[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 248 (Friday, December 28, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 67131-67140]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-27971]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2017-0063; 4500030113]
RIN 1018-BC16

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species 
Status for Trispot Darter

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
threatened species status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(Act), as amended, for trispot darter (Etheostoma trisella), a fish 
species found in the Coosa River system in Alabama, Georgia, and 
Tennessee. This rule adds this species to the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife.

DATES: This rule is effective January 28, 2019.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2017-0063, and at the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Ecological Services Field 
Office, 1208 Main Street, Daphne, AL 36526; telephone 251-441-5181. 
Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting documentation 
we used in preparing this rule, are available for public inspection at 
http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2017-0063, and by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the Alabama Ecological 
Services Field Office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Pearson, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Ecological Services Field Office 
(see ADDRESSES). Persons who use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.


Previous Federal Actions

    On October 4, 2017, we published a proposed rule in the Federal 
Register (82 FR 46183) to list the trispot darter as a threatened 
species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Please refer to that 
proposed rule for a detailed description of previous Federal actions 
concerning this species.
    Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, we propose to (1) designate 
critical habitat for the trispot darter under the Act; and (2) issue a 
rule under section 4(d) of the Act that provides measures necessary and 
advisable for the conservation of the trispot darter.


    Please refer to the October 4, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 46183) 
and the Species Status Assessment (SSA) Report for a full summary of 
species information. Both documents are available at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2017-0063, and on the 
Service's Southeast Region website at https://www.fws.gov/southeast/.
    The trispot darter is a freshwater fish found in the Coosa River 
System in the Ridge and Valley ecoregion of Alabama, Georgia, and 
Tennessee. This fish has a historical range from the middle to upper 
Coosa River Basin with collections in the mainstem Coosa, Oostanaula, 
Conasauga, and Coosawattee Rivers, and their tributaries. Currently, 
the trispot darter is known to occur in four populations in the Little 
Canoe Creek and tributaries (Coosa River), Ballplay Creek tributaries 
(Coosa River), Conasauga River and tributaries, and Coosawattee River 
and one tributary.
    The trispot darter is a migratory species that utilizes distinct 
breeding and non-breeding habitats. From approximately April to 
October, the species inhabits its non-breeding habitat, which consists 
of small to medium river margins and lower reaches of tributaries with 
slower velocities. It is associated with detritus, logs, and stands of 
water willow, and the substrate consists of small cobbles, pebbles, 
gravel, and often a fine layer of silt. During low flow periods, the 
darters move away from the peripheral zones and toward the main 
channel; edges of water willow beds, riffles, and pools; and mouths of 
tributaries. In late fall, this migratory species shifts its habitat 
preference and begins movement toward spawning areas; this is most 
likely stimulated by precipitation, but temperature changes and 
decreasing daylight hours may also provide cues to begin migration. 
Migration into spawning areas begins approximately late November or 
early December with fish moving from the main channels into tributaries 
and eventually reaching adjacent seepage areas where they will 
congregate and remain for the duration of spawning, approximately until 
late April. Breeding sites are intermittent seepage areas and ditches 
with little to no flow; shallow depths (12 inches (30 centimeters) or 
less); moderate leaf litter covering mixed cobble, gravel, sand, and 
clay; a deep layer of soft silt over clay; and emergent vegetation. 
Trispot darters predominantly feed on mayfly nymphs and midge larvae 
and pupae.
    The trispot darter was first described in 1963 from a single 
specimen collected in Cowans Creek in Cherokee County, Alabama. This 
species was originally described as a member of the

[[Page 67132]]

subgenus Psychromaster and was later moved to the subgenus Ozarka in 
1980 where it remains today. Currently, the trispot darter is 
considered a valid taxon (Service 2017, p. 6).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In our October 4, 2017, proposed rule to list the trispot darter as 
a threatened species (82 FR 46183), we requested that all interested 
parties submit written comments on the proposal by December 4, 2017. We 
also contacted appropriate Federal and State agencies, scientific 
experts and organizations, and other interested parties, and invited 
them to comment on the proposal. Newspaper notices inviting general 
public comment were published in the St. Clair News-Aegis, St. Clair 
Times, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and 
The Daily Home. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. 
All substantive information provided during the comment period has 
either been incorporated directly into this final determination or is 
addressed, by topic, below.

Peer Reviewer Comments

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), and our August 22, 2016, memorandum updating and 
clarifying the role of peer review actions under the Act, we solicited 
expert opinion from four knowledgeable individuals with scientific 
expertise that included familiarity with trispot darter and its 
habitat, biological needs, and threats. We received responses from two 
of the peer reviewers.
    We reviewed all comments we received from the peer reviewers for 
substantive issues and new information regarding the information 
contained in the SSA Report. The peer reviewers generally concurred 
with our methods and conclusions, and provided additional information, 
clarifications, and suggestions to improve the final SSA Report. Peer 
reviewer comments are addressed in the following summary and were 
incorporated into the final SSA Report as appropriate.
    (1) Comment: One peer reviewer expressed doubt that hurricanes or 
other large storms can negatively affect stream fish communities.
    Our Response: Large storms have been found to disturb aquatic 
habitats to the extent that stream fish assemblages have been observed 
to be altered as a result (Service 2017, p. 25; Service 2011, p. 9). 
Recovery of stream fish communities to assemblages seen before 
disturbances from large storms depends on adjacent source populations 
and the dispersal ability of specific species. In the case of rare 
species with isolated populations such as the trispot darter, large 
storms that are capable of causing a level of disturbance that alters 
fish communities can pose a substantial threat. A more thorough 
discussion of this threat can be found in the SSA Report (Service 2017, 
p. 25).
    (2) Comment: One peer reviewer suggested that not enough 
information was available on the trispot darter to infer its historical 
    Our Response: We are required to use the best available commercial 
and scientific information available at the time we make our 
determination. Available resources at the time of rulemaking have 
described the range of the trispot darter as the upper Coosa River 
system. Based on recorded occurrences of the trispot darter in the 
mainstem of the Coosa River and tributaries to the Coosa River in 
Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, we conclude that the historical range 
described as the upper Coosa River system is reasonably supported.

