[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 12 (Friday, January 19, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 2493-2495]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-810]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[I.D. 111506A]


Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans

AGENCY:  National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.

ACTION:  Notice of Availability.

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

SUMMARY:  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the 
adoption of its Endangered Species Act (ESA) Recovery Plan (Recovery 
Plan) for the Puget Sound Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) 
Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU). The Recovery Plan consists of 
two documents: the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan prepared by the 
Shared Strategy for Puget Sound (the Shared Strategy Plan), and NMFS' 
Final Supplement to the Shared Strategy Plan (Supplement). The Final 
Supplement contains revisions and additions in consideration of public 
comments on the Shared Strategy Plan and the draft NMFS Supplement.

ADDRESSES:  Additional information about the Recovery Plan may be 
obtained by writing to Elizabeth Babcock, National Marine Fisheries 
Service, 7600 Sandpoint Way N.E., Seattle, WA 98115, or calling (206) 
526-4505.
    Persons wishing to read the Recovery Plan can obtain an electronic 
copy (i.e., CD-ROM) from Carol Joyce by calling (503) 230-5408 or by e-
mailing a request to [email protected], with the subject line ``CD-
ROM Request for Final ESA Recovery Plan for Puget Sound Chinook 
Salmon.'' NMFS' summary of and response to public comments on the 
Shared Strategy Plan and draft Supplement will be included on the CD-
ROM. Electronic copies of these documents are also available on-line on 
the NMFS website, http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Salmon-Recovery-Planning/Recovery-Domains/Puget-Sound/Index.cfm, or the Shared Strategy for 
Puget Sound website, http://www.sharedsalmonstrategy.org

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Elizabeth Babcock, Puget Sound Salmon 
Recovery Coordinator at (206) 526-4505, or Elizabeth Gaar, NMFS Salmon 
Recovery Division at (503) 230-5434.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Recovery plans describe actions beneficial to the conservation and 
recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The ESA requires that 
recovery plans, to the extent practicable, incorporate (1) Objective, 
measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination 
that the species is no longer threatened or endangered; (2) site-
specific management actions that may be necessary to achieve the plan's 
goals; and (3) estimates of the time required and costs to implement 
recovery actions. The ESA requires the development of recovery plans 
for listed species unless such a plan would not promote the recovery of 
a particular species.
    NMFS' goal is to restore endangered and threatened Pacific salmon 
ESUs and steelhead distinct population segments (DPSs) to the point 
that they are again self-sustaining members of their ecosystems and no 
longer need the protections of the ESA. NMFS believes it is critically 
important to base its recovery plans on the many state, regional, 
tribal, local, and private conservation efforts already underway 
throughout the region. Therefore, the agency supports and participates 
in locally led collaborative efforts to develop recovery plans, 
involving local communities, state, tribal, and Federal entities, and 
other stakeholders. As the lead ESA agency for listed salmon, NMFS is 
responsible for reviewing these locally produced recovery plans and 
deciding whether they meet ESA statutory requirements and merit 
adoption as ESA recovery plans.
    On June 30, 2005, the Shared Strategy for Puget Sound (Shared 
Strategy) presented its locally developed listed species recovery plan 
to NMFS. The Shared Strategy is a collaborative initiative that began 
in 1999 after NMFS listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon as threatened. The 
Shared Strategy includes representatives of tribal, Federal, state, and 
local governments,

[[Page 2494]]

business, the agriculture and forestry industries, conservation and 
environmental groups, and local watershed planning groups. After 
reviewing the Shared Strategy Plan, NMFS prepared a Draft Supplement, 
clarifying how the Shared Strategy Plan satisfies ESA recovery plan 
requirements and addressing additional elements needed to comply with 
those requirements. The Shared Strategy Plan and Draft Supplement were 
offered for public comment on December 27, 2005, and a Notice of 
Availability was published in the Federal Register (70 FR 76445) on the 
same date.
    NMFS received 98 comment letters by mail, fax, or e-mail on the 
Shared Strategy Plan and draft Supplement. Public hearings were held 
between February 7 and February 21 in Sequim, Lacey, Seattle, and 
Anacortes, Washington. NMFS summarized the public comments and oral 
testimony and prepared responses, now available on the NMFS website at 
http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Salmon-Recovery-Planning/Recovery-Domains/Puget-Sound/PS-Chinook-Plan.cfm. NMFS revised its Supplement based on 
the comments received.
    Consistent with adoption of this Final Supplement, NMFS will seek 
to implement the actions in the Recovery Plan for which it has 
authority, to work cooperatively on implementation of other actions, 
and to encourage other Federal agencies to implement Recovery Plan 
actions for which they have responsibility and authority. NMFS will 
also encourage the State of Washington to seek similar implementation 
commitments from state agencies and local governments. NMFS expects the 
Recovery Plan to help NMFS and other Federal agencies take a more 
consistent approach to future ESA section 7 consultations under the ESA 
and other ESA decisions. For example, the Recovery Plan will provide 
greater biological context for the effects that a proposed action may 
have on the listed ESU. This context will be enhanced by adding 
Recovery Plan science to the ``best available information'' for section 
7 consultations, section 10 habitat conservation plans, and other ESA 
decisions. Such information includes viability criteria for the ESU and 
its independent populations; better understanding of and information on 
limiting factors and threats facing the ESU; better information on 
priority areas for addressing specific limiting factors; and better 
geographic context for where the ESU can tolerate varying levels of 
risk.

