[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 228 (Tuesday, November 26, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65080-65098]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-25549]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2019-0026; FXES11130900000C6-156-FF09E30000]
RIN 1018-BD48

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification 
of the Endangered June Sucker to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
reclassify the June sucker (Chasmistes liorus) from endangered to 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), 
due to substantial improvements in the species' overall status since 
its original listing as endangered in 1986. This proposed action is 
based on a thorough review of the best scientific and commercial data 
available, which indicates that the June sucker no longer meets the 
definition of endangered under the Act. If this proposal is finalized, 
the June sucker would remain protected as a threatened species under 
the Act. We also propose a rule under section 4(d) of the Act that 
provides for the conservation of the June sucker. This document also 
constitutes our 5-year status review for this species.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
January 27, 2020. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES below), must be received by 11:59 
p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. We must receive requests for 
public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT by January 10, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Comment submission: You may submit written comments by one 
of the following methods:
     Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: 
http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R6-ES-2019-
0026, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on 
the Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the 
left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the 
Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment 
by clicking on the blue ``Comment Now!'' box. If your comments will fit 
in the provided comment box, please use this feature of http://www.regulations.gov, as it is most compatible with our comment review 
procedures. If you attach your comments as a separate document, our 
preferred file format is Microsoft Word. If you attach multiple 
comments (such as form letters), our preferred format is a spreadsheet 
in Microsoft Excel.
     By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: 
Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2019-0026; U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service; MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-
    We request that you submit written comments only by the methods 
described above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see Public Comments, below for 
more details).
    Document availability: This proposed rule and supporting documents 
are available on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-
2019-0026. In addition, the supporting file for this proposed rule will 
be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours at the Utah Ecological Services Field Office; 2369 Orton 
Circle, Suite 50; West Valley City, Utah 84119, telephone: 801-975-

[[Page 65081]]

3330. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf may call 
the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Crist, Field Supervisor, 
telephone: 801-975-3330. Direct all questions or requests for 
additional information to: JUNE SUCKER QUESTIONS, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service; Utah Ecological Services Field Office; 2369 Orton 
Circle, Suite 50; West Valley City, Utah 84119. Individuals who are 
hearing-impaired or speech-impaired may call the Federal Relay Service 
at 800-877-8337 for TTY assistance.


Public Comments

    We want any final rule resulting from this proposal to be as 
accurate as possible. Therefore, we invite tribal and governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, and other interested 
parties to submit comments or recommendations concerning any aspect of 
this proposed rule. Comments should be as specific as possible. We 
particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Biological or ecological reasons why we should or should not 
reclassify June sucker from endangered to threatened on the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (i.e., ``downlist'' the species) 
under the Act.
    (2) New biological or other relevant data concerning any threat (or 
lack thereof) to this species or any current or planned activities in 
the habitat or range that may impact the species.
    (3) New information on any efforts by the State or other entities 
to protect or otherwise conserve June sucker.
    (4) New information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size or trends of this species.
    (5) Information on activities that may warrant consideration in the 
rule issued under section 4(d) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 
    (a) Whether a provision should be added to the 4(d) rule that 
excepts take of June suckers resulting from educational or outreach 
activities that would benefit the conservation of June sucker.
    (b) Additional provisions or information the Service may wish to 
consider for a 4(d) rule in order to conserve, recover, and manage the 
June sucker.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Please 
note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the 
action under consideration without providing supporting information, 
although noted, may not meet the standard of information required by 
section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which directs 
that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or 
threatened species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best 
scientific and commercial data available.''
    To issue a final rule to implement this proposed action, we will 
take into consideration all comments and any additional information we 
receive. Such communications may lead to a final rule that differs from 
this proposal. All comments, including commenters' names and addresses, 
if provided to us, will become part of the supporting record.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. Comments must be 
submitted to http://www.regulations.gov before 11:59 p.m. (Eastern 
Time) on the date specified in DATES.
    We will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. If you provide 
personal identifying information in your comment, you may request at 
the top of your document that we withhold this information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Utah Ecological Services Field Office. (See FOR FURTHER 

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy, ``Notice of Interagency Cooperative 
Policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act Activities,'' which 
was published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270) and our August 22, 2016, 
Director's Memorandum ``Peer Review Process,'' we will seek the expert 
opinion of at least three appropriate and independent specialists 
regarding scientific data and interpretations contained in this 
proposed rule. We will send copies of this proposed rule to the peer 
reviewers immediately following publication in the Federal Register. We 
will ensure that the opinions of peer reviewers are objective and 
unbiased by following the guidelines set forth in the Director's Memo, 
which updates and clarifies Service policy on peer review (U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service 2016). The purpose of such review is to ensure 
that our decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, 
and analysis. Accordingly, our final decision may differ from this 

Public Hearing

    Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act provides for one or more public 
hearings on this proposed rule, if requested. We must receive requests 
for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT by the date shown in DATES. We will schedule public 
hearings on this proposal, if any are requested, and places of those 
hearings, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the 
Federal Register at least 15 days before the first hearing.

