[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 151 (Tuesday, August 6, 2013)]
[Pages 47722-47723]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-18914]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2013-N162; FXES11130400000C2-134-FF040E00000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Recovery Plan for 
Alabama Sturgeon

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the final recovery plan for the endangered Alabama sturgeon. The 
final plan includes specific recovery objectives and criteria to be met 
in order to downlist the species to threatened under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the recovery plan by contacting 
Jeff Powell at the Daphne Field Office, by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Alabama Field Office, 1208-B Main Street, Daphne, AL 
36532, or by telephone at 251-441-5858. Alternatively, you may visit 
the Fish and Wildlife Service's recovery plan Web site at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans or the Daphne Field Office 
Web site at http://www.fws.gov/daphne/ to obtain a copy.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Powell, at the above addresses or 
by telephone at 251-441-5858.



    We listed the Alabama sturgeon (Scaphirhyncus suttkusi) as an 
endangered species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) on May 5, 
2000 (65 FR 26438) and designated critical habitat for the species on 
June 2, 2009 (74 FR 26488). The species' historic range encompassed all 
major rivers in the Mobile Basin, below the Fall Line,

[[Page 47723]]

including the Alabama, Tombigbee, and Cahaba River systems. Recent 
collections of the species have been restricted to the lower Alabama 
River below R.F. Henry Lock and Dam to the confluence of the Tombigbee 
River, as well as to the lower Cahaba River near its confluence with 
the Alabama River; however, incidents of such collections are extremely 
rare. The last capture of an Alabama sturgeon was on April 3, 2007, by 
biologists at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural 
Resources (ADCNR). The species was last observed on April 23, 2009, by 
ADCNR biologists. The Alabama sturgeon is one of the rarest species of 
fish in the nation and may be close to extinction.
    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help guide the 
recovery effort, we prepare recovery plans for most listed species. 
Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for conservation 
of the species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting, and 
estimate time and cost for implementing recovery measures.
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide a 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. The draft of this recovery plan was 
available for public comment from April 12 through June 11, 2012 (77 FR 
21993). We considered the information received via public comments as 
well as from peer reviewers in our preparation and approval of this 
final recovery plan. We also edited some sections of the draft recovery 
plan to reflect these comments; however, no substantial changes were 
made to the draft plan.

Recovery Plan Components

    The objective of this plan is to provide a framework for the 
recovery of the Alabama sturgeon so that protection under the Act is no 
longer necessary. Delisting of the species is not currently foreseeable 
due to extreme curtailment of range and extensive modification to the 
riverine habitats. Therefore, this recovery plan establishes criteria 
for downlisting the Alabama sturgeon from endangered to threatened.
    Downlisting of the Alabama sturgeon may be considered when the 
following criteria are met: (1) A population consisting of 
approximately 500 sexually mature Alabama sturgeon is shown to be 
surviving and naturally reproducing in the Alabama/Cahaba Rivers; (2) 
population studies show that the Alabama sturgeon population is 
naturally recruiting (consisting of multiple age classes), sustainable 
over a period of 20 years (2-3 generations), and no longer requires 
hatchery augmentation; and (3) an agreement is in place that ensures 
adequate flows are being delivered down the Alabama River for 
successful development of sturgeon larvae and passage of the fish both 
upstream and downstream at dams on the Alabama River.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f).

    Dated: July 8, 2013.
Leopoldo Miranda,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2013-18914 Filed 8-5-13; 8:45 am]