Public Comments

    (3) Comment: One commenter expressed concern about the presence of 
the Conasauga Shale Field, a natural gas-bearing formation, within 
portions of the trispot darter's range. The commenter provided current 
research that demonstrated negative associations between hydraulic 
fracturing (fracking) and fish recruitment, and recommended the Service 
evaluate oil and gas exploration in the Conasauga Shale Field and its 
influence on trispot darter.
    Our Response: We contacted the Alabama State Oil and Gas Board to 
assess the current and future status of natural gas exploration and 
exploitation of the Conasauga Shale Field in Alabama. Based on our 
correspondence, we find that fracking within the Conasauga Shale Field 
is unlikely to be a threat to the trispot darter within the foreseeable 
future. Currently, no new drilling permits have been approved, and all 
existing wells have been plugged and abandoned. Wells were abandoned 
due to low productivity and low gas prices. For these reasons, and 
because of low permeability of the rock formation, the Alabama State 
Oil and Gas Board expects that oil and gas extraction is unlikely to 
occur there within the foreseeable future.
    (4) Comment: One commenter provided additional information on the 
effects of hypolimnetic releases from dams on riverine ecosystems and 
fish species present in tailwaters. Hypolimnetic refers to the part of 
a lake below the thermocline made up of water that is stagnant and of 
essentially uniform temperature except during the period of overturn. 
The commenter also noted that dams can create many kilometers of 
unsuitable habitat because of changes in the temperature regime from 
hypolimnetic flow releases. Decreases in streamflow temperature as a 
result of hypolimnetic releases have been shown to adversely affect 
darter species by increasing the probability of local extinction in 
cold waters downstream of dams.
    Our Response: We incorporated the information from the additional 
studies clarifying the effects of hydropower projects on aquatic 
species and have added them to the appropriate sections of the SSA 
Report. We also recognize that currently the trispot darter is exposed 
to releases from the Carters Reregulation Dam. However, past research 
has found that operation of the reregulation dam does not affect the 
system's ability to provide adequate dissolved oxygen for the trispot 
darter (Freeman 2011, p. 10); this system also still meets State water 
quality and temperature standards (USACE 2015, p. 4-13). Therefore, 
temperature and dissolved oxygen alterations are not viewed as 
stressors to the trispot darter in the Coosawattee River below the 
Carters Reregulation Dam.
    (5) Comment: One commenter noted that the overall condition of the 
Little Canoe Creek Management Unit (MU) is ranked as moderate even 
though six of the seven factors considered in the ranking scored as 
``low'' in the October 4, 2017, proposed rule to list the trispot 
darter as a threatened species (82 FR 46183).
    Our Response: The overall condition for the Little Canoe Creek MU 
presented in the proposed rule (see 82 FR 46187) and the SSA Report 
(version 1.0) was in error. We have corrected the condition rank in 
this rule and the updated SSA Report (version 1.2). However, this 
correction does not change our assessment of future conditions in the 
SSA Report, nor our conclusions presented in the October 4, 2017, 
proposed rule.

Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule

    In preparing this final rule, we reviewed and fully considered 
comments from the public on the proposed rule. We did not make any 
substantive changes to this final rule after consideration of the 
comments we received. We did update the SSA Report (to version 1.2) 
based on comments and some additional information provided, as follows: 
(1) We made many small, nonsubstantive clarifications and

[[Page 67133]]

corrections throughout the SSA Report, including ensuring consistency 
of colors on maps, providing details about data sources used, updating 
references, and making minor clarifications; and (2) we included in the 
updated version of the SSA Report the additional information we 
received regarding observations of the trispot darter, hypothesized 
historical range of the trispot darter, and more detailed life-history 
data for the species. However, the information we received during the 
comment period for the proposed rule did not change our determination 
that the trispot darter is a threatened species.

Summary of Biological Status and Threats

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing 
regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 
part 424, set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal 
Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 
4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based on (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. These factors represent broad 
categories of natural or human-caused actions or conditions that could 
have an effect on a species' continued existence. In evaluating these 
actions and conditions, we look for those that may have a negative 
effect on individuals of the species, as well as other actions or 
conditions that may ameliorate any negative effects or may have 
positive effects.
    We use the term ``threat'' to refer in general to actions or 
conditions that are known to or are reasonably likely to negatively 
affect individuals of a species. The term ``threat'' includes actions 
or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct 
impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration 
of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ``threat'' 
may encompass--either together or separately--the source of the action 
or condition or the action or condition itself. However, the mere 
identification of any threat(s) does not necessarily mean that the 
species meets the statutory definition of an ``endangered species'' or 
a ``threatened species.'' In determining whether a species meets either 
definition, we must evaluate all identified threats by considering the 
expected response by the species, and the effects of the threats--in 
light of those actions and conditions that will ameliorate the 
threats--on an individual, population, and species level. We evaluate 
each threat and its expected effects on the species, then analyze the 
cumulative effect of all of the threats on the species as a whole. We 
also consider the cumulative effect of the threats in light of those 
actions and conditions that will have positive effects on the species--
such as any existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts. The 
Secretary determines whether the species meets the definition of an 
``endangered species'' or a ``threatened species'' only after 
conducting this cumulative analysis and describing the expected effect 
on the species now and in the foreseeable future.
    Our assessment evaluated the biological status of the species and 
threats affecting its continued existence. It was based upon the best 
available scientific and commercial data, including the SSA Report 
(Service 2018, entire), and the expert opinion of the SSA team members. 
Please refer to chapter 3 of the SSA Report (Service 2018, pp. 17-25) 
for a more detailed discussion of the factors affecting the trispot 

