creek Road at the downstream end 
of the valley near the mouth of Gilberts Big Creek. Several gas and oil 
wells are also scattered throughout the valley. Gilberts Big Creek is 1 
of 11 Red Bird River tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that support 
Kentucky arrow populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, entire). 
See the description of proposed Unit 18 for more information regarding 
the characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 24, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitats 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, off-road vehicle use, logging (on private land), timber 
management (on DBNF), inadequate sewage treatment, agricultural runoff, 
and natural gas and oil exploration activities. These threats are in 
addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 25: Sugar Creek, Clay and Leslie Counties, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 25 is located off Sugar Creek Road in southeastern 
Clay County and western Leslie County and includes 7.2 skm (4.5 smi) of 
Sugar Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with the 
Red Bird River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured 
throughout this unit (Thomas 2008, p. 4; Thomas et al. 2014, p. 23). A 
portion of this unit is privately owned (1.1 skm (0.7 smi)), but the 
majority of the unit is in Federal ownership (administered by DNBF). 
Land and resource management decisions and activities within the DBNF 
are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit comprises a 
portion of the species' core population within the Red Bird River 
watershed and contributes to connectivity of streams within the 
watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 25 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest. A few scattered residences and 
small farms are located along Sugar Creek Road at the downstream end of 
the valley near the mouth of Sugar Creek. Several gas and oil wells are 
also scattered throughout the valley. Sugar Creek is 1 of 11 Red Bird 
River tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that support Kentucky arrow 
populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, entire). See the 
description of proposed Unit 18 for more information regarding the 
characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 25, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, off-road vehicle use, logging (on private land), timber 
management (on DBNF), inadequate sewage treatment, agricultural runoff, 
and natural gas and oil exploration activities. These threats are in 
addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 26: Big Double Creek and Tributaries, Clay County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 26 is located adjacent to Big Double Creek Road in 
southeastern Clay County. This unit includes 1.4 skm (0.9 smi) of Left 
Fork Big Double Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence 
with Big Double Creek, 1.8 skm (1.1 smi) of Right Fork Big Double Creek 
from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Big Double Creek, 
and 7.1 skm (4.4 smi) of Big Double Creek from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with the Red Bird River. Live Kentucky 
arrow darters have been captured from numerous localities in proposed 
Unit 26, which has been surveyed regularly by KDFWR and Service 
personnel (Thomas 2008, p. 4; Thomas et al. 2014, p. 23; Service 
unpublished data). This unit is entirely in Federal ownership 
(administered by DNBF). Land and resource management decisions and 
activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-
14). This unit comprises a portion of the species' core population 
within the Red Bird River watershed and contributes to connectivity of 
streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 26 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest, with about 90 percent in Federal 
ownership (administered by DBNF). The only residential development is 
concentrated along Arnett Fork Road, which parallels Arnett Fork, a 
first order tributary of Big Double Creek. A USFS public use area (Big 
Double Creek Recreational Area) is located adjacent to Unit 26, 
approximately 1.6 skm (1.0 smi) upstream of Arnett Fork. This area 
consists of a gravel road and parking lot, a bathroom facility, several 
picnic tables, and two maintained fields connected by a pedestrian 
bridge over Big Double Creek. Upstream of the public use area, Big 
Double Creek can be accessed via USFS Road 1501, which extends upstream 
to the confluence of the Left and Right Forks. Big Double Creek is 1 of 
11 Red Bird River tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that support 
Kentucky arrow populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, entire). 
See the description of proposed Unit 18 for more information regarding 
the characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 26, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation) associated with road runoff, off-road 
vehicle use, and timber management (on DBNF). These threats are in 
addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

[[Page 61045]]

Unit 27: Little Double Creek, Clay County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 27 is located adjacent to Little Double Creek Road in 
southeastern Clay County. This unit includes 3.4 skm (2.1 smi) of 
Little Double Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence 
with the Red Bird River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured 
from two localities in proposed Unit 27 (Thomas 2008, p. 4; Service 
unpublished data). One hundred percent of this unit is in Federal 
ownership (administered by DBNF), and the DBNF's Redbird Ranger 
District headquarters is located off KY 66 at the mouth of Little 
Double Creek. Land and resource management decisions and activities 
within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This 
unit comprises a portion of the species' core population within the Red 
Bird River watershed and contributes to connectivity of streams within 
the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 27 is entirely forested, 
with no private residences or other structures. The only interruption 
in the canopy of the watershed is the Little Double Creek Road 
corridor, which traverses the length of the valley. Little Double Creek 
is 1 of 11 Red Bird River tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that 
support Kentucky arrow populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, 
entire). See the description of proposed Unit 18 for more information 
regarding the characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 27, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation) associated with road runoff, illegal 
off-road vehicle use, and timber management (on DBNF). These threats 
are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 28: Jacks Creek, Clay County, Kentucky

    This proposed unit is located along Jacks Creek Road, north of Hal 
Rogers Parkway and east of KY 66 in eastern Clay County. Unit 28 
includes 5.9 skm (3.7 smi) of Jacks Creek from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with the Red Bird River. Live Kentucky 
arrow darters have been captured from proposed Unit 28 just downstream 
of the Crib Branch confluence (Service 2012, entire). A small portion 
of this unit is in Federal ownership (0.5 skm (0.3 smi)), but the 
majority of the unit is privately owned. For the portion of the unit in 
Federal ownership (administered by DBNF), land and resource management 
decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP 
(USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit comprises a portion of the species' 
core population within the Red Bird River watershed and contributes to 
connectivity of streams within the watershed.
    The valley bottom surrounding proposed Unit 28 is comprised of a 
mixture of residences (many in clusters) and small farms (e.g., 
pasture, hayfields) scattered along Jacks Creek Road, which parallels 
Jacks Creek for most of its length. Ridgetops and hillsides in most of 
the valley are relatively undisturbed and dominated by forest. Jacks 
Creek is 1 of 11 Red Bird River tributaries (proposed Units 18-28) that 
support Kentucky arrow populations (Thomas 2008, entire; Service 2012, 
entire). See the description of proposed Unit 18 for more information 
regarding the characterization of the streams within this drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 28, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, inadequate sewage treatment, agricultural runoff, inadequate 
riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of county roads, illegal 
off-road vehicle use, logging (on private land), and timber management 
(on DBNF). These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, 
floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 29: Long Fork, Clay County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 29 is located along USFS Road 1633, which is west of 
KY 149 and the Hal Rogers Parkway in eastern Clay County. Unit 29 
includes 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Long Fork from its headwaters downstream 
to its confluence with Hector Branch. Live Kentucky arrow darters have 
been captured throughout proposed Unit 29 as a result of a 
reintroduction effort by KDFWR and Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI) 
of Knoxville, Tennessee (Thomas et al. 2014, p. 23) (see Available 
Conservation Measures section of our proposed listing rule published 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register). One hundred percent of this 
unit is in Federal ownership (administered by DBNF). Land and resource 
management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by 
DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit comprises a portion of the 
species' core population within the Red Bird River watershed and 
contributes to connectivity of streams within the watershed.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 29 is entirely forested, 
with no private residences or other structures. The only minor 
interruption in the canopy of the watershed is the USFS Road 1633 
corridor, which parallels Long Fork for part of its length. Habitats in 
Long Fork are similar to other occupied streams (proposed Units 18-28) 
in the Red Bird River drainage. See the description of proposed Unit 18 
for more information regarding the characterization of the streams 
within the Red Bird drainage.
    Within proposed Unit 29, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation) associated with road runoff, illegal 
off-road vehicle use, and timber management (on DBNF). These threats 
are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 30: Horse Creek, Clay County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 30 is located adjacent to Reynolds Road and Elijah 
Feltner Road in southwestern Clay County. It includes 5.0 skm (3.1 smi) 
of Horse Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with 
Pigeon Roost Branch. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured 
within this unit approximately 1.9 skm (1.2 smi) downstream of the 
confluence of Horse Creek and Tuttle Branch (Service unpublished data). 
A portion of proposed Unit 30 is in Federal ownership (2.0 skm (1.2 
smi)), but the majority of the unit is privately owned. For the portion 
of the basin in Federal ownership (administered by DBNF), land and 
resource management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided 
by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit helps to maintain the 
geographical range of the species and represents the only occupied 
habitat within the Goose Creek watershed.
    The valley bottom surrounding proposed Unit 30 is comprised of a 
mixture of forest, small farms, and residences. Ridgetops and hillsides 
in most of the valley are relatively undisturbed and dominated by 
forest. Within proposed Unit 30, the Kentucky arrow darter and its 
habitat may require special management considerations or protection to 
address adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated 
with road runoff, agricultural runoff, inadequate sewage treatment,