The Recovery Plan

    The Shared Strategy Plan is one of many ongoing salmon recovery 
planning efforts funded under the Washington State Strategy for Salmon 
Recovery. The State of Washington designated the Shared Strategy as the 
Recovery Board for salmon recovery planning for the Puget Sound. The 
Shared Strategy Plan incorporates many aspects of the work of the Puget 
Sound Technical Recovery Team (PSTRT) appointed by NMFS. The PSTRT 
provided independent scientific peer review of the Shared Strategy 
Plan. The Shared Strategy has included public involvement throughout 
its recovery planning process, having received extensive comments 
during the public comment period in early 2006.

ESU Addressed and Planning Area

    The Recovery Plan is intended for implementation within the range 
of the Puget Sound Chinook Salmon ESU, listed as threatened on March 
24, 1999 (64 FR 14307), and reaffirmed on June 28, 2005 (70 FR 37160). 
The Puget Sound Chinook salmon ESU contains 22 independent populations 
identified by the PSTRT. The most recent status review of Puget Sound 
Chinook under the Shared Strategy Plan indicates that the long-term 
productivity trend for naturally spawning populations is declining. In 
general, abundance of all Puget Sound Chinook salmon populations has 
declined substantially from historical levels, and many populations are 
sufficiently small that genetic and demographic risks, are relatively 
high.

The Plan's Recovery Goals, Objectives and Criteria

    The Shared Strategy Plan's overarching goal is to ``recover self-
sustaining, harvestable salmon runs in a manner that contributes to the 
overall health of Puget Sound and its watersheds and allows us to enjoy 
and use this precious resource in concert with our region's economic 
vitality and prosperity.'' The PSTRT provided recommendations for 
Chinook salmon recovery based on the principles described in a NMFS 
technical memorandum, Viable Salmonid Populations and the Recovery of 
Evolutionarily Significant Units (McElhany et al., 2000). The Shared 
Strategy Plan accepts these principles as the foundation for biological 
status assessments and recovery goals and adopts the viability criteria 
recommended by the PSTRT at both the population and ESU levels. It also 
adopts a complementary set of recovery planning targets developed by 
state and tribal fisheries co-managers. The PSTRT recommended that for 
the Puget Sound Chinook salmon ESU to be viable, all of the 22 
populations would have to improve from current conditions, but not all 
would have to achieve a low risk status.
    The Shared Strategy Plan relies on the work of 14 individual 
watershed planning groups to set goals for their Chinook salmon 
populations. The PSTRT reviewed the watershed plans in 2004 and 2005. 
The individual watershed goals are summarized in Volume I, Chapter 5 of 
the Shared Strategy Plan, and detailed in the watershed plans in Volume 
II. Most of the watershed plans aim toward low-risk status for their 
populations over time, and all adopted the co-managers' planning 
targets as their long-term, measurable recovery goals.
    In accordance with its responsibilities under ESA section 4(c)(2), 
NMFS will conduct status reviews of the listed Puget Sound Chinook 
salmon ESU at least once every 5 years to evaluate its status and 
determine whether the ESU should be removed from the list or changed in 
status. Such evaluations will take into account the following:
     The biological recovery criteria (Ruckelshaus et al., 
2002) and listing factor (threats) criteria described above.
     Principles presented in the Viable Salmonid Populations 
(VSP) paper (McElhany et al., 2000).
     Co-managers' recovery planning targets.
     Best available information on population and ESU status 
and new advances in risk evaluation methodologies.
     Considerations consistent with the VSP paper and the 
PSTRT's recommendations, including: the number of viable populations; 
the number and status of other extant populations; the extinction risk 
of all populations; the distribution of viable populations relative to 
the range of historical conditions supporting viable populations; 
linkages and connectivity among viable populations; the diversity of 
life history and phenotypes expressed; and considerations regarding 
catastrophic risk.
     Principles laid out in NMFS' Hatchery Listing Policy (70 
FR 37204, June 28, 2005).