Risk Factors Influencing Viability of Trispot Darter

    As discussed above, we considered the five factors set forth in 
section 4(a)(1) of the Act in assessing whether the species meets the 
definition of an endangered or a threatened species. A multitude of 
natural and anthropogenic factors may impact the status of species 
within aquatic systems. The largest threats to the future viability of 
the trispot darter involve habitat degradation from factors influencing 
four habitat elements: Water quality, water quantity, instream habitat, 
and habitat connectivity (Factor A). All of these factors are 
exacerbated by the effects of climate change (Factor E). A brief 
summary of these primary stressors is presented below; for a full 
description of the factors, refer to chapter 4 of the SSA Report.
Hydrologic Alteration
    Activities that lead to hydrologic alteration include reservoir 
construction and operation, excessive water withdrawals, and an 
increase in impervious surfaces.
    Hydrologic alteration in the system occupied by the trispot darter 
has two components: Increases in storm flow frequency and intensity, 
and a decrease in base flows, which together create a ``flashy'' 
hydrologic regime. In a natural forested system, most rainfall soaks 
into the soil and is carried into nearby streams via subsurface flow. 
Some evaporates or transpires, and a relatively small amount becomes 
surface runoff. In the trispot darter's system, which is urbanized with 
large amounts of impervious cover such as roads, parking lots, and 
rooftops, this cycle is altered; most stormwater hits impervious 
surfaces and becomes runoff, which then is channeled quickly to streams 
via stormwater drain pipes or ditches. Relatively little infiltrates 
into the soil. As a result, storm flows in the receiving stream are 
higher and more frequent, although briefer in duration, and base flows 
are lower, than in natural systems. The storm discharge of urban 
streams can be twice that of rural streams draining a watershed of 
similar size, and the frequency of channel-forming events can be 10 
times that of pre-development conditions. These ``flashy'' stream flows 
and frequent, smaller high-flow events negatively affect structural 
habitat on which the trispot darter depends. Increases in flow 
frequency or intensity can result in channel widening through bank 
erosion or deepening to accommodate the additional discharge. This 
results in increased downstream sedimentation and unstable beds, both 
of which degrade channel complexity and feeding and refugia habitat for 
fish species. Increased storm flows, in addition, can cause physical 
washout of eggs and larval fishes, stress on adults, and negatively 
alter the stream's food web, affecting many fish species. There is also 
a decrease in channel complexity and a reduction in instream cover and 
natural substrates like boulders, cobble, and gravel.
    Reservoirs can substantially alter hydrology downstream, especially 
when operated for hydroelectric power generation. Hydropeaking dams 
produce high flows only when power generation is needed. Hydropeaking 
dams, Carters Dam and Reregulation Dam, exist on the Coosawattee River. 
Rapid flow increases and decreases from hydropeaking can reduce stream 
insect abundance, potentially decreasing food availability for darters. 
Furthermore, managed rivers can exhibit substantially altered and novel 
food webs that affect native communities and their ability to withstand 
perturbations. Non-hydropeaking reservoirs, farm ponds, amenity lakes, 
and other impoundments may also substantially alter hydrologic regimes 
by storing water during low flow periods, effectively dampening 
moderate to high flows and in some cases augmenting flows. Fish are 
adapted to the natural seasonal