[[Page 61046]]

lack of riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of county roads, 
illegal off-road vehicle use, and logging on private land and timber 
management on DBNF. These threats are in addition to random effects of 
drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 31: Bullskin Creek, Clay and Leslie Counties, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 31 is located along KY 1482, east of the town of 
Oneida, Kentucky, in eastern Clay County and northwestern Leslie 
County. It includes 21.7 skm (13.5 smi) of Bullskin Creek from its 
confluence with Old House Branch downstream to its confluence with the 
South Fork Kentucky River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been 
captured from Unit 31 at the confluence of Long Branch and just 
upstream of the confluence of Barger Branch (Thomas 2008, p. 4; Service 
2012, entire). A small portion of this unit is in Federal ownership 
(0.4 skm (0.2 smi)), but the majority of the unit is privately owned. 
For the portion of the basin in Federal ownership (administered by 
DBNF), land and resource management decisions and activities within the 
DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit helps 
to maintain the geographical range of the species and provides 
opportunity for population growth.
    The valley bottom surrounding proposed Unit 31 is comprised of a 
mixture of residences (many in clusters) and small farms (e.g., 
pasture, hayfields) scattered along KY 1482, which parallels Bullskin 
Creek for its entire length. Ridgetops and hillsides in most of the 
valley are relatively undisturbed and dominated by forest, but a few 
watersheds show signs of active or recent disturbance. Surface coal 
mining is currently ongoing in the watersheds of Wiles Branch (Permit 
#826-0649), Barger Branch (Permit #826-0664), and a few unnamed 
tributaries of Bullskin Creek (Permit #826-0664). Recent logging 
activities have occurred in the watershed of Panco Branch.
    Within proposed Unit 31, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, surface coal mining, inadequate sewage treatment, agricultural 
runoff, lack of riparian buffers, construction and maintenance of 
county roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, and logging. These threats 
are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or other natural 
phenomena.

Unit 32: Buffalo Creek and Tributaries, Owsley County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 32 is located north of Oneida, Kentucky, and east of 
KY 11 in southeastern Owsley County. This unit includes 2.0 skm (1.2 
smi) of Cortland Fork from its headwaters downstream to its confluence 
with Laurel Fork, 6.4 skm (4.0 smi) of Laurel Fork from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with Left Fork Buffalo Creek, 4.6 skm (2.9 
smi) of Lucky Fork from its headwaters downstream to its confluence 
with Left Fork Buffalo Creek, 5.1 skm (3.2 smi) of Left Fork Buffalo 
Creek from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Buffalo 
Creek, 17.3 skm (10.8 smi) of Right Fork Buffalo Creek from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with Buffalo Creek, and 2.7 skm 
(1.7 smi) of Buffalo Creek from its confluence with Left Fork Buffalo 
Creek and Right Fork Buffalo Creek downstream to its confluence with 
the South Fork Kentucky River. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been 
captured from multiple locations throughout proposed Unit 32 (Thomas 
2008, p. 4; Service 2012, entire). A portion of this unit is in Federal 
ownership (administered by DBNF) (14.9 skm (9.3 smi)), but the majority 
of the unit is in private ownership. For the portion in Federal 
ownership, land and resource management decisions and activities are 
guided by DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit represents a 
stronghold for the species within the lower half of the South Fork 
Kentucky River sub-basin and likely acts a source population.
    Ridgetops and hillsides in most of the valley surrounding proposed 
Unit 32 are relatively undisturbed and dominated by forest, but 
portions of the valley bottom surrounding Unit 32 have been cleared and 
consist of a mixture of residences (many in clusters) and small farms 
(e.g., pasture, hayfields, row crops) scattered along roadways. Surface 
coal mining has has been conducted recently or is currently ongoing in 
the headwaters of Left Fork Buffalo Creek, specifically Stamper Branch 
of Lucky Fork (Permit #895-0175), Cortland Fork of Laurel Fork (Permit 
#813-0271), and Joyce Fork of Laurel Fork (Permit #895-0175).
    Within proposed Unit 32, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat 
may require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, surface coal mining, inadequate sewage treatment, inadequate 
riparian buffers, agricultural runoff, construction and maintenance of 
roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, logging (on private land), and 
timber management (on DBNF). These threats are in addition to random 
effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 33: Lower Buffalo Creek, Lee and Owsley Counties, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 33 is located along KY 1411 and Straight Fork-Zeke 
Branch Road in southern Lee and northern Owsley Counties. This unit 
includes 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Straight Fork from its headwaters 
downstream to its confluence with Lower Buffalo Creek and 5.1 skm (3.2 
smi) of Lower Buffalo Creek from its confluence with Straight Fork 
downstream to its confluence with the South Fork Kentucky River. Live 
Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within proposed Unit 33 at 
the confluence of Lower Buffalo Creek and Straight Fork (Thomas 2008, 
p. 4). This unit is located almost entirely on private land, except for 
any small amount that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings 
and road easements. This unit helps to maintain the geographical range 
of the species and provides opportunity for population growth.
    Ridgetops and hillsides in most of the valley surrounding proposed 
Unit 33 are relatively undisturbed and dominated by forest, but large 
portions of the valley bottom surrounding proposed Unit 33 have been 
cleared and consist of a mixture of residences (many in clusters) and 
small farms (e.g., pasture, hayfields, row crops). Extensive logging 
has occurred recently (within the last 7 years) within Jerushia Branch, 
a first order tributary of Lower Buffalo Creek.
    Within this unit, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may 
require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, construction and maintenance of roads, inadequate sewage 
treatment, inadequate riparian buffers, agricultural runoff, illegal 
off-road vehicle use, and logging. These threats are in addition to 
random effects of drought, floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 34: Silver Creek, Lee County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 34 is located along along Silver Creek Road, 
partially within the city limits of Beattyville in central Lee County. 
This unit includes 6.2 skm (3.9 smi) of Silver Creek from its 
headwaters downstream to its confluence with the Kentucky River. Live 
Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within proposed Unit 34 
approximately 1.4 skm (0.9 smi)

[[Page 61047]]

upstream of the mouth of Silver Creek (Thomas 2008, p. 5). This unit is 
located almost entirely on private land, except for any small amount 
that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and road 
easements. This unit helps to maintain the geographical range of the 
species and provides opportunity for population growth.
    The valley surrounding proposed Unit 34 is unusual among occupied 
watersheds because it is not located in a rural area. The mouth of 
Silver Creek (downstream terminus of Unit 34) is located within the 
city limits of Beattyville, and the downstream half of the watershed is 
moderately developed, with numerous residences along Silver Creek Road. 
The upstream half of the watershed is less developed and dominated by 
forest. Within this unit, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may 
require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, construction and maintenance of roads, inadequate sewage 
treatment, inadequate riparian buffers, and illegal off-road vehicle 
use. These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, 
floods, or other natural phenomena.

Unit 35: Travis Creek, Jackson County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 35 is located along Travis Creek Road in eastern 
Jackson County. This unit includes 4.1 skm (2.5 smi) of Travis Creek 
from its headwaters downstream to its confluence with Hector Branch. 
Live Kentucky arrow darters have been captured within proposed Unit 35 
approximately 1.8 skm (1.1 smi) upstream of the mouth of Travis Creek. 
This unit is located almost entirely on private land, except for any 
small amount that is publicly owned in the form of bridge crossings and 
road easements. This unit represents the western extent of the species' 
range and increases population redundancy within the species' range.
    A few agricultural fields are located near the mouth of Travis 
Creek, but most of the watershed surrounding proposed Unit 35 is 
forested, with no private residences or other structures. Some of the 
forest is early successional due to recent logging in the watershed. 
Within proposed Unit 35, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may 
require special management considerations or protection to address 
adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road 
runoff, off-road vehicle use, inadequate riparian buffers, construction 
and maintenance of county roads, agricultural runoff, and logging. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 36: Wild Dog Creek, Jackson and Owsley Counties, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 36 is located west of Sturgeon Creek in eastern 
Jackson and northwestern Owsley Counties. This unit includes 8.1 skm 
(5.1 smi) of Wild Dog Creek from its headwaters downstream to its 
confluence with Sturgeon Creek. Live Kentucky arrow darters have been 
captured within proposed Unit 36 just upstream of the mouth of Wild Dog 
Creek. A portion of this unit is in Federal ownership (3.8 skm (2.4 
smi)), but the majority of the unit is in private ownership. For the 
portion of the unit in Federal ownership (administered by DBNF), land 
and resource management decisions and activities are guided by DBNF's 
LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit represents the western extent of 
the species' range and increases population redundancy within the 
species' range.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 36 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest, but a few scattered residences and 
small farms occur in the headwaters just east of KY 587. Within 
proposed Unit 36, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address adverse 
effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road runoff, 
construction and maintenance of roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, 
inadequate riparian buffers, agricultural runoff, logging (on private 
land), timber management (on DBNF), and inadequate sewage treatment. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 37: Granny Dismal Creek, Lee and Owsley Counties, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 37 is located west of Sturgeon Creek in western Lee 
and eastern Owsley Counties. This unit includes 6.9 skm (4.3 smi) of 
Granny Dismal Creek from its confluence with Harris Branch downstream 
to its confluence with Sturgeon Creek. Live Kentucky arrow darters have 
been captured within proposed Unit 37 approximately 1.1 skm (0.7 smi) 
upstream of the mouth of Granny Dismal Creek. A portion (2.5 skm (1.6 
smi)) of this unit is in Federal ownership (administered by DBNF), but 
the majority of the unit is privately owned. Land and resource 
management decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by 
DBNF's LRMP (USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit represents the western 
extent of the species' range and increases population redundancy within 
the species' range.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 37 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest, but a few scattered residences and 
small farms occur in the headwaters just east of KY 587. Within 
proposed Unit 37, the Kentucky arrow darter and its habitat may require 
special management considerations or protection to address adverse 
effects (e.g., siltation, water pollution) associated with road runoff, 
construction and maintenance of roads, illegal off-road vehicle use, 
inadequate riparian buffers, agricultural runoff, logging (on private 
land), timber management (on DBNF), and inadequate sewage treatment. 
These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, floods, or 
other natural phenomena.

