[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 226 (Wednesday, November 25, 2009)]
[Pages 61671-61673]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-28294]



[FRL-8977-7; Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2009-0816]

A Framework for Categorizing the Relative Vulnerability of 
Threatened and Endangered Species to Climate Change

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of public comment period.


SUMMARY: EPA is announcing a 30-day public comment period for the draft 
document titled, ``A Framework for Categorizing the Relative 
Vulnerability of Threatened and Endangered Species to Climate Change'' 
(EPA/600/R-09/011). The document was prepared by the National Center 
for Environmental Assessment within EPA's Office of Research and 
Development. This draft document describes an evaluative framework that 
may be used to categorize the relative vulnerability of species to 
climate change. To illustrate the use of this framework, it was applied 
to five U.S. threatened and endangered species: The golden-cheeked 
warbler, the salt marsh harvest mouse, the Mount Graham red squirrel, 
the Lahontan cutthroat trout, and the desert tortoise. A sixth species, 
the bald eagle which is no longer listed as threatened or endangered, 
except for the southwest population, was also evaluated.
    An external peer review of this report has been completed. The 
public comment period and the external peer review are separate 
processes. The public comment period provides an opportunity for all 
interested parties to comment on the document. When finalizing the 
draft document, EPA will consider any public comments received in 
accordance with this notice.
    EPA is releasing this draft document solely for the purpose of pre-
dissemination review and comment under applicable information quality 
guidelines. This document has not been formally disseminated by EPA and 
does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency 
policy or determination. The first draft of this report was reviewed in 
2002 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within the Department of the 
Interior. This final draft is being released to the public as well as 
to other federal agencies who may wish to comment.

DATES: The 30-day public comment period begins November 25, 2009, and 
ends December 28, 2009. Technical comments should be in writing and 
must be received by EPA by December 28, 2009.

ADDRESSES: The draft ``A Framework for Categorizing the Relative 
Vulnerability of Threatened and Endangered Species to Climate Change'' 
is available primarily via the Internet on the National Center for 
Environmental Assessment's home page under the Recent Additions and the 
Data and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea. A limited 
number of paper copies are available from the Information Management 
Team, NCEA; telephone: 703-347-8561; facsimile: 703-347-8691. If you 
are requesting a paper copy, please provide your name, your mailing 
address, and the document title, ``A Framework for Categorizing the 
Relative Vulnerability of Threatened and Endangered Species to Climate 

[[Page 61672]]

    Comments may be submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov, by mail, by facsimile, or by hand delivery/
courier. Please follow the detailed instructions provided in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the public comment 
period, contact the Office of Environmental Information Docket; 
telephone: 202-566-1752; facsimile: 202-566-1753; or e-mail: 
[email protected].
    For technical information, contact Susan Julius, NCEA; telephone: 
703-347-8619; facsimile: 703-347-8694; or e-mail: [email protected].


I. Information About the Project/Document

    The document, ``A Framework for Categorizing the Relative 
Vulnerability of Threatened and Endangered Species to Climate Change'' 
describes an evaluative framework that may be used to categorize the 
relative vulnerability of species to climate change. It is intended 
that the results of applying the framework be regarded as indications 
of the comparative vulnerabilities of species, not estimates of a 
species' absolute vulnerability to climate change. Four modules compose 
this framework: Module 1 categorizes baseline vulnerability to 
extinction or major population reduction by scoring those elements of 
the species' life history, demographics, and conservation status that 
influence the likelihood of its survival or extinction (excluding 
climatic changes); Module 2 scores the likely vulnerability of a 
species to future climate change, including the species' potential 
physiological, behavioral, demographic, and ecological response to 
climate change; Module 3 combines the results of Modules 1 and 2 into a 
matrix to produce an overall score of the species' vulnerability to 
climate change, which maps to an adjectival category, such as 
``critically vulnerable,'' ``highly vulnerable,'' ``less vulnerable,'' 
and ``least vulnerable;'' Module 4 is a qualitative determination of 
uncertainty of overall vulnerability (high, medium, and low) based on 
evaluations of uncertainty done in each of the first 3 modules.
    To illustrate the use of this framework, it was applied to six U.S. 
species that were listed as threatened or endangered at the time the 
framework was developed. Based on the framework, four of those species 
were categorized as ``critically vulnerable'' to climate change: The 
golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia), the salt marsh harvest 
mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris), the Mount Graham red squirrel 
(Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis), and the Lahontan cutthroat trout 
(Oncorhyncus clarki henshawi). The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) 
was characterized as ``highly vulnerable'' and the bald eagle 
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was categorized as ``less vulnerable.'' 
Certainty scores in Module 4 ranged between medium and high and reflect 
the amount and quality of information available.
    This framework was developed by EPA's Global Change Research 
Program and is offered as one of a number of potential approaches for 
prioritizing those species most vulnerable to climate change. It is not 
intended to serve as a tool for determining whether a species is 
endangered or threatened under the Section 4 listing process of the 
Endangered Species Act.
    EPA's Global Change Research is an assessment-oriented program 
committed to developing frameworks and tools to assist decision-makers 
in evaluating the impacts of climate change to air quality, water 
quality and ecosystems.

II. How To Submit Technical Comments to the Docket at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD 2009-
0816, by one of the following methods:
     http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line 
instructions for submitting comments.
     E-mail: [email protected].
     Fax: 202-566-1753.
     Mail: Office of Environmental Information (OEI) Docket 
(Mail Code: 2822T), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 
Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. The phone number is 202-
     Hand Delivery: The OEI Docket is located in the EPA 
Headquarters Docket Center, Room 3334 EPA West Building, 1301 
Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center's Public 
Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public 
Reading Room is 202-566-1744. Such deliveries are only accepted during 
the docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should 
be made for deliveries of boxed information.
    If you provide comments by mail or hand delivery, please submit 
three copies of the comments. For attachments, provide an index, number 
pages consecutively with the comments, and submit an unbound original 
and three copies.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-
2009-0816. Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the 
specified comment period. Comments received after the closing date will 
be marked ``late,'' and may only be considered if time permits. It is 
EPA's policy to include all comments it receives in the public docket 
without change and to make the comments available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless a comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or e-
mail. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous 
access'' system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact 
information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you 
send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your e-mail address will be automatically captured 
and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket 
and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic 
comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact 
information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you 
submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties 
and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to 
consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special 
characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or 
viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket visit the 
EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.
    Docket: Documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other materials, 
such as copyrighted material, are publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the OEI Docket in the 
EPA Headquarters Docket Center.

[[Page 61673]]

    Dated: October 21, 2009.
Rebecca Clark,
Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment.
[FR Doc. E9-28294 Filed 11-24-09; 8:45 am]