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variations of flow, and alterations to this regime affect their life-
history strategies.
    Hydrologic alteration can also lead to other stressors, such as 
sedimentation and a loss of connected suitable habitat.
    Sedimentation can affect fish species by degrading physical habitat 
used for foraging, sheltering, and spawning; altering food webs and 
decreasing stream productivity; forcing fish to change their behaviors; 
and even injuring or killing individual fish. Chronic exposure to 
sediment has been shown to have negative impacts to fish gills, which 
in addition to causing gill damage can possibly reduce growth rates. 
Sedimentation causes reduced visibility, impacting fishes' abilities to 
feed and interact.
    A wide range of activities (including agricultural activities, 
construction activities, some forestry activities if certified best 
management practices are not used, and dredging), as well as stormwater 
runoff, unpaved roads, and utility crossings, can lead to sedimentation 
within streams. Historical land use practices have substantially 
altered hydrological and geological processes such that sediments 
continue to be input into streams for several decades after those 
activities cease. Examples of these activities occurring within the 
range of the trispot darter include urban impacts in the Springville, 
Alabama, and Dalton, Georgia, areas; agricultural practices in the 
Conasauga River basin; and livestock access to streams in the Little 
Canoe Creek watershed.
Reduced Connectivity
    Connectivity relates to a species' ability to disperse to and from 
habitat patches. Excess groundwater withdrawal, causing sections of 
streams to become dry for parts of the year, can reduce connectivity. 
Dams and reservoirs reduce connectivity by creating a physical barrier 
between fish populations and by changing habitat from flowing streams 
to standing water, which is not suitable habitat for this darter. Road 
crossings, some of which have impassible culverts that reduce 
connectivity, are also more prevalent in highly populated urban areas. 
All of these factors have occurred or are occurring in the range of the 
trispot darter.
Loss of Riparian Vegetation
    This fish has adapted to occupy habitats that are surrounded by 
vegetation, which moderates temperature by blocking solar radiation; 
provides a source for terrestrial plant material that forms the base of 
the food web and provides shelter and foraging habitat for this fish; 
and helps to maintain clear, clean water and substrate through 
filtration. Removal of riparian vegetation can destabilize stream 
banks, increasing sedimentation and turbidity; increase the 
contaminants and nutrients that enter the water from runoff; increase 
water temperatures and light penetration, which also increases algae 
production; and alter available habitat by reducing woody plant debris 
and leaf litter, which in turn decreases overall stream productivity. 
All of these events decrease habitat suitability for the trispot 
darter. Removal of riparian vegetation has occurred where urban and 
agricultural practices are prevalent, such as increased development in 
Dalton, Chatsworth, and Ellijay, and occurrences of row crops and 
pastures in the Conasauga River basin generally.
    Contaminants, including metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides, and other 
potentially harmful organic and inorganic compounds, can be toxic to 
fish and are common in urban streams, including those within the range 
of the trispot darter. Exposure to contaminants may cause physiological 
stress to the trispot darter as seen in other members of the genus 
Etheostoma, and streams affected by multiple sources of contaminants 
may induce higher levels of stress on the fish (Diamond et al. 2016; p. 
    Contamination in the mainstem of the Coosa River by polychlorinated 
biphenyl (PCBs) has been attributed to past industrial activity 
adjacent to the river. In the Coosawattee River, PCBs caused by 
nonpoint sources are also identified as a source of impairment. PCBs 
have toxic effects to the endocrine system, nervous system, 
reproductive system, blood, skin, and liver of animals, and have likely 
impacted the trispot darter in both basins.
    Pesticides and herbicides are frequently found in streams draining 
agricultural land uses, with herbicides being the most commonly 
detected. Many agricultural streams still contain 
dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethan (DDT) and its degradation products. 
Pesticides also are heavily used in urban and suburban areas, and many 
of these find their way into streams and groundwater. Glyphosates and 
other inert ingredients found in herbicides can be toxic to fish and 
other aquatic organisms, causing stress and reduced fitness; herbicide 
use where the trispot darter occurs in the Conasauaga River is 
prevalent and increasing.
    Agriculture is a predominant land use within the range of the 
trispot darter. Livestock grazing is prevalent in some areas, and 
poultry farming is also common.
    Poultry Litter: Poultry litter is a mixture of chicken manure, 
feathers, spilled food, and bedding material that frequently is used to 
fertilize pastureland or row crops. Each poultry house has an estimated 
ability to produce up to 100 tons of litter a year. Surface-spreading 
of litter results in runoff from heavy rains carrying the poultry 
litter into waterways, bringing phosphorus and nitrogen from manure 
into nearby streams. Additionally, repeated or over application of 
poultry litter can result in phosphorus buildup in the soil, which then 
runs off into streams. Excess phosphorus and nitrogen in streams 
increases algae and undesirable aquatic plants that rob water of 
oxygen, causing fish kills. Poultry litter also contains endocrine 
disruptors, such as estrogen, which have been identified as a 
significant stressor within the Conasauga River basin. Estrogens have 
been found in water and sediment samples within the watershed at 
concentrations high enough to be disruptive to the endocrine system in 
fish. Increased levels of estrogens affect reproductive biology and 
result in reduced breeding success. In a recent study of endocrine 
disruptors on fishes in the Conasauga River, approximately 7.5 percent 
of male fishes surveyed were found to have female reproductive cells in 
male reproductive organs.
    Livestock Access to Streams: On many farms, livestock is grazed on 
pastures adjacent to streams and rivers, and is allowed free access to 
the water. Livestock accessing riparian buffers and, subsequently, the 
stream proper leads to habitat destruction and decreased water quality. 
Livestock can destabilize stream banks, which, as discussed above, 
creates increased sediment loads within small systems.
    In addition to contributing to individual stressors such as changes 
in flow regime and contamination, urbanization is anticipated to 
increase the magnitude of nearly all other stressors, and thus is 
expected to affect the trispot darter across its range, which is close 
to the growing Atlanta metropolitan area, the expanding Chattanooga and 
Birmingham areas, and intervening areas with growing human populations 
and increasing development.