Unit 38: Rockbridge Fork, Wolfe County, Kentucky

    Proposed Unit 38 is located within the Red River Gorge region in 
northwestern Wolfe County and represents the only occupied habitat 
within the Red River drainage. This unit includes 4.5 skm (2.8 smi) of 
Rockbridge Fork from its confluence with Harris Branch downstream to 
its confluence with Sturgeon Creek. Live Kentucky arrow darters have 
been captured within proposed Unit 38 approximately 0.2 skm (0.1 smi) 
upstream of the mouth of Rockbridge Fork. This unit is entirely in 
Federal ownership (administered by DBNF). Land and resource management 
decisions and activities within the DBNF are guided by DBNF's LRMP 
(USFS 2004, pp. 1-14). This unit represents the northern extent of the 
species' range and increases population redundancy within the species' 
range.
    The watershed surrounding proposed Unit 38 is relatively 
undisturbed and dominated by forest, but a few scattered residences and 
small farms occur in the headwaters of Rockbridge Fork near the 
Mountain Parkway (KY 402). Within proposed Unit 38, the Kentucky arrow 
darter and its habitat may require special management considerations or 
protection to address adverse effects (e.g., siltation, water 
pollution) associated with road runoff, illegal off-road vehicle use, 
agricultural runoff, timber management (on DBNF), and inadequate sewage 
treatment. These threats are in addition to random effects of drought, 
floods, or other natural phenomena.

Effects of Critical Habitat Designation

Section 7 Consultation

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies, including the 
Service,

[[Page 61048]]

to ensure that any action they fund, authorize, or carry out is not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species 
or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of designated critical habitat of such species. In 
addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to 
confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed 
under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
proposed critical habitat.
    Decisions by the 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals have 
invalidated our regulatory definition of ``destruction or adverse 
modification'' (50 CFR 402.02) (see Gifford Pinchot Task Force v. U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 378 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2004) and Sierra 
Club v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 245 F.3d 434 (5th Cir. 2001)), 
and we do not rely on this regulatory definition when analyzing whether 
an action is likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. 
Under the statutory provisions of the Act, we determine destruction or 
adverse modification on the basis of whether, with implementation of 
the proposed Federal action, the affected critical habitat would 
continue to serve its intended conservation role for the species.
    If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical 
habitat, the responsible Federal agency (action agency) must enter into 
consultation with us. Examples of actions that are subject to the 
section 7 consultation process are actions on State, tribal, local, or 
private lands that require a Federal permit (such as a permit from the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under section 404 of the Clean Water Act 
(33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) or a permit from the Service under section 10 
of the Act) or that involve some other Federal action (such as funding 
from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation 
Administration, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency). Federal 
actions not affecting listed species or critical habitat, and actions 
on State, tribal, local, or private lands that are not federally funded 
or authorized, do not require section 7 consultation.
    As a result of section 7 consultation, we document compliance with 
the requirements of section 7(a)(2) through our issuance of:
    (1) A concurrence letter for Federal actions that may affect, but 
are not likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat; 
or
    (2) A biological opinion for Federal actions that may affect and 
are likely to adversely affect, listed species or critical habitat.
    When we issue a biological opinion concluding that a project is 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species and/or 
destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we provide reasonable and 
prudent alternatives to the project, if any are identifiable, that 
would avoid the likelihood of jeopardy and/or destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat. We define ``reasonable and prudent 
alternatives'' (at 50 CFR 402.02) as alternative actions identified 
during consultation that:
    (1) Can be implemented in a manner consistent with the intended 
purpose of the action,
    (2) Can be implemented consistent with the scope of the Federal 
agency's legal authority and jurisdiction,
    (3) Are economically and technologically feasible, and
    (4) Would, in the Director's opinion, avoid the likelihood of 
jeopardizing the continued existence of the listed species and/or avoid 
the likelihood of destroying or adversely modifying critical habitat.
    Reasonable and prudent alternatives can vary from slight project 
modifications to extensive redesign or relocation of the project. Costs 
associated with implementing a reasonable and prudent alternative are 
similarly variable.
    Regulations at 50 CFR 402.16 require Federal agencies to reinitiate 
consultation on previously reviewed actions in instances where we have 
listed a new species or subsequently designated critical habitat that 
may be affected and the Federal agency has retained discretionary 
involvement or control over the action (or the agency's discretionary 
involvement or control is authorized by law). Consequently, Federal 
agencies sometimes may need to request reinitiation of consultation 
with us on actions for which formal consultation has been completed, if 
those actions with discretionary involvement or control may affect 
subsequently listed species or designated critical habitat.

Application of the ``Adverse Modification'' Standard

    The key factor related to the adverse modification determination is 
whether, with implementation of the proposed Federal action, the 
affected critical habitat would continue to serve its intended 
conservation role for the species. Activities that may destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat are those that alter the physical or 
biological features to an extent that appreciably reduces the 
conservation value of critical habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter. 
As discussed above, the role of critical habitat is to support life-
history needs of the species and provide for the conservation of the 
species.
    Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and 
describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical 
habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may destroy or 
adversely modify such habitat, or that may be affected by such 
designation.
    Activities that may affect critical habitat, when carried out, 
funded, or authorized by a Federal agency, should result in 
consultation for the Kentucky arrow darter. These activities include, 
but are not limited to:
    (1) Actions that would alter the geomorphology of stream habitats. 
Such activities could include, but are not limited to, instream 
excavation or dredging, impoundment, channelization, road and bridge 
construction, surface coal mining, and discharge of fill materials. 
These activities could cause aggradation or degradation of the channel 
bed elevation or significant bank erosion that would degrade or 
eliminate habitats necessary for growth and reproduction of the 
Kentucky arrow darter.
    (2) Actions that would significantly alter the existing flow regime 
or water quantity. Such activities could include, but are not limited 
to, impoundment, water diversion, water withdrawal, and hydropower 
generation. These activities could eliminate or reduce the habitat 
necessary for growth and reproduction of this species.
    (3) Actions that would significantly alter water quality (for 
example, temperature, pH, contaminants, and excess nutrients). Such 
activities could include, but are not limited to, the release of 
chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated effluents into surface 
water or connected groundwater at a point source or by dispersed 
release (non-point source). These activities could alter water 
conditions to levels that are beyond the tolerances of the Kentucky 
arrow darter (e.g., elevated conductivity) and result in direct or 
cumulative adverse effects to the species and its life cycle.
    (4) Actions that would significantly alter stream bed material 
composition and quality by increasing sediment deposition or 
filamentous algal growth. Such activities could include, but are not 
limited to, construction projects, channel alteration, livestock 
grazing, timber harvests, off-road vehicle use, and other watershed and 
floodplain disturbances that release sediments or

[[Page 61049]]

nutrients into the water. These activities could eliminate or degrade 
habitats necessary for the growth and reproduction of the Kentucky 
arrow darter by increasing the sediment deposition to levels that would 
adversely affect its ability to complete its life cycle.

Exemptions

Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act

    Section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act provides that: ``The Secretary 
shall not designate as critical habitat any lands or other geographical 
areas owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, or designated 
for its use, that are subject to an integrated natural resources 
management plan [INRMP] prepared under section 101 of the Sikes Act (16 
U.S.C. 670a), if the Secretary determines in writing that such plan 
provides a benefit to the species for which critical habitat is 
proposed for designation.'' There are no Department of Defense lands 
with a completed INRMP within the proposed critical habitat 
designation.

