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Designation of 143,218 acres Critical Habitat for the Bull Trout
September 26, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 185)]
[Rules and Regulations]
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Bull Trout
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), designate
critical habitat for the Klamath River, Columbia River, Jarbidge River,
Coastal-Puget Sound, and Saint Mary-Belly River populations of bull
trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in the coterminous United States
pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This
final designation totals approximately 3,828 miles (mi) (6,161
kilometers (km) of streams, 143,218 acres (ac) (57,958 hectares (ha) of
lakes in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, and 985 mi (1,585 km)
of shoreline paralleling marine habitat in Washington. We solicited
data and comments from the public on all aspects of the proposed rules,
including data on economic and other impacts of the designations.
DATES: This rule becomes effective October 26, 2005.
ADDRESSES: Comments received, as well as supporting documentation used
in the preparation of this final rule, will be available for public
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of Endangered Species, 911 N.E. 11th
Avenue, Portland, OR 97232. The final rule, economic analyses, and maps
are also available via the Internet at http://pacific.fws.gov/bulltrout/.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Branch of Endangered Species (see
ADDRESSES section), telephone, facsimile 503/231-6237.
During the comment period that opened on June 25, 2004, and closed
on August 24, 2004, we received 34 comment letters directly addressing
the proposed critical habitat designation: 8 from peer reviewers, 5
from Federal agencies, 3 from State agencies, 2 from County or city
agencies, 6 from tribes, and 10 from organizations or individuals.
During the reopened comment period (May 3, 2005 through June 2,
2005) (70 FR 228350), we received 16 comment letters directly
addressing the proposed critical habitat designation and DEA, 7 of
which were from organizations or individuals that submitted comments
during the first comment period. Of the 16 letters, we received 1 from
a peer reviewer, 2 from Federal agencies, 3 from State agencies, 3 from
county or city agencies, 1 from a tribe, and 6 from organizations or
Klamath River and Columbia River Bull Trout Populations
Responses to public and peer review comments on proposed critical
habitat for the Klamath River and Columbia River bull trout populations
(67 FR 71235, November 29, 2002) and the DEA (69 FR 17634, April 5,
2004) were published in the final designation of critical habitat (69
FR 59995, October 6, 2004). The following summary responds only to
those comments received during the reopened comment period period (May
3, 2005 through June 2, 2005) on the proposed and final rules for
critical habitat designation for the Klamath River and Columbia River
bull trout populations (70 FR 32732).
During the reopened comment period, we received 33 letters
addressing the final critical habitat designation and economic analysis
(EA). Of these letters, we received 7 from Federal agencies, 4 from
State agencies, 10 from local entities, 1 from a tribe, and 11 from
organizations or individuals.
All comments of a similar nature were grouped together for all
populations of bull trout and are addressed in the following summary.
Substantive comments have been incorporated into the final rule as
In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994
(59 FR 34270), we solicit opinions from individuals who have expertise
with the species and the geographic region where the species occurs and
are familiar with conservation biology principles. The peer review
process for the Klamath and Columbia River bull trout populations was
discussed in the October 6, 2004, final critical habitat designation
for the Klamath River and Columbia River bull trout populations (69 FR
For the proposed critical habitat designation for Jarbidge River,
Coastal-Puget Sound, and Saint Mary-Belly River bull trout populations,
we solicited independent expert review from eight individuals and all
responded. The peer reviewers generally concurred with our methods, but
also provided additional information, clarifications, and suggestions
to improve the final critical habitat rule. Key elements of the
reviewers' critical comments related to the proposal's scope and
whether existing laws and regulations already protect some areas.
Comments also addressed the need for greater prioritization of
conservation issues influencing critical habitat designation, emphasis
on quality habitat to support the migratory life form of bull trout,
and an explanation of why some particular habitat, including areas of
degraded habitat, are important to bull trout conservation.
Additionally, the reviewers provided many technical comments on the
appropriateness and bounds of specific geographic areas proposed as
critical habitat. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the following
summary and incorporated into the final rule as appropriate.
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