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Weather Events
    Weather events that affect stream flows are considered to be most 
relevant to the species. Broadly, these events include extreme storms 
and droughts. Increased flows can cause physical washout of eggs and 
larval fishes, cause stress on adults, and alter the production in a 
stream. Within the range of the trispot darter, extreme flows 
associated with hurricanes have been reported to have negative effects 
on stream fish populations. On the other hand, reduced baseflows due to 
droughts can also cause population declines, habitat loss, reduced 
water quality (decreased dissolved oxygen and temperature alteration) 
leading to death, crowding of individuals leading to stress, and 
decreased reproduction in stream fish populations.
    Climate models for the southeastern United States project that 
average annual temperatures will increase, cold days will become less 
frequent, the freeze-free season will lengthen, temperatures exceeding 
95 degrees Fahrenheit will increase, heat waves will become longer, and 
the number of major hurricanes will increase. While these climate 
models predict wide variability in weather patterns into the future, 
overall they suggest that the region will be subjected to more frequent 
large storms (hurricanes) as well as low flows from droughts.
Other Stressors
    In our analysis of the factors affecting these species, we found no 
evidence of population- or species-level impacts from overutilization 
for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes 
(Factor B). Also, there was no evidence of any impacts due to disease 
or predation (Factor C). No existing regulatory mechanisms adequately 
address the threats to the trispot darter such that it does not warrant 
listing under the Act (Factor D).
Conservation Actions
    The trispot darter is recognized by Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee 
as a species of concern. This species is listed as Priority 2/High 
Conservation Concern by the State of Alabama, endangered by the State 
of Georgia, and threatened by the State of Tennessee. Priority 
watersheds within the range of the trispot darter have been designated 
as Strategic Habitat Units by the Alabama Rivers and Streams Network 
(ARSN). ARSN is an organized partnership of state and federal entities 
as well as NGOs and corporations. Currently, the trispot darter is 
found in the Big Canoe Creek SHU and the Upper Coosa River tributaries 
SHU. The Strategic Habitat Unit project was developed for species 
restoration and enhancement. To work towards these goals, a thorough 
threats analysis is conducted in each SHU by partners to the ARSN, and 
the results of the threats analyses guide State and Federal agencies in 
prioritizing projects that reduce and remove the identified threats and 
ultimately improve habitat and water quality for listed and at risk 
species. The Atlantic Coast Conservancy holds a tract of land within 
Ballplay Creek that could offer some protection in the watershed. The 
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation 
Service's Working Lands for Wildlife partnership within the basin will 
help farmers develop and implement strategies to improve water quality.

Current Condition of Trispot Darter

    To assess viability for the trispot darter, we used the three 
conservation biology principles of resiliency, representation, and 
redundancy (together, the 3Rs). Briefly, resiliency supports the 
ability of the species to withstand environmental and demographic 
stochasticity (for example, wet or dry, warm or cold years); 
representation supports the ability of the species to adapt over time 
to long-term changes in the environment (for example, climate changes); 
and redundancy supports the ability of the species to withstand 
catastrophic events (for example, droughts, hurricanes). In general, 
the more redundant and resilient a species is and the more 
representation it has, the more likely it is to sustain populations 
over time, even under changing environmental conditions. Using these 
principles, we identified the species' ecological requirements for 
survival and reproduction at the individual, population, and species 
levels, and described the factors influencing the species' viability.
    The SSA process can be categorized into three sequential stages. 
During the first stage, we used the 3Rs to evaluate individual life-
history needs of all three darters. In the next stage, we assessed the 
historical and current condition of each species' demographics and 
habitat characteristics, including an explanation of how the species 
arrived at their current conditions. In the final stage of the SSA we 
made predictions about the species' responses to positive and negative 
environmental and anthropogenic influences. This process used the best 
available information to characterize viability as the ability of each 
species to sustain populations in the wild over time.
    To qualitatively assess resiliency, we considered seven components 
that broadly relate to either the physical environment (``Habitat 
Elements'') or characteristics about the population specifically 
(``Population Elements''). Habitat elements consisted of an evaluation 
of physical habitat, connectivity, water quality, and hydrologic 
regime. Population elements consisted of an estimation of approximate 
abundance, the extent of occurrence (total length of occupied streams), 
and an assessment of occurrence complexity. Representation describes 
the ability of a species to adapt to changing environmental conditions 
over time. For trispot darters to exhibit high representation, 
resilient populations should occur in all ecoregions to which they are 
native, and maintain some level of connectivity between populations. 
These occupied physiographic provinces represent the ecological setting 
in which the darters have evolved. Redundancy is characterized by 
having multiple resilient and representative populations distributed 
throughout its range. Furthermore, these populations should maintain 
natural levels of connectivity between them. Connectivity allows for 
immigration and emigration between populations and increases the 
likelihood of recolonization should a population become extirpated. An 
overall resiliency condition was estimated by combining habitat and 
population elements. Population elements were weighted two times higher 
than habitat elements because they are considered direct indicators of 
population condition. Conditions were classified as ``Low'', 
``Moderate'', or ``High''.
    After analyzing current conditions for the species, we described 
how current viability of the three darters may change over a period of 
50 years. As with current conditions, we evaluated species viability in 
terms of resiliency at the population scale, and representation and 
redundancy at the species scale. In the SSA report, we described three 
plausible future scenarios and whether there will be a change, from 
current conditions, to resiliency, representation, or redundancy under 
each scenario. These scenarios capture the range of likely viability 
outcomes that the trispot darter is predicted to exhibit by the end of 
2070. The future scenarios differ in two main elements of predicted 
change: Urbanization and climate. To forecast future urbanization, we 
considered future scenarios that incorporate the SLEUTH (Slope, Land 
use, Excluded area, Urban area, Transportation,

