Saturday, 29 March 2014

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To Downlist the Arroyo Toad (Anaxyrus californicus), and a Proposed Rule To Reclassify the Arroyo Toad as Threatened by USF&WS - via Herp Digest

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0007; FXES11130900000-145-FF09E42000]
RIN 1018-AY82

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule and 12-month petition finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 12-month finding on a petition to reclassify the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973,as amended (Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that reclassifying the arroyo toad as threatened is warranted, and, therefore, we propose to reclassify the arroyo toad as threatened under the Act. We are seeking information and 
comments from the public regarding this proposed rule.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 27, 2014. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by May12, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: In the Search box, enter FWS-R8-ES-2014-0007, 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-R8-ES-2014-0007; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Information Requested section below for more information).
    Document availability: A copy of the Species Report referenced throughout this document can be viewed at, at under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0007, or at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office's Web site at ventura/.

Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone 805-644-1766; facsimile 805-644-3958. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.


Executive Summary

    Purpose of Regulatory Action. In December 2011, we received a petition to reclassify the arroyo toad from endangered to threatened,based on analysis and recommendations contained in our August 2009 5-year status review of the species. On June 4, 2012, we published a 90-day finding that the petition presented substantial information indicating that reclassifying the arroyo toad may be warranted (77 FR 32922) and initiated a status review. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that the petitioned action is warranted and propose to reclassify the arroyo toad from an endangered species to a threatened species on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. This document constitutes our 12-month finding in response to the petition to reclassify the arroyo 
toad from endangered to threatened.
    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a species is an endangered species or threatened species because of any of five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B)overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. We must consider whether or not the species is an endangered species or threatened species because of the 
same factors when we consider reclassifying or delisting a species.
    We have determined that there are still significant threats 
impacting the arroyo toad currently and into the future, particularly operation of dams and water diversions (Factors A and E); urban development (Factors A and E); introduced predator species (Factors A and C); and drought (Factors A and E). However, despite the existence of these ongoing threats, we conclude that the overall magnitude ofthreats impacting the arroyo toad has decreased since the time of listing, due in part to implementation of conservation and management actions. Furthermore, we find that the intent of the recovery criteria 
for downlisting of the arroyo toad has been met, and that the arroyo toad now fits the definition of a threatened rather than an endangered species.

Information Requested

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available, and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific community, industry, or other interested parties concerning 
this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Reasons why we should or should not reclassify the arroyo toad under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
    (2) New biological or other relevant data concerning any threat (or lack thereof) to this species.
    (3) New information concerning the distribution and population size or trends of this species.
    (4) New information on the current or planned activities within the range of the arroyo toad that may adversely affect or benefit the species.
    (5) New information and data on the projected and reasonably likely impacts to the arroyo toad or its habitat associated with climate change.
    (6) New information on threats or impacts to the arroyo toad in the Mexico portion of its range.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Please note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.''
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We requestthat you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit information via, yourentire submission--including any personal identifying information--will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Public Hearings

    Section 4(b)(5) of the Act provides for one or more public hearings on this proposal, if requested. We must receive your request within 45 days after the date of this Federal Register publication. Send your request to the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. 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.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (50 FR 34270), we will seek the expert opinions of at least three appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. A thorough review of information that we relied on in preparing this proposed rule--including information on taxonomy, life history, ecology, population distribution and abundance, and potential threats--is presented in the arroyo toad Species Report 
(Service 2013) available at (Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2014-0007). The purpose of peer review is to ensure that decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. The peer reviewers will conduct assessments of the proposed rule, and the specific assumptions and conclusions regarding theproposed downlisting. These assessments will be completed during the public comment period.
    We will consider all comments and information we receive during the comment period on this proposed rule as we prepare the final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal.

Previous Federal Action

    We proposed to list the arroyo toad as an endangered species under 
the Act on August 3, 1993 (58 FR 41231), based primarily on threats 
from urban development, agricultural conversion, construction of new 
dams, roads and road maintenance, recreational activities, introduced 
predator species, and drought. We published a final rule listing the 
arroyo toad as an endangered species on December 16, 1994 (59 FR 
64859). We published a recovery plan for the arroyo toad in 1999 
(Service 1999). Critical habitat was designated in 2001 (66 FR 9414, 
February 7, 2001) and revised in 2005 (70 FR 19562, April 13, 2005) and 
2011 (76 FR 7246, February 9, 2011).
    Under the Act, we maintain the Lists of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for 
plants) (Lists). We amend the Lists by publishing final rules in the 
Federal Register. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we 
conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years. Section 
4(c)(2)(B) requires that we determine: (1) Whether a

[[Page 17108]]

species no longer meets the definition of endangered or threatened and should be removed from the Lists (delisted), (2) whether a species listed as endangered more properly meets the definition of threatened and should be reclassified to threatened (downlisted), or (3) whether a species listed as threatened more properly meets the definition of endangered and should be reclassified to endangered (uplisted). In accordance with 50 CFR 424.11(d), using the best scientific and commercial data available, we will consider a species for delisting 
only if the data substantiate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) The species is considered extinct; (2) the species is considered recovered;or (3) the original data available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error.
    We published a notice announcing active review and requested public comments concerning the status of the arroyo toad under section 4(c)(2)of the Act on March 5, 2008 (73 FR 11945). We notified the public of completion of the 5-year review on May 21, 2010 (75 FR 28636). The 5-year review, completed on August 17, 2009 (Service 2009), resulted in a recommendation to change the status of the species from endangered to threatened. A copy of the 2009 5-year review for the arroyo toad is available on the Service's Environmental Conservation Online System (


References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this proposed rule is available on the Internet at under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2014-0007 or upon request from the Field Supervisor,Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section).


    The primary author of this proposed rule is the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento, California, in coordination with the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office in Ventura, California (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

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