Consideration of Impacts Under Section 4(b)(2) of the Act

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act states that the Secretary shall 
designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the 
best available scientific data after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant 
impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The 
Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if she determines 
that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying 
such area as part of the critical habitat, unless she determines, based 
on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate 
such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the 
species. In making that determination, the statute on its face, as well 
as the legislative history, are clear that the Secretary has broad 
discretion regarding which factor(s) to use and how much weight to give 
to any factor.
    When considering the benefits of exclusion, we consider, among 
other things, whether exclusion of a specific area is likely to result 
in conservation; the continuation, strengthening, or encouragement of 
partnerships; or implementation of a management plan. In the case of 
the Kentucky arrow darter, the benefits of critical habitat include 
public awareness of the presence of the Kentucky arrow darter and the 
importance of habitat protection, and, where a Federal nexus exists, 
increased habitat protection for the Kentucky arrow darter due to 
protection from adverse modification or destruction of critical 
habitat. In practice, situations with a Federal nexus exist primarily 
on Federal lands or for projects undertaken by Federal agencies.
    After identifying the benefits of inclusion and the benefits of 
exclusion, we carefully weigh the two sides to evaluate whether the 
benefits of exclusion outweigh those of inclusion. If our analysis 
indicates that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
inclusion, we then determine whether exclusion would result in 
extinction. If exclusion of an area from critical habitat will result 
in extinction, we will not exclude it from the designation.
    The final decision on whether to exclude any areas will be based on 
the best scientific data available at the time of the final 
designation, including information obtained during the comment period.

Consideration of Economic Impacts

    Section 4(b)(2) of the Act and its implementing regulations require 
that we consider the economic impact that may result from a designation 
of critical habitat. To assess the probable economic impacts of a 
designation, we must first evaluate specific land uses or activities 
and projects that may occur in the area of the critical habitat. We 
then must evaluate the impacts that a specific critical habitat 
designation may have on restricting or modifying specific land uses or 
activities for the benefit of the species and its habitat within the 
areas proposed. We then identify which conservation efforts may be the 
result of the species being listed under the Act versus those 
attributed solely to the designation of critical habitat for this 
particular species. The probable economic impact of a proposed critical 
habitat designation is analyzed by comparing scenarios both ``with 
critical habitat'' and ``without critical habitat.'' The ``without 
critical habitat'' scenario represents the baseline for the analysis, 
which includes the existing regulatory and socio-economic burden 
imposed on landowners, managers, or other resource users potentially 
affected by the designation of critical habitat (e.g., under the 
Federal listing as well as other Federal, State, and local 
regulations). The baseline, therefore, represents the costs of all 
efforts attributable to the listing of the species under the Act (i.e., 
conservation of the species and its habitat incurred regardless of 
whether critical habitat is designated). The ``with critical habitat'' 
scenario describes the incremental impacts associated specifically with 
the designation of critical habitat for the species. The incremental 
conservation efforts and associated impacts would not be expected 
without the designation of critical habitat for the species. In other 
words, the incremental costs are those attributable solely to the 
designation of critical habitat, above and beyond the baseline costs. 
These are the costs we use when evaluating the benefits of inclusion 
and exclusion of particular areas from the final designation of 
critical habitat should we choose to conduct an optional 4(b)(2) 
exclusion analysis.
    For this proposed designation, we developed an incremental effects 
memorandum (IEM) considering the probable incremental economic impacts 
that may result from this proposed designation of critical habitat. The 
information contained in our IEM was then used to develop a screening 
analysis of the probable effects of the designation of critical habitat 
for the Kentucky arrow darter (Abt Associates 2015, p. 1). The purpose 
of the screening analysis is to filter out the geographic areas in 
which the critical habitat designation is unlikely to result in 
probable incremental economic impacts. In particular, the screening 
analysis considers baseline costs (i.e., absent critical habitat 
designation) and includes probable economic impacts where land and 
water use may be subject to conservation plans, land management plans, 
best management practices, or regulations that protect the habitat area 
as a result of the Federal listing status of the species. The screening 
analysis filters out particular areas of critical habitat that are 
already subject to such protections and are therefore unlikely to incur 
incremental economic impacts. Ultimately, the screening analysis allows 
us to focus our analysis on evaluating the specific areas or sectors 
that may incur probable incremental economic impacts as a result of the 
designation. This screening analysis combined with the information 
contained in our IEM are what we consider our draft economic analysis 
(DEA) of the proposed critical habitat designation for the Kentucky 
arrow darter and is summarized in the narrative below.
    Executive Orders (E.O.) 12866 and 13563 direct Federal agencies to 
assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives in 
quantitative (to the extent feasible) and qualitative terms. Consistent 
with the E.O. regulatory analysis requirements, our effects analysis 
under the Act may take into consideration impacts to both directly and 
indirectly impacted entities, where practicable and reasonable. We 
assess to the extent

[[Page 61050]]

practicable, the probable impacts, if sufficient data are available, to 
both directly and indirectly impacted entities. As part of our 
screening analysis, we considered the types of economic activities that 
are likely to occur within the areas likely affected by the critical 
habitat designation. In our evaluation of the probable incremental 
economic impacts that may result from the proposed designation of 
critical habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter, first we identified, in 
the IEM dated July 23, 2015, probable projects associated with the 
following land use sectors: (1) Agriculture; (2) conservation/
restoration; (3) development; (4) forest management; (5) grazing; (6) 
mining; (7) oil and gas; (8) recreation; (9) silviculture/timber; (10) 
transportation; and (11) water quality. We considered each industry or 
category individually. Additionally, we considered whether their 
activities have any Federal involvement. Critical habitat designation 
will not affect activities that do not have any Federal involvement, 
but rather only activities conducted, funded, permitted, or authorized 
by Federal agencies. In areas where the Kentucky arrow darter is 
present, Federal agencies already are required to consult with the 
Service under section 7 of the Act on activities they fund, permit, or 
implement that may affect the species. If we finalize this proposed 
critical habitat designation, consultations to avoid the destruction or 
adverse modification of critical habitat would be incorporated into the 
existing consultation process.
    In our IEM, we attempted to clarify the distinction between the 
effects that will result from the species being listed and those 
attributable to the critical habitat designation (i.e., difference 
between the jeopardy and adverse modification standards) for the 
Kentucky arrow darter's critical habitat. Because the designation of 
critical habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter is proposed concurrently 
with the listing, it has been our experience that it is more difficult 
to discern which conservation efforts are attributable to the species 
being listed and those which will result solely from the designation of 
critical habitat. However, the following specific circumstances in this 
case help to inform our evaluation: (1) The essential physical or 
biological features identified for critical habitat are the same 
features essential for the life requisites of the species, and (2) any 
actions that would result in sufficient harm or harassment to 
constitute jeopardy to the Kentucky arrow darter would also likely 
adversely affect the essential physical or biological features of 
critical habitat. The IEM outlines our rationale concerning this 
limited distinction between baseline conservation efforts and 
incremental impacts of the designation of critical habitat for this 
species. This evaluation of the incremental effects has been used as 
the basis to evaluate the probable incremental economic impacts of this 
proposed designation of critical habitat.
    The proposed critical habitat designation for the Kentucky arrow 
consists of 38 units, encompassing approximately 395 skm (246 smi) in 
eastern Kentucky. Included lands (i.e., stream bottoms; as noted 
previously, waters are owned by the State) are under Federal, State, 
and private ownership, and all are within the area occupied by the 
Kentucky arrow darter at the time of listing. Federal land is 
predominant in Units 15, 19-27, and 38. In these units, Federal lands 
make up over 50 percent of the acreage, which accounts for 26.3 percent 
of the total proposed critical habitat acreage. State-owned lands are 
located in two units (proposed Units 3 and 4) and make up 4.5 percent 
of the total proposed critical habitat acreage. Privately owned land is 
present in all but six units, ranging from 0 to 100 percent. Private 
lands account for 69.2 percent of the total proposed critical habitat 
acreage.
    Because all of the units proposed as critical habitat for the 
Kentucky arrow darter are currently occupied by the species, any 
actions that may affect the species or its habitat would also affect 
critical habitat and it is unlikely that any additional conservation 
efforts would be recommended to address the adverse modification 
standard over and above those recommended as necessary to avoid 
jeopardizing the continued existence of the Kentucky arrow darter. Any 
anticipated incremental costs of the critical habitat designation will 
predominantly be administrative in nature and would not be significant. 
Critical habitat may impact property values indirectly if developers 
assume the designation will limit the potential use of that land. 
However, the designation of critical habitat is not likely to result in 
an increase of consultations, but rather only the additional 
administrative effort within each consultation to address the effects 
of each proposed agency action on critical habitat.
    As we stated earlier, we are soliciting data and comments from the 
public on the DEA, as well as all aspects of the proposed rule and 
required determinations. We may revise the proposed rule or supporting 
documents to incorporate or address information we receive during the 
public comment period. In particular, we may exclude an area from 
critical habitat if we determine that the benefits of excluding the 
area outweigh the benefits of including the area, provided the 
exclusion will not result in the extinction of this species.

Exclusion Based on Economic Impacts

    Our DEA did not identify any disproportionate costs that are likely 
to result from the designmation. Consequently, the Secretary is not 
exercising her discretion to excule any areas from this proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the Kentucy arrow darter based on 
economic impacts.
    During the development of a final designation, we will consider any 
additional economic impact information received through the public 
comment period, and as such areas may be excluded from the final 
critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act and our 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.19.