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Hillside area) model. This model simulates patterns of urban expansion 
that are consistent with spatial observations of past urban growth and 
transportation networks. Regarding climate, the Intergovernmental Panel 
on Climate Change utilized a suite of alternative scenarios in the 
Fifth Assessment Report to make near-term and long-term climate 
projections. In our assessments, we used these projections to help 
understand how climate may change in the future and what effects may be 
observed that impact the trispot darter.
    Collection records used in the analysis were compiled and provided 
to the Service by State partners. These records did not exhibit 
standardization: The numbers of individuals collected was 
inconsistently recorded and sampling methods varied among records. 
Therefore, we were unable to analyze exact numbers collected for each 
record. Instead, abundance was estimated for each record categorically.
    According to our analysis, all of the current management units 
(MUs) have resiliency ranked as ``low'' in the analysis (see Table 1, 
below). Ballplay Creek MU has a low resiliency because of reduced 
genetic diversity, the abundance is qualitatively low, reservoirs and 
poor water quality remove connectivity to other MUs, the impairment of 
the Coosa River within the watershed, and the extent of the occupied 
habitat is small. The Little Canoe Creek MU has a low resiliency to 
stochastic events because water quality and abundance are low (although 
the occurrence complexity is high), Coosa River reservoirs remove 
connectivity to other MUs, and the extent of the occupied habitat is 
small. Because of the PCBs known in the area, the Coosawattee River has 
low resiliency due to hydrologic alteration from the hydroelectric dam, 
PCBs in the river contributing to low water quality, lower abundance of 
fish per collection record, a small and reduced distribution, and 
overall simple occurrence spatial arrangement. The Conasauga River MU 
has low resiliency due to low water quality in the middle and lower 
river, low abundance of fish per collection record, a reduced 
population, and overall simple occurrence spatial arrangement. For 
aquatic species that inhabit rivers, complex spatial occurrence relates 
to a species occupying multiple tributaries and the main-stem river as 
opposed to only inhabiting the main-stem river. A more complex and 
dendritic (tree-like) spatial arrangement of occupied habitat will be 
more resilient (Service 2017, p. 27).
    Historically, the trispot darter was found from the confluence of 
Holly Creek to Chatsworth, Georgia and is now only known from just 
upstream of Chatsworth. Currently, the trispot darter occupies 
approximately 20 percent of its historically known range. While it is 
clear the species has lost some of its historical range, the best 
available data do not indicate a declining trend in abundance in the 
remaining areas from historical to the present. This species is rare 
and difficult to detect. Combined with the inconsistent survey 
methodology and lack of standard collection records, this creates 
uncertainty in any analysis of trends or the ability to compare data 
across years.
    A full analysis for each unit's current condition can be found in 
the SSA Report and the proposed rule.

                                                                Table 1--Current Species Resiliency Summary of the Trispot Darter
                                                                                Occurrence                                                                                          Overall
                                 Approximate abundance   Occurrence extent      complexity       Physical habitat      Connectivity       Water  quality    Hydrologic regime      condition
Little Canoe Creek.............  Low..................  Low...............  High..............  Low...............  Low...............  Low...............  Low..............  Low.
Ballplay Creek.................  Low..................  Low...............  Low...............  Low...............  Low...............  Low...............  Low..............  Low.
Conasauga River................  Low..................  Low...............  Low...............  Low...............  Moderate..........  Low...............  Low..............  Low.
Coosawattee River..............  Low..................  Low...............  Low...............  Moderate..........  Moderate..........  Low...............  Low..............  Low.

Future Conditions of Trispot Darter

    For the purpose of this assessment, we define viability as the 
ability of the species to sustain populations in the wild over time. To 
address uncertainty associated with the degree and extent of potential 
future stressors and their impacts on species' requisites, we assessed 
the 3Rs using three plausible future scenarios. These scenarios were 
based, in part, on the results of urbanization and climate models that 
predict changes in habitat used by the trispot darter. The models that 
were used to forecast both urbanization and climate change projected 50 
years into the future (the year 2070).
    For example, in one scenario, current environmental regulations and 
policy, land use management techniques, and conservations measures 
remain the same over the next 50 years. We anticipate the current trend 
in greenhouse gas emissions to continue and moderate impacts from 
extreme weather events including intense drought, floods, and storm 
events to occur. Rapid urbanization will continue at the current 
estimated rate for the Piedmont region of the southeastern United 
States, which will increase demand for water resources and introduce 
multiple additional stressors into local streams and rivers. Despite an 
overall growth in population and increases in developed areas, some 
regions will remain predominantly in agriculture and experience 
associated water quality declines. In pace with current trends, we 
anticipate declines in habitat and water quantity and quality as a 
result of rapid urbanization, climate change, agricultural practices, 
and an overall lack of voluntary conservation measures being 
implemented. Under this scenario, two populations, Ballplay Creek and 
Conasauga River, are expected to become extirpated, while the remaining 
two, Little Canoe Creek and Coosawattee River, are projected to persist 
but in low resiliency condition. Because of the expected future 
extirpation of trispot darters predicted for Salacoa Creek (Coosawattee 
population) in this scenario, the fish would then be found only in the 
Coosawattee River mainstem (no longer in any tributaries), making it 
more vulnerable to catastrophic events. Redundancy decreases to two 
populations (Little Canoe Creek and Conasauga), which are completely 
isolated from one another due to the Weiss Dam. This means that genetic 
material will not be exchanged, reducing adaptive potential of the 
species. In the SSA Report, we describe conditions and results for all 
three scenarios that represent the likely range of plausible future 
outcomes for development, possible climate changes, and the species' 
expected response to threats. Results for our full future condition 
analysis for the future projections are provided in table 2, below and 
are discussed more fully in the SSA Report and the proposed rule.