Causes for Decline and Current Threats

    Listing factors are those features that were evaluated under 
section 4(a)(1) when the initial determination was made to list the 
species for protection under the ESA. These factors are: (A) The 
present or threatened destruction,

[[Page 2495]]

modification, or curtailment of a species' habitat or range; (B) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific or educational 
purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms; and (E) other natural or man-made factors 
affecting the species' continued existence. These may or may not still 
be limiting recovery when in the future NMFS reevaluates the status of 
the species to determine whether the protections of the ESA are no 
longer warranted and the species could be ``delisted.'' In its Final 
Supplement to the Shared Strategy Plan, NMFS provides specific criteria 
for each of the relevant listing/delisting factors to help ensure that 
underlying causes of decline have been addressed and mitigated prior to 
considering the species for delisting.

Site-Specific Actions

    The Recovery Plan recognizes that recovery actions must be 
implemented at both the regional, or ESU, and watershed, or population, 
levels, and it proposes both types of site specific actions. Watershed-
level actions are detailed in the individual watershed plans contained 
in Volume II of the Shared Strategy Plan, and regional actions are 
described in Volume I. The Recovery Plan states that recovery will 
depend on integrating actions that address habitat (including 
hydropower effects), harvest, and hatchery operations. An adaptive 
management program is under development in coordination with NMFS and 
regional stakeholders involved in implementation of the Recovery Plan.

Time and Cost Estimates

    The ESA section 4(f)(1) requires that a recovery plan include 
``estimates of the time required and the cost to carry out those 
measures needed to achieve the Plan's goal and to achieve intermediate 
steps toward that goal'' (16 U.S.C. 1533[f][1]). The Shared Strategy 
Plan estimates that recovery of Puget Sound Chinook salmon will take 
``several decades,'' or 50 to 100 years. Chapter 8 of the Shared 
Strategy Plan summarizes cost estimates for the measures needed to 
achieve the plan's goal and to achieve intermediate steps toward that 
goal. The Shared Strategy Plan (Volume I and the individual watershed 
chapters in Volume II) provides cost estimates to carry out specific 
recovery actions for the first 10 years of plan implementation, as well 
as cost estimates for programs that span multiple watersheds: hatchery 
improvements, nearshore and marine habitat protection and restoration, 
and incentive programs for habitat restoration and conservation on farm 
and small forest lands. The total cost is estimated at an average of 
$120 million per year for the first 10 years. Implementing this first 
phase is expected to result in improved conditions for all Puget Sound 
Chinook populations and to put the ESU on a trajectory toward recovery.
    NMFS supports the policy determination to focus on the first 10 
years of implementation, with the proviso that before the end of this 
first implementation period, specific actions and costs to achieve 
long-term goals will be estimated for subsequent years, to proceed 
until a determination is made that listing is no longer necessary. NMFS 
agrees that 10 years is a reasonable period of time during which to 
implement and evaluate the actions identified in the Recovery Plan. 
NMFS strongly supports the Shared Strategy Plan's intention to conduct 
additional economic analyses through the adaptive management process 
over time and to use these in realigning priorities as appropriate.

Conclusion

    NMFS concludes that the Recovery Plan meets the requirements of ESA 
section 4(f) and thus is adopting it as the Recovery Plan for Puget 
Sound Chinook Salmon.

Literature Cited

    McElhany, P., M.H. Ruckelshaus, M.J. Ford, T.C. Wainwright, and 
E.P. Bjorkstedt. 2000. Viable salmon populations and the recovery of 
evolutionarily significant units. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Tech. 
Memo., NMFS-NWFSC-42, 156p.
    Ruckelshaus, M.H., K. Currens, R. Furstenberg, W. Graeber, K. 
Rawson, N.J. Sands, and K.J. Scott. 2002. Planning ranges and 
preliminary guideline for the delisting and recovery of the Puget Sound 
Chinook salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit. Puget Sound Technical 
Recovery Team.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

    Dated: January 10, 2007.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E7-810 Filed 1-18-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S