Previous Federal Actions

    On April 12, 1982, the Desert Fishes Council petitioned us to list 
17 fishes, including the June sucker. On December 20, 1982, we included 
the June sucker in a notice of review in the Federal Register (47 FR 
58454). On June 14, 1983, we published our finding that the petition 
from the Desert Fishes Council contained substantial information for us 
to consider the June sucker for listing (48 FR 27273).
    On July 2, 1984, we proposed the June sucker for listing as 
endangered under the Act with proposed critical habitat (49 FR 27183). 
On March 31, 1986 (51 FR 10851), we published the final rule listing 
June sucker as an endangered species and designating critical habit 
comprising the lower 4.9 miles (mi) (7.8 kilometers (km)) of the Provo 
River in Utah County, Utah.
    On June 25, 1999, we finalized a recovery plan for the June sucker 
(Service 1999, entire). On November 13, 2001, we published a notice in 
the Federal Register formally declaring our intention to participate in 
the multi-agency June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program (JSRIP) in 
partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), Utah 
Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission (URMCC), the 
Department of the Interior (DOI), State of Utah Department of Natural 
Resources (UDNR), the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD), 
Provo River Water Users Association, Provo Reservoir Water Users 
Company, and outdoor interest groups (66 FR 56840). The JSRIP was 
designed to implement recovery actions for the endangered June sucker 
and facilitate resolution of conflicts associated with June sucker 
recovery in the Utah Lake and Provo

[[Page 65082]]

River basins in Utah. We have participated in the JSRIP since this time 
and remain an active program member.
    On October 6, 2008, we published a notice of initiation of a 5-year 
review for June sucker in the Federal Register and requested new 
information that could have a bearing on the status of June sucker (73 
FR 58261). This document serves as a completion of that 5-year review.

Species Information

    It is our intent to discuss only those topics directly related to 
downlisting June sucker in this proposed rule. For more information on 
the description, biology, ecology, and habitat of the species, please 
refer to the final listing rule published in the Federal Register on 
March 31, 1986 (51 FR 10851) and the recovery plan (Service 1999). 
These documents will be available as supporting materials on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2019-0026.
    We identify the species' ecological requirements for survival and 
reproduction using the concepts of resiliency, redundancy, and 
representation (the 3Rs). Resiliency is the ability of a species to 
withstand stochastic events. It is associated with population size, 
growth rate, and habitat quality. Redundancy is the ability of a 
species to withstand catastrophic events for which adaptation is 
unlikely. It is associated with the number, distribution, and 
resilience of populations. Representation is the ability of a species 
to adapt to novel changes in its environment, as measured by its 
ecological and genetic diversity. It is associated with the 
distribution of populations of the species across its range.

Taxonomy and Description

    The June sucker, a unique lake sucker named for the month in which 
it was known to spawn, was first collected and described by David S. 
Jordan in 1878, in Utah Lake, Utah County, Utah (Jordan 1878, entire). 
However, taxonomic questions regarding hybridization of the June sucker 
and co-occurring Utah sucker (Catostomus ardens) ultimately resulted in 
reclassification of the species.
    The two species likely evolved together in Utah Lake. During the 
1930s, a severe drought stressed the sucker populations in Utah Lake, 
increasing the incidence of June and Utah sucker hybridization (Miller 
and Smith 1981, p. 7). After this hybridization event, as sucker 
populations increased in abundance, the new genes that occurred in both 
the June sucker and Utah sucker populations resulted in hybrid 
characteristics within both populations (Evans 1997, p. 8). It is 
likely that the two species may have hybridized at multiple points in 
the past, in response to environmental bottlenecks (Evans 1997, pp. 9-
12). As a result of the hybridization event in the 1930s, two 
subspecies of June sucker were originally identified--Chasmistes liorus 
liorus to sucker specimens collected in Utah Lake in the late 1800s, 
and Chasmistes liorus mictus to specimens collected after 1939, 
following the drought years (Miller and Smith 1981, p. 11). This 
classification was never corroborated, and because the June sucker 
maintained its distinctiveness from other lake suckers, we determined 
that it should be listed as a full species under the name Chasmistes 
liorus (51 FR 10851, March 31, 1986).
    The June sucker has a large, robust body, a wide, rounded head, and 
a distinct hump on the snout (Scoppettone and Vinyard 1991, p. 1). 
Adults are 17-24 inches (in) (43.2-61.0 centimeters (cm)) in length 
(Scoppettone and Vinyard 1991, p. 1; Belk 1998, p. 2). Lake suckers are 
mid-water planktivores (plankton feeders). June sucker is a long-lived 
species, living to 40 years or more (Scoppettone and Vinyard 1991, p. 
3; Belk 1998, p. 6). In the wild, June suckers reach reproductive 
maturity at 5 to 10 years of age. They exhibit rapid growth for the 
first 3 to 5 years, with intermediate growth rates between ages 8 to 
10, and a further reduced growth rate after age 10. Growth between 
sexes does not differ within the first 10 years (Scoppettone and 
Vinyard 1991, p. 9).