[[Page 67137]]

          Table 2--Future Condition of the Trispot Darter by the Year 2070 Under Three Future Scenarios
        Management unit             Status quo         Best case                      Worst case
Little Canoe..................  Low..............  Moderate.........  Likely Extirpated.
Ballplay......................  Likely Extirpated  Low..............  Likely Extirpated.
Conasauga.....................  Likely Extirpated  Moderate.........  Likely Extirpated.
Coosawattee...................  Low..............  Moderate.........  Likely Extirpated.


    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
to the trispot darter. Our analysis of the trispot darter's current and 
future conditions, as well as the conservation efforts discussed above, 
show that the population and habitat factors used to determine the 
resiliency, representation, and redundancy for trispot darter will 
continue to decline such that it is likely to become in danger of 
extinction within the foreseeable future.
    We considered whether the trispot darter is presently in danger of 
extinction throughout its range. The current conditions as assessed in 
the SSA Report show extant populations in four river systems (MUs) 
across its range, including 65 river miles (105 river kilometers) of 
occupied habitat in the Conasauga River. The best available data do not 
indicate a declining trend in abundance, and it is likely that the low 
abundance (and, therefore, low resiliency) indicated in our analysis is 
due to the species being naturally rare and difficult to detect. The 
inconsistent survey methodology and lack of standard collection records 
also creates uncertainty in any analysis of trends or the ability to 
compare data across years. While threats are currently acting on the 
species and many of those threats are expected to continue into the 
future, we did not find that the species is currently in danger of 
extinction throughout its range.
    Based on our analysis of plausible future conditions of the trispot 
darter, we concluded that the resiliency, redundancy, and 
representation will be impacted by threats and the species will have 
reduced viability in the foreseeable future. While our future scenarios 
were developed using models that predicted out 50 years, the short 
lifespan of the species (2 to 3 years) and the lack of data and 
research specific to trispot darters regarding evidence of threats 
directly impacting the species creates uncertainty when predicting the 
species' response to threats into the future. Forecasting beyond 8 to 
10 generations (i.e., 16 to 24 years) would be speculative, and we do 
not have robust population data to support a foreseeable future that 
could accurately predict how the trispot darter may respond to threats 
beyond a 20-year timeframe. Accordingly, we have concluded that 
approximately 20 years is the appropriate foreseeable future for the 
trispot darter.
    Our analysis concludes that 30 years beyond our foreseeable future 
timeframe, our range of plausible future scenarios predicts the trispot 
darter may continue to persist in as many as all four of the 
populations; however, the entire risk profile indicates that all four 
populations could also possibly be extirpated in 50 years. It is 
reasonable to assume that at an intermediate timeframe of 16 to 24 
years, these scenarios will not have been realized completely; however, 
many populations that persist are likely to have low resiliency and 
continue to face threats. Considering this species' vulnerability to a 
loss of connectivity between breeding and nonbreeding habitats, and the 
effect that situation has on reproductive success, we expect negative 
impacts to the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the 
species in the foreseeable future. The trispot darter's unique 
reproductive strategy of utilizing distinct areas of rivers and streams 
for breeding and nonbreeding habitats makes the loss of connectivity 
especially detrimental to viability. A lack of protected lands within 
the current range of the trispot darter creates more uncertainty 
regarding land use, threats, and the ability of these four populations 
to withstand the expected loss of one or two populations. This expected 
reduction in both the number and distribution of resilient populations 
is likely to make the species vulnerable to catastrophic disturbance. 
Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, we find that the species is likely to become in danger of 
extinction within the foreseeable future throughout its range.
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. Because we have determined that the 
trispot darter is likely to become an endangered species within the 
foreseeable future throughout its range, we find it unnecessary to 
proceed to an evaluation of potentially significant portions of the 
range. Where the best available information allows the Services to 
determine a status for the species rangewide, that determination should 
be given conclusive weight because a rangewide determination of status 
more accurately reflects the species' degree of imperilment and better 
promotes the purposes of the statute. In this way, assigning the 
rangewide status to the species (rather than potentially assigning a 
different status based on a review of only a portion of the range) best 
implements the statutory distinction between threatened and endangered 
species. Maintaining this fundamental distinction is important for 
ensuring that conservation resources are allocated toward species 
according to their actual level of risk.
    We also note that Congress placed the ``all'' language before the 
``significant portion of its range'' phrase in the definitions of 
``endangered species'' and ``threatened species.'' This suggests that 
Congress intended that an analysis based on consideration of the entire 
range should receive primary focus, and thus that the agencies should 
do a ``significant portion of its range'' analysis as an alternative to 
a rangewide analysis only if necessary. Under this reading, we should 
first consider whether listing is appropriate based on a rangewide 
analysis and proceed to conduct a ``significant portion of its range'' 
analysis if, and only if, a species does not qualify for listing as 
either endangered or threatened according to the ``all'' language. We 
note that this interpretation is also consistent with the 2014 Final 
Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase ``Significant Portion of its 
Range'' (SPR Policy) (79 FR 37578; July 1, 2014). That policy is the 
subject of ongoing litigation, including litigation against the Service 
in the United States District Court for the Northern District of 
California, which has vacated the ``significant portion'' part of the 
Services' SPR Policy (Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, 
No. 16-cv-01165-JCS (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018)). However, our approach 
in this rule, explained above, has been reached and

[[Page 67138]]

applied independently of the SPR Policy, and is not inconsistent with 
the court's holding in Desert Survivors.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and 
conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies; private 
organizations; and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the 
States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the 
prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.