Exclusions Based on National Security Impacts

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we must consider whether there 
are areas where designation of critical habitat might have an impact on 
national security. In preparing this proposal, we have determined that 
the areas within the proposed designation of critical habitat for the 
Kentucky arrow darter are not owned or managed by the Department of 
Defense or Department of Homeland Security, and, therefore, we 
anticipate no impact on national security. Consequently, the Secretary 
is not intending to exercise her discretion to exclude any areas from 
the final designation based on impacts on national security.

Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts

    Under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we consider any other relevant 
impacts, in addition to economic impacts and impacts on national 
security. We consider a number of factors, including whether the 
landowners have developed any HCPs or other management plans for the 
area, or whether there are conservation partnerships that would be 
encouraged by designation of, or exclusion from, critical habitat. In 
addition, we look at any tribal issues, and consider the government-to-
government relationship of the United States with tribal entities. We 
also consider any social impacts that might occur because of the 
designation.
    In preparing this proposal, we have determined that there are 
currently no

[[Page 61051]]

HCPs or other management plans for the Kentucky arrow darter, and the 
proposed designation does not include any tribal lands or trust 
resources. We anticipate no impact on tribal lands, partnerships, or 
HCPs from this proposed critical habitat designation. Accordingly, the 
Secretary does not intend to exercise her discretion to exclude any 
areas from the final designation based on other relevant impacts.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the 
Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we will seek the expert 
opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of peer review is to ensure 
that our critical habitat designation is based on scientifically sound 
data and analyses. We have invited these peer reviewers to comment 
during this public comment period.
    We will consider all comments and information we receive during 
this comment period on this proposed rule during our preparation of a 
final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from 
this proposal.

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be sent to the address shown in the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. We will schedule public hearings 
on this proposal, if any are requested, and announce the dates, times, 
and places of those hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable 
accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 
15 days before the hearing.

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The Office 
of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is 
not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while 
calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches 
that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for 
the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 emphasizes 
further that regulations must be based on the best available science 
and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and 
an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner 
consistent with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 
1996 (SBREFA; 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), whenever an agency is required to 
publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must 
prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility 
analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities 
(i.e., small businesses, small organizations, and small government 
jurisdictions). However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required 
if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The SBREFA amended the RFA to require Federal agencies to provide a 
certification statement of the factual basis for certifying that the 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities.
    According to the Small Business Administration, small entities 
include small organizations such as independent nonprofit 
organizations; small governmental jurisdictions, including school 
boards and city and town governments that serve fewer than 50,000 
residents; and small businesses (13 CFR 121.201). Small businesses 
include manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 
employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, 
retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual 
sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 
million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than 
$11.5 million in annual business, and agricultural businesses with 
annual sales less than $750,000. To determine if potential economic 
impacts to these small entities are significant, we considered the 
types of activities that might trigger regulatory impacts under this 
designation as well as types of project modifications that may result. 
In general, the term ``significant economic impact'' is meant to apply 
to a typical small business firm's business operations.
    The Service's current understanding of the requirements under the 
RFA, as amended, and following recent court decisions, is that Federal 
agencies are only required to evaluate the potential incremental 
impacts of rulemaking on those entities directly regulated by the 
rulemaking itself, and therefore, not required to evaluate the 
potential impacts to indirectly regulated entities. The regulatory 
mechanism through which critical habitat protections are realized is 
section 7 of the Act, which requires Federal agencies, in consultation 
with the Service, to ensure that any action authorized, funded, or 
carried out by the agency is not likely to destroy or adversely modify 
critical habitat. Therefore, under section 7, only Federal action 
agencies are directly subject to the specific regulatory requirement 
(avoiding destruction and adverse modification) imposed by critical 
habitat designation. Consequently, it is our position that only Federal 
action agencies will be directly regulated by this designation. 
Moreover, Federal agencies are not small entities. Therefore, because 
no small entities are directly regulated by this rulemaking, the 
Service certifies that, if promulgated, the proposed critical habitat 
designation will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.
    In summary, we have considered whether the proposed designation 
would result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities. For the above reasons and based on currently 
available information, we certify that, if promulgated, the proposed 
critical habitat designation would not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small business entities. Therefore, 
an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use--Executive Order 13211

    Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) requires 
agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking 
certain actions. In our economic analysis, we did not find that the 
designation of this proposed critical habitat will significantly affect 
energy supplies, distribution, or use. Natural gas and oil exploration 
and development activities occur or could potentially occur in all 
proposed units for the Kentucky arrow darter; however, compliance with 
State regulatory requirements or voluntary BMPs would

[[Page 61052]]

be expected to minimize impacts of natural gas and oil exploration and 
development in the areas of proposed critical habitat for the species. 
The measures for natural gas and oil exploration and development are 
generally not considered a substantial cost compared with overall 
project costs and are already being implemented by oil and gas 
companies.
    Surface coal mining occurs or could potentially occur in all 
proposed critical habitat units for the Kentucky arrow darter. 
Incidental take for listed species associated with surface coal mining 
activities is currently covered under a programmatic, non-jeopardy 
biological opinion between the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and 
Enforcement and the Service completed in 1996 (Service 1996, entire). 
The biological opinion covers existing, proposed, and future endangered 
and threatened species that may be affected by the implementation and 
administration of surface coal mining programs under the Surface Mining 
Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.). Through 
its analysis, the Service concluded that the proposed action (surface 
coal mining and reclamation activities) was not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species, or any 
species proposed for listing as an endangered or threatened species, or 
result in adverse modification of designated or proposed critical 
habitat. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and 
no Statement of Energy Effects is required. However, we will further 
evaluate this issue and review and revise this assessment as warranted.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.)

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), we make the following findings:
    (1) This rule would not produce a Federal mandate. In general, a 
Federal mandate is a provision in legislation, statute, or regulation 
that would impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal 
governments, or the private sector, and includes both ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandates'' and ``Federal private sector mandates.'' 
These terms are defined in 2 U.S.C. 658(5)-(7). ``Federal 
intergovernmental mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose 
an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments'' with two 
exceptions. It excludes ``a condition of Federal assistance.'' It also 
excludes ``a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal 
program,'' unless the regulation ``relates to a then-existing Federal 
program under which $500,000,000 or more is provided annually to State, 
local, and tribal governments under entitlement authority,'' if the 
provision would ``increase the stringency of conditions of assistance'' 
or ``place caps upon, or otherwise decrease, the Federal Government's 
responsibility to provide funding,'' and the State, local, or tribal 
governments ``lack authority'' to adjust accordingly. At the time of 
enactment, these entitlement programs were: Medicaid; Aid to Families 
with Dependent Children work programs; Child Nutrition; Food Stamps; 
Social Services Block Grants; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; 
Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Independent Living; Family 
Support Welfare Services; and Child Support Enforcement. ``Federal 
private sector mandate'' includes a regulation that ``would impose an 
enforceable duty upon the private sector, except (i) a condition of 
Federal assistance or (ii) a duty arising from participation in a 
voluntary Federal program.''
    The designation of critical habitat does not impose a legally 
binding duty on non-Federal Government entities or private parties. 
Under the Act, the only regulatory effect is that Federal agencies must 
ensure that their actions do not destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat under section 7. While non-Federal entities that receive 
Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require 
approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be 
indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally 
binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical 
habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. Furthermore, to the 
extent that non-Federal entities are indirectly impacted because they 
receive Federal assistance or participate in a voluntary Federal aid 
program, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act would not apply, nor would 
critical habitat shift the costs of the large entitlement programs 
listed above onto State governments.
    (2) We do not believe that this rule would significantly or 
uniquely affect small governments because this species occurs primarily 
in Federally-owned river channels or in remote privately owned stream 
channels. Also, this rule would not produce a Federal mandate of $100 
million or greater in any year, that is, it is not a ``significant 
regulatory action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The 
designation of critical habitat imposes no obligations on State or 
local governments and, as such, a Small Government Agency Plan is not 
required. We will, however, further evaluate this issue through the 
public review and comment period and revise this assessment if 
appropriate.

Takings--Executive Order 12630

    In accordance with E.O. 12630 (Government Actions and Interference 
with Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights), we have 
analyzed the potential takings implications of designating critical 
habitat for Kentucky arrow darter in a takings implications assessment. 
The Act does not authorize the Service to regulate private actions on 
private lands or confiscate private property as a result of critical 
habitat designation. Designation of critical habitat does not affect 
land ownership, or establish any closures, or restrictions on use of or 
access to the designated areas. Furthermore, the designation of 
critical habitat does not affect landowner actions that do not require 
Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat 
conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit 
actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. 
However, Federal agencies are prohibited from carrying out, funding, or 
authorizing actions that would destroy or adversely modify critical 
habitat. A takings implications assessment has been completed and 
concludes that this designation of critical habitat for Kentucky arrow 
darter does not pose significant takings implications for lands within 
or affected by the designation.