Recovery Actions

    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered 
and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The 
ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these 
listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of 
the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and 
implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the 
identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the 
species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and 
recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a 
point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning 
components of their ecosystems.
    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline 
shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final 
recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation 
of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to 
develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address 
continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive 
information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-
specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five 
factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be 
reclassified from endangered to threatened (``downlisted'') or removed 
from listing (``delisted''), and methods for monitoring recovery 
progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to 
coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of 
implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species 
experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and 
other stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. 
When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the 
final recovery plan will be available on our website (http://www.fws.gov/endangered) or from our Alabama Ecological Services field 
    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the 
participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal 
agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, 
and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat 
restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive 
propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The 
recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on 
Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires 
cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.
    Following publication of this final listing rule, funding for 
recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including 
Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal 
landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. 
In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of Alabama, 
Georgia, and Tennessee will be eligible for Federal funds to implement 
management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the 
trispot darter. Information on our grant programs that are available to 
aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
    Please let us know if you are interested in participating in 
recovery efforts for the trispot darter. Additionally, we invite you to 
submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes 
available and any information you may have for recovery planning 

Critical Habitat

    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their 
actions with respect to any species that is listed as an endangered or 
threatened species and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is 
designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation 
provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(2) 
of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they 
authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or destroy 
or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may 
affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible 
Federal agency must enter into consultation with the Service.
    Elsewhere in today's Federal Register, we propose to designate 
critical habitat for the trispot darter under the Act.

Regulatory Provisions

    Under section 4(d) of the Act, the Service has discretion to issue 
regulations that we find necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation of threatened species. The Act and its implementing 
regulations set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions 
that apply to threatened wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) 
of the Act, as applied to threatened wildlife and codified at 50 CFR 
17.31, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of 
the United States to take (which includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect; or to attempt any of 
these) threatened wildlife within the United States or on the high 
seas. In addition, it is unlawful to import; export; deliver, receive, 
carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the 
course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate 
or foreign commerce any listed species. It is also illegal to possess, 
sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has 
been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to employees of the 
Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, other Federal land 
management agencies, and State conservation agencies.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving threatened wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations 
governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.32. With regard to 
threatened wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes: 
For scientific purposes, for the enhancement of propagation or 
survival, for economic hardship, for zoological exhibition, for 
educational purposes, for incidental taking, or for special purposes 
consistent with the purposes of the Act. There are also certain 
statutory exemptions from the prohibitions, which are found in sections 
9 and 10 of the Act.
    Section 4(d) of the Act specifies that, for threatened species, the 
Secretary shall issue such regulations as he deems necessary and 
advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. This

[[Page 67139]]

discretion includes authority to prohibit by regulation with respect to 
a threatened species any act prohibited by section 9(a)(1) of the Act. 
At 50 CFR 17.31(a), the Service, by delegation from the Secretary, 
exercised this discretion to extend the take and other prohibitions set 
forth in section 9(a)(1) of the Act to all threatened species. The 
provisions at 50 CFR 17.31(c), however, also provide that the 
prohibitions included at 50 CFR 17.31(a) do not apply if the Service 
promulgates a rule under section 4(d) of the Act tailored to provide 
for the conservation needs of a specific threatened species. Elsewhere 
in today's Federal Register, we propose to issue a rule under section 
4(d) of the Act (``4(d) rule'') that is tailored to the specific 
threats to and conservation needs of the trispot darter. Until a 4(d) 
rule is made final for this species, all prohibitions included at 50 
CFR 17.31(a) apply to the trispot darter.
    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 
1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at 
the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this 
policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a final listing 
on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of a listed 
species. Activities that the Service believes could potentially harm 
the trispot darter and result in ``take'' include, but are not limited 
    (1) Unauthorized handling or collecting of the species;
    (2) Destruction or alteration of the species' habitat by discharge 
of fill material, dredging, snagging, impounding, channelization, or 
modification of natural or artificial wet weather conveyances or 
ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial stream channels or banks;
    (3) Destruction of riparian habitat directly adjacent to natural or 
artificial wet weather conveyances or ephemeral, intermittent, or 
perennial stream channels that causes significant increases in 
sedimentation and destruction of natural stream banks or channels;
    (4) Discharge of pollutants into a natural or artificial wet 
weather conveyances or ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial stream 
channels, or into areas hydrologically connected to a natural or 
artificial wet weather conveyances or ephemeral, intermittent, or 
perennial stream channel occupied by the species;
    (5) Diversion or alteration of surface or ground water flow; and
    (6) Pesticide/herbicide applications in violation of label 
    Questions regarding whether specific activities constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Alabama 
Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Required Determinations

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act, need not be prepared in connection with 
listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the 
Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for 
this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 
(Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with 
Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, 
Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), 
we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with 
tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge 
that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal 
public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make 
information available to tribes. There are no tribal interests affected 
by this rule.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available 
on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the 
Alabama Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES).


    The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the 
Alabama Ecological Services Field Office.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, unless 
otherwise noted.

2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by adding an entry for ``Darter, trispot'' to 
the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical order 
under FISHES to read as set forth below:

Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

                                                                                          Listing citations and
           Common name              Scientific name      Where listed         Status         applicable rules
                                                  * * * * * * *
                                                  * * * * * * *
Darter, trispot.................  Etheostoma          Wherever found....  T              83 FR [insert Federal
                                   trisella.                                              Register page where
                                                                                          the document begins],
                                                  * * * * * * *

[[Page 67140]]

    Dated: October 25, 2018.
James W. Kurth,
Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising the 
Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-27971 Filed 12-27-18; 8:45 am]