Federalism--Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with E.O. 13132 (Federalism), this proposed rule does 
not have significant Federalism effects. A federalism summary impact 
statement is not required. In keeping with Department of the Interior 
and Department of Commerce policy, we request information from, and 
coordinated development of this proposed critical habitat designation 
with, appropriate State resource agencies in Kentucky. From a 
federalism perspective, the designation of critical habitat directly 
affects only the responsibilities of Federal agencies. The Act imposes 
no other duties with respect to critical habitat, either for States and 
local governments, or for anyone else. As a result, the rule does not 
have substantial direct effects either on the States, or on the 
relationship between the national government and the States, or on the 
distribution of powers and responsibilities among the various levels of 
government. The designation may have some benefit to these governments 
because the areas

[[Page 61053]]

that contain the features essential to the conservation of the species 
are more clearly defined, and the physical or biological features of 
the habitat necessary to the conservation of the species are 
specifically identified. This information does not alter where and what 
federally sponsored activities may occur. However, it may assist these 
local governments in long-range planning (because these local 
governments no longer have to wait for case-by-case section 7 
consultations to occur).
    Where State and local governments require approval or authorization 
from a Federal agency for actions that may affect critical habitat, 
consultation under section 7(a)(2) would be required. While non-Federal 
entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that 
otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for 
an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical 
habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse 
modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with E.O. 12988 (Civil Justice Reform), the Office of 
the Solicitor has determined that the rule does not unduly burden the 
judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 
3(b)(2) of the Order. We have proposed designating critical habitat in 
accordance with the provisions of the Act. To assist the public in 
understanding the habitat needs of the species, the rule identifies the 
elements of physical or biological features essential to the 
conservation of the species. The designated areas of critical habitat 
are presented on maps, and the rule provides several options for the 
interested public to obtain more detailed location information, if 
desired.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This rule 
will not impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State or 
local governments, individuals, businesses, or organizations. An agency 
may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, 
a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB 
control number.

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

    It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court 
of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare 
environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act in connection with designating critical habitat under the Act. We 
published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the 
Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244). This position was 
upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Douglas 
County v. Babbitt, 48 F.3d 1495 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied 516 U.S. 
1042 (1996)).

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 are not proposing to designate critical habitat for the Kentucky 
arrow darter on tribal lands.

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (1) Be logically organized;
    (2) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (3) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (4) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (5) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

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 
Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this proposed rulemaking are the staff 
members of the Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

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

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

0
2. In Sec.  17.95, amend paragraph (e) by adding an entry for 
``Kentucky Arrow Darter (Etheostoma spilotum)'' in the same 
alphabetical order that the species appears in the table at Sec.  
17.11(h), to read as follows:


Sec.  17.95  Critical habitat--fish and wildlife.

* * * * *
    (e) Fishes.
* * * * *
Kentucky Arrow Darter (Etheostoma spilotum)
    (1) Critical habitat units are depicted on the maps below for 
Breathitt, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Owsley, Perry, 
and Wolfe Counties, Kentucky.
    (2) Within these areas, the primary constituent elements of the 
physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the 
Kentucky arrow darter consist of five components:
    (i) Riffle-pool complexes and transitional areas (glides and runs) 
of

[[Page 61054]]

geomorphically stable, first- to third-order streams with connectivity 
between spawning, foraging, and resting sites to promote gene flow 
throughout the species' range.
    (ii) Stable bottom substrates composed of gravel, cobble, boulders, 
bedrock ledges, and woody debris piles with low levels of siltation.
    (iii) An instream flow regime (magnitude, frequency, duration, and 
seasonality of discharge over time) sufficient to provide permanent 
surface flows, as measured during years with average rainfall, and to 
maintain benthic habitats utilized by the species.
    (iv) Adequate water quality characterized by moderate stream 
temperatures, acceptable dissolved oxygen concentrations, moderate pH, 
and low levels of pollutants. Adequate water quality is defined for the 
purpose of this entry as the quality necessary for normal behavior, 
growth, and viability of all life stages of the Kentucky arrow darter.
    (v) A prey base of aquatic macroinvertebrates, including mayfly 
nymphs, midge larvae, caddisfly larvae, stonefly nymphs, and small 
crayfishes.
    (3) Critical habitat does not include manmade structures (such as 
buildings, aqueducts, runways, roads, and other paved areas) and the 
land on which they are located existing within the legal boundaries on 
[INSERT EFFECTIVE DATE OF FINAL RULE].
    (4) Critical habitat map units. Data layers defining map units were 
created on a base of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Hydrography 
Dataset (NHD+) GIS data. The 1:100,000 river reach (route) files were 
used to calculate river kilometers and miles. ESRIs ArcGIS 10.0 
software was used to determine longitude and latitude coordinates using 
decimal degrees. The projection used in mapping all units was USA 
Contiguous Albers Equal Area Conic USGS version, NAD 83, meters. The 
following data sources were referenced to identify features (like roads 
and streams) used to delineate the upstream and downstream extents of 
critical habitat units: NHD+ flowline and waterbody data, 2011 Navteq 
roads data, USA Topo ESRI online basemap service, DeLorme Atlas and 
Gazetteers, and USGS 7.5 minute topographic maps. The maps in this 
entry, as modified by any accompanying regulatory text, establish the 
boundaries of the critical habitat designation. The coordinates, plot 
points, or both on which each map is based are available to the public 
at the Service's Internet site, (http://fws.gov/frankfort/), at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2015-0133, and at the field 
office responsible for this designation. You may obtain field office 
location information by contacting one of the Service regional offices, 
the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2.

[[Page 61055]]

    (5) Note: Index map follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.005
    
    (6) Unit 1: Buckhorn Creek and Prince Fork, and Unit 2: Eli Fork, 
Knott County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 1 includes 0.7 skm (0.4 smi) of Prince Fork from Mart 
Branch (37.41291, -83.07000) downstream to its confluence with Buckhorn 
Creek (37.41825, -83.07341), and 0.4 skm (0.3 smi) of Buckhorn Creek 
from its headwaters at (37.41825, -83.07341) downstream to its 
confluence with Emory Branch (37.42006, -83.07738) in Knott County, 
Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 2 includes 1.0 skm (0.6 smi) of Eli Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.44078, -83.05884), downstream to its confluence with 
Boughcamp Branch (37.43259, -83.05591) in Knott County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61056]]

    (iii) Map of Units 1 and 2 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.006
    
    (7) Unit 3: Coles Fork and Snag Ridge Fork, Breathitt and Knott 
Counties, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 3 includes 2.1 skm (1.3 smi) of Snag Ridge Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.47746, -83.11139), downstream to its confluence with 
Coles Fork (37.46391, -83.13468) in Knott County; and 8.9 skm (5.5 smi) 
of Coles Fork from its headwaters at (37.45096, -83.07124), downstream 
to its confluence with Buckhorn Creek (37.45720, -83.13468) in Knott 
County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61057]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 3 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.007
    
    (8) Unit 4: Clemons Fork, Breathitt County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 4 includes 7.0 skm (4.4 smi) of Clemons Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.49772, -83.13390), downstream to its confluence with 
Buckhorn Creek (37.45511, -83.16582) in Breathitt County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61058]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 4 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.008
    
    (9) Unit 5: Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek and Tributaries, Knott 
County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 5 includes 1.2 skm (0.8 smi) of Fitch Branch from its 
headwaters at (37.46745, -82.95373), downstream to its confluence with 
Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek (37.45855, -82.96089); 2.7 skm (1.7 smi) of 
Newman Branch from its headwaters at (37.44120, -82.95810), downstream 
to its confluence with Laurel Fork Quicksand Creek (37.45893, -
82.97417); 2.1 skm (1.3 smi) of Combs Branch from its headwaters at 
(37.43848, -82.97731), downstream to its confluence with Laurel Fork 
Quicksand Creek (37.44758, -82.99476); and 13.8 skm (8.6 smi) of Laurel 
Fork Quicksand Creek from its headwaters at (37.43001, -82.93016), 
downstream to its confluence with Quicksand Creek (37.45100, -83.02303) 
in Knott County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61059]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 5 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.009
    
    (10) Unit 6: Middle Fork Quicksand Creek and Tributaries, Knott 
County, and Unit 7: Spring Fork Quicksand Creek, Breathitt County, 
Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 6 includes 0.8 skm (0.5 smi) of Big Firecoal Branch from 
its headwaters at (37.49363, -82.96426), downstream to its confluence 
with Middle Fork Quicksand Creek (37.48990, -82.97148); 2.1 skm (1.3 
smi) of Bradley Branch from its headwaters at (37.47180, -82.99819), 
downstream to its confluence with Middle Fork Quicksand Creek 
(37.47899, -83.01823); 2.0 skm (1.2 smi) of Lynn Log Branch from its 
headwaters at (37.50190, -83.01921), downstream to its confluence with 
Middle Fork Quicksand Creek (37.49286. -83.03524); and 17.6 skm (10.9 
smi) of Middle Fork Quicksand Creek from its headwaters at (37.48562, -
82.93667), downstream to its confluence with Quicksand Creek

[[Page 61060]]

(37.504451, -83.07150) in Knott County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 7 includes 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Spring Fork Quicksand 
Creek from its headwaters at (37.50746, -82.96647), downstream to its 
confluence with Laurel Fork (37.51597, -82.98436) in Breathitt County, 
Kentucky.
    (iii) Map of Units 6 and 7 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.010
    
    (11) Unit 8: Hunting Creek and Tributaries, Breathitt County, 
Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 8 includes 0.9 skm (0.5 smi) of Wolf Pen Branch from its 
headwaters at (37.64580, -83.23885), downstream to its confluence with 
Hunting Creek (37.64023, -83.24424); 1.6 skm (1.0 smi) of Negro Fork 
from its headwaters at (37.62992, -83.25760), downstream to its 
confluence with Hunting Creek (37.62121, -83.24433); 2.3 skm (1.4 smi) 
of Fletcher Fork from its headwaters at (37.61315, -83.26521), 
downstream to its confluence with Hunting Creek (37.61956, -83.24370); 
3.1 skm (1.9 smi) of Licking Fork from its headwaters at (37.63553, -
83.21754, -83.21754), downstream to its

[[Page 61061]]

confluence with Hunting Creek (37.61794, -83.23938); and 7.7 skm (4.8 
smi) of Hunting Creek from its confluence with Wells Fork (37.64629, -
83.24708), downstream to its confluence with Quicksand Creek (37.59235, 
-83.22803) in Breathitt County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Map of Unit 8 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.011
    
    (12) Unit 9: Frozen Creek and Tributaries, Breathitt County, 
Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 9 includes 4.7 skm (2.9 smi) of Clear Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.63899, -83.27706), downstream to its confluence with 
Frozen Creek (37.64109, -83.31969); 3.6 skm (2.3 smi) of Negro Branch 
from its headwaters at (37.67146, -83.31971), downstream to its 
confluence with Frozen Creek (37.64319, -83.33068); 4.2 skm (2.6 smi) 
of Davis Creek from its headwaters at (37.66644, -83.34599), downstream 
to its confluence with Frozen Creek (37.63402, -83.34953); and 13.9 skm 
(8.6 smi) of Frozen Creek from its headwaters at (37.66115, -83.26945), 
downstream to its confluence with Morgue Fork (37.62761, -83.37622) in 
Breathitt County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61062]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 9 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.012
    
    (13) Unit 10: Holly Creek and Tributaries, Wolfe County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 10 includes 2.8 skm (1.8 smi) of Spring Branch from its 
headwaters at (37.67110, -83.44406), downstream to its confluence with 
Holly Creek (37.66384, -83.46780) in Wolfe County; 2.0 skm (1.3 smi) of 
Pence Branch from its headwaters at (37.64048, -83.45703), downstream 
to its confluence with Holly Creek (37.63413, -83.47608) in Wolfe 
County; 4.0 skm (2.5 mi) of Cave Branch from its headwaters at 
(37.66023, -83.49916), downstream to its confluence with Holly Creek 
(37.63149, -83.48725) in Wolfe County; 9.5 skm (5.9 smi) of Holly Creek 
from KY 1261 (37.67758, -83.46792) in Wolfe County, downstream to its 
confluence with the North Fork Kentucky River (37.62289, -83.49948) in 
Wolfe County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61063]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 10 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.013
    
    (14) Unit 11: Little Fork, Lee and Wolfe Counties; Unit 12: Walker 
Creek and Tributaries, Lee and Wolfe Counties; and Unit 13: Hell Creek 
and Tributaries, Lee County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 11 includes 3.8 skm (2.3 smi) of Little Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.68456, -83.62465) in Wolfe County, downstream to its 
confluence with Lower Devil Creek (37.66148, -83.59961) in Lee County, 
Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 12 includes 3.9 skm (2.4 smi) of an unnamed tributary of 
Walker Creek from its headwaters at (37.71373, -83.64553) in Wolfe 
County, downstream to its confluence with Walker Creek (37.68567, -
83.65045) in Lee County; 2.4 skm (1.5 smi) of Cowan Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.69624, -83.66366) in Wolfe County, downstream to its 
confluence with Hell for Certain Creek (37.67718, -83.65931) in Lee 
County; 2.0 skm (1.2 smi) of Hell for Certain Creek from an unnamed 
reservoir at (37.68377, -83.66804), downstream to its confluence with 
Walker Creek (37.67340, -83.65449) in

[[Page 61064]]

Lee County; 0.8 skm (0.5 smi) of Boonesboro Fork from its headwaters at 
(37.66706, -83.66053), downstream to its confluence with Walker Creek 
(37.66377, -83.65408) in Lee County; 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Peddler Creek 
from its headwaters at (37.67054, -83.63456), downstream to its 
confluence with Walker Creek (37.65696, -83.64879) in Lee County; 1.1 
skm (0.7 smi) of Huff Cave Branch from its headwaters at (37.65664, -
83.66033), downstream to its confluence with Walker Creek (37.65138, -
83.65034) in Lee County; and 12.6 skm (7.8 smi) of Walker Creek from an 
unnamed reservoir (37.70502, -83.65490) in Wolfe County, downstream to 
its confluence with North Fork Kentucky River (37.60678, -83.64652) in 
Lee County, Kentucky.
    (iii) Unit 13 includes 2.3 skm (1.4 smi) of Miller Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.66074, -83.68005), downstream to its confluence with 
Hell Creek (37.64261, -83.67912); 0.7 skm (0.4 smi) of Bowman Fork from 
its headwaters at (37.64142, -83.68594), downstream to its confluence 
with Hell Creek (37.64070, -83.67848); 1.9 skm (1.2 smi) of an unnamed 
tributary of Hell Creek from its headwaters at (37.63199, -
83.83.68064), downstream to its confluence with Hell Creek (37.62516, -
83.66246); and 7.1 skm (4.4 smi) of Hell Creek from an unnamed 
reservoir (37.64941, -83.68907), downstream to its confluence with 
North Fork Kentucky River (37.60480. -83.65440) in Lee County, 
Kentucky.
    (iv) Map of Units 11, 12, and 13 follows:

[[Page 61065]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.014

    (15) Unit 14: Big Laurel Creek, Harlan County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 14 includes 9.1 skm (5.7 smi) of Big Laurel Creek from its 
confluence with Combs Fork (36.99520, -83.14086), downstream to its 
confluence with Greasy Creek (36.97893, -83.21907) in Harlan County, 
Kentucky.

[[Page 61066]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 14 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.015
    
    (16) Unit 15: Laurel Creek, Leslie County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 15 includes 4.1 skm (2.6 smi) of Laurel Creek from its 
confluence with Sandlick Branch (37.10825, -83.45036), downstream to 
its confluence with Left Fork Rockhouse Creek (37.13085, -83.43699) in 
Leslie County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61067]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 15 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.016
    
    (17) Unit 16: Hell For Certain Creek and Tributaries, Leslie 
County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 16 includes 1.3 skm (0.8 smi) of Cucumber Branch from its 
headwaters at (37.20839, -83.44644), downstream to its confluence with 
Hell For Certain Creek (37.21929, -83.44355); 3.1 skm (1.9 smi) of Big 
Fork from its headwaters at (37.20930, -83.42356), downstream to its 
confluence with Hell For Certain Creek (37.23082, -83.40720); and 11.4 
skm (7.1 smi) of Hell For Certain Creek from its headwaters at 
(37.20904, -83.47489), downstream to its confluence with the Middle 
Fork Kentucky River (37.24611, -83.38192) in Leslie County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61068]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 16 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.017
    
    (18) Unit 17: Squabble Creek, Perry County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 17 includes 12.0 skm (7.5 smi) of Squabble Creek from its 
confluence with Long Fork (37.29162, -83.54202), downstream to its 
confluence with the Middle Fork Kentucky River (37.34597, -83.46883) in 
Perry County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61069]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 17 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.018
    
    (19) Unit 18: Blue Hole Creek and Left Fork Blue Hole Creek, Unit 
19: Upper Bear Creek and Tributaries, Unit 20: Katies Creek, and Unit 
21: Spring Creek and Little Spring Creek, Clay County; and Unit 22: 
Bowen Creek and Tributaries, Leslie County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 18 includes 1.8 skm (1.1 smi) of Left Fork from its 
headwaters at (36.97278, -83.56898), downstream to its confluence with 
Blue Hole Creek (36.98297, -83.55687); and 3.9 skm (2.4 smi) of Blue 
Hole Creek from its headwaters at (36.98254, -83.57376), downstream to 
its confluence with the Red Bird River (36.99288, -83.53672) in Clay 
County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 19 includes 1.5 skm (1.0 smi) of Left Fork Upper Bear 
Creek from its headwaters at (36.99519, -83.58446), downstream to its 
confluence with Upper Bear Creek (37.00448, -83.57354); 0.8 skm (0.5 
smi) of Right

[[Page 61070]]

Fork Upper Bear Creek from its headwaters at (37.00858, -83.58013), 
downstream to its confluence with Upper Bear Creek (37.00448, -
83.57354); and 4.5 skm (2.8 smi) of Upper Bear Creek from its 
confluence with Left Fork and Right Fork Upper Bear Creek (37.02109, -
83.53423), downstream to its confluence with the Red Bird River 
(37.00448, -83.57354) in Clay County, Kentucky.
    (iii) Unit 20 includes 5.7 skm (3.5 smi) of Katies Creek from its 
confluence with Cave Branch (37.01837, -83.58848), downstream to its 
confluence with the Red Bird River (37.03527, -83.53999) in Clay 
County, Kentucky.
    (iv) Unit 21 includes 1.0 skm (0.6 smi) of Little Spring Creek from 
its headwaters at (37.05452, -83.57483), downstream to its confluence 
with Spring Creek (37.05555, -83.56339); and 8.2 skm (5.1 smi) of 
Spring Creek from its headwaters at (37.02874, -83.59815), downstream 
to its confluence with the Red Bird River (37.06189, -83.54134) in Clay 
County, Kentucky.
    (v) Unit 22 includes 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Laurel Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.05536, -83.47452), downstream to its confluence with 
Bowen Creek (37.04702, -83.49641); 1.8 skm (1.1 smi) of Amy Branch from 
its headwaters at (37.05979, -83.50083), downstream to its confluence 
with Bowen Creek (37.05031, -83.51498); and 9.6 skm (6.0 smi) of Bowen 
Creek from its headwaters at (37.03183, -83.46124), downstream to its 
confluence with the Red Bird River (37.06777, -83.53840) in Leslie 
County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61071]]

    (vi) Map of Units 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.019
    
    (20) Unit 23: Elisha Creek and Tributaries, Leslie County; and Unit 
24: Gilberts Big Creek, and Unit 25: Sugar Creek, Clay and Leslie 
Counties, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 23 includes 4.4 skm (2.7 smi) of Right Fork Elisha Creek 
from its headwaters at (37.07255, -83.47839), downstream to its 
confluence with Elisha Creek (37.08165, -83.51802); 2.3 skm (1.4 smi) 
of Left Fork Elisha Creek

[[Page 61072]]

from its headwaters at (37.09632, -83.51108), downstream to its 
confluence with Elisha Creek (37.08528, -83.52645); and 2.9 skm (1.8 
smi) of Elisha Creek from its confluence with Right Fork Elisha Creek 
(37.08165, -83.51802), downstream to its confluence with the Red Bird 
River (37.08794, -83.54676) in Leslie County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 24 includes 7.2 skm (4.5 smi) of Gilberts Big Creek from 
its headwaters at (37.10825, -83.49164) in Leslie County, downstream to 
its confluence with the Red Bird River (37.10784, -83.55590) in Clay 
County, Kentucky.
    (iii) Unit 25 includes 7.2 skm (4.5 smi) of Sugar Creek from its 
headwaters at (37.12446, -83.49420) in Leslie County, downstream to its 
confluence with the Red Bird River (37.11804, -83.55952) in Clay 
County, Kentucky.
    (iv) Map of Units 23, 24, and 25 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.020
    

[[Page 61073]]


    (21) Unit 26: Big Double Creek and Tributaries, and Unit 27: Little 
Double Creek, Clay County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 26 includes 1.4 skm (0.9 smi) of Left Fork Big Double 
Creek from its headwaters at (37.07967, -83.60719), downstream to its 
confluence with Big Double Creek (37.09053, -83.60245); 1.8 skm (1.1 
smi) of Right Fork Big Double Creek from its headwaters at (37.09021, -
83.62010), downstream to its confluence with Big Double Creek 
(37.09053, -83.60245); and 7.1 skm (4.4 smi) of Big Double Creek from 
its confluence with the Left and Right Forks (37.09053, -83.60245), 
downstream to its confluence with the Red Bird River (37.14045, -
83.58768) in Clay County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 27 includes 3.4 skm (2.1 smi) of Little Double Creek from 
its headwaters at (37.11816, -83.61251), downstream to its confluence 
with the Red Bird River (37.14025, -83.59197) in Clay County, Kentucky.
    (iii) Map of Units 26 and 27 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.021
    

[[Page 61074]]


    (22) Unit 28: Jacks Creek, and Unit 29: Long Fork, Clay County, 
Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 28 includes 5.9 skm (3.7 smi) of Jacks Creek from its 
headwaters at (37.21472, -83.54108), downstream to its confluence with 
the Red Bird River (37.19113, -83.59185) in Clay County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 29 includes 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Long Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.16889, -83.65490), downstream to its confluence with 
Hector Branch (37.17752, -83.63464) in Clay County, Kentucky.
    (iii) Map of Units 28 and 29 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.022
    
    (23) Unit 30: Horse Creek, Clay County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 30 includes 5.0 skm (3.1 smi) of Horse Creek from its 
headwaters at (37.07370, -83.87756), downstream to its confluence with 
Pigeon Roost Branch (37.09926, -83.84582) in Clay County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61075]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 30 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.023
    
    (24) Unit 31: Bullskin Creek, Clay and Leslie Counties, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 31 includes 21.7 skm (13.5 smi) of Bullskin Creek from its 
confluence with Old House Branch (37.21218, -83.48798) in Leslie 
County, downstream to its confluence with the South Fork Kentucky River 
(37.27322, -83.64441) in Clay County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61076]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 31 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.024
    
    (25) Unit 32: Buffalo Creek and Tributaries, Owsley County, 
Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 32 includes 2.0 skm (1.2 smi) of Cortland Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.35052, -83.54570), downstream to its confluence with 
Laurel Fork (37.34758, -83.56466); 6.4 skm (4.0 smi) of Laurel Fork 
from its headwaters at (37.32708, -83.56450), downstream to its 
confluence with Left Fork Buffalo Creek (37.347758, -83.56466); 4.6 skm 
(2.9 smi) of Lucky Fork from its headwaters at (37.37682, -83.55711), 
downstream to its confluence with Left Fork Buffalo Creek (37.35713, -
83.59367); 5.1 skm (3.2 smi) of Left Fork Buffalo Creek from its 
confluence with Lucky Fork and Left Fork (37.35713, -83.59367), 
downstream to its confluence with Buffalo Creek (37.35197, -83.63583); 
17.3 skm (10.8 smi) of Right Fork Buffalo Creek from its headwaters at 
(37.26972, -83.53646), downstream to its confluence with Buffalo Creek 
(37.35197, -83.63583); and 2.7 skm (1.7 smi) of Buffalo Creek from its 
confluence with the Left and

[[Page 61077]]

Right Forks (37.35197, -83.63583), downstream to its confluence with 
the South Fork Kentucky River (37.35051, -83.65233) in Owsley County, 
Kentucky.
    (ii) Map of Unit 32 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.025
    
    (26) Unit 33: Lower Buffalo Creek, Lee and Owsley Counties, 
Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 33 includes 2.2 skm (1.4 smi) of Straight Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.49993, -83.62996), downstream to its confluence with 
Lower Buffalo Creek (37.50980, -83.65015) in Owsley County; and 5.1 skm 
(3.2 smi) of Lower Buffalo Creek from its confluence with Straight Fork 
(37.50980, -83.65015) in Owsley County, downstream to its confluence 
with the South Fork Kentucky River (37.53164, -83.68732) in Lee County, 
Kentucky.

[[Page 61078]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 33 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.026
    
    (27) Unit 34: Silver Creek, Lee County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 34 includes 6.2 skm (3.9 smi) of Silver Creek from its 
headwaters at (37.61857, -83.72442), downstream to its confluence with 
the Kentucky River (37.57251, -83.71264) in Lee County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61079]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 34 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.027
    
    (28) Unit 35: Travis Creek, Jackson County; Unit 36: Wild Dog 
Creek, Jackson and Owsley Counties; and Unit 37: Granny Dismal Creek, 
Owsley and Lee Counties, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 35 includes 4.1 skm (2.5 smi) of Travis Creek from its 
headwaters at (37.43039, -83.88516), downstream to its confluence with 
Sturgeon Creek (37.43600, -83.84609) in Jackson County, Kentucky.
    (ii) Unit 36 includes 8.1 skm (5.1 smi) of Wild Dog Creek from its 
headwaters at (37.47081, -83.89329) in Jackson County, downstream to 
its confluence with Sturgeon Creek (37.48730, -83.82319) in Owsley 
County, Kentucky.
    (iii) Unit 37 includes 6.9 skm (4.3 smi) of Granny Dismal Creek 
from its headwaters at (37.49862, -83.88435) in Owsley County, 
downstream to its confluence with Sturgeon Creek (37.49586, -83.81629) 
in Lee County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61080]]

    (iv) Map of Units 35, 36, and 37 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.028
    
    (29) Unit 38: Rockbridge Fork, Wolfe County, Kentucky.
    (i) Unit 38 includes 4.5 skm (2.8 smi) of Rockbridge Fork from its 
headwaters at (37.76228, -83.59553), downstream to its confluence with 
Swift Camp Creek (37.76941, -83.56134) in Wolfe County, Kentucky.

[[Page 61081]]

    (ii) Map of Unit 38 follows:
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP08OC15.029
    
* * * * *

    Dated: September 22, 2015.
Karen Hyun,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
Parks.
[FR Doc. 2015-25290 Filed 10-7-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P