Distribution and Habitat

    The June sucker is native to Utah Lake and its tributaries, which 
are the primary spawning habitat for the species, and is not found 
outside of its native range except in man-made refuge populations. A 
refuge population was established in Red Butte Reservoir, Salt Lake 
County, Utah, and has been maintained there since 2004 (Utah Division 
of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) 2010, pp. 4-5). The only other population 
of June sucker is maintained at UDNR's Fisheries Experiment Station 
(FES) in Logan, Utah, as part of the JSRIP stocking program to enhance 
the species' population in Utah Lake. The FES also uses ponds at 
Rosebud, Box Elder County, Utah, as a grow-out facility to allow fish 
bred at FES to increase in size prior to stocking in Utah Lake (UDWR 
2018, entire). Refuge populations have aided in retaining ecologic and 
genetic diversity in June sucker, which in turn aids the species in 
adapting to changing environmental conditions (i.e., increases 
    Utah Lake is a remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville, and is one of 
the largest natural freshwater lakes in the western United States. It 
covers an area of approximately 150 square miles (mi\2\) (400 square 
kilometers (km\2\)) and is relatively shallow, averaging 9 feet (ft) 
(2.7 meters (m)) in depth. The lake lies west of Provo, Utah, and is 
the terminus for several rivers and creeks, including the Provo, 
Spanish Fork, and American Fork Rivers and Hobble and Battle Creeks. 
The outflow of Utah Lake is the Jordan River, which flows north into 
the Great Salt Lake, a terminal basin.
    Utah Lake is located in a sedimentary drainage basin dominated by 
erosive soils with high salt concentrations. Available geologic data 
indicate that Utah Lake had a sediment filling rate of about 0.03 in (1 
millimeter (mm)) per year over the past 10,000 years; this rate more 
than doubled with the urbanization of Utah Valley (Brimhall and Merritt 
1981, pp. 3-5). Faults under the lake appear to be lowering the lake 
bed at about the same rate as sediment is filling it (Brimhall and 
Merritt 1981, pp. 10-11). Inputs of nutrient-rich sediments combined 
with the lake's high evaporation rate cause high levels of sediment 
loading, high soluble salt concentrations, and high nutrient levels as 
a baseline condition (Brimhall and Merritt 1981, p. 11).
    Shallow lakes, such as Utah Lake, are typically characterized as 
having one of two ecological states: A clear water state or a turbid 
water state (Scheffer 1998, p. 10). The clear water state is often 
dominated by rooted aquatic macrophytes (aquatic plants) that can 
greatly reduce turbidity by securing bottom sediments (Carpenter and 
Lodge 1986, p. 4; Madsen et al. 2001, p. 6) and preventing excessive 
phytoplankton (algae) production through a suite of mechanisms (Timms 
and Moss 1984, pp. 3-5). Alternatively, a shallow lake in a turbid 
water state contains little or no aquatic vegetation to secure bottom 
sediments (Madsen et al. 2001, p. 9). As a result, fish movement and 
wave action can easily suspend lake-bottom sediments (Madsen et al. 
2001, p. 9). In addition, fish can promote algal production by 
recycling nutrients (both through feeding activity and excretion). Fish 
can also suppress zooplankton densities through predation, and the 
zooplankton would otherwise suppress algal abundance (Timms and Moss 
1984, p. 11; Brett and Goldman 1996, p. 3).
    Historically, Utah Lake existed in a clear water state dominated by 

[[Page 65083]]

aquatic vegetation, as shown in sediment cores extracted from Utah Lake 
(Macharia and Power 2011, p. 3). This clear water state is a habitat 
characteristic necessary to improve resiliency of June sucker. Sediment 
cores reveal a shift in the state of the lake shortly after European 
settlement of Utah Valley to an algae-dominated, turbid condition, 
lacking macrophytic vegetation that serves as refugial habitat for June 
sucker (Brimhill and Merritt 1981, p. 16; Scheffer 1998, p. 6; Hickman 
and Thurin 2007, p. 8; Macharia and Power 2011, p. 5). This shift is 
believed to be a result of excessive nutrient input, management-induced 
fluctuations in lake levels, and the introduction of common carp 
(Cyprinus carpio). The end result of compounded natural and human-
caused effects is a present-day lake ecosystem that is dominated by 
algae, rather than the clear water state in which June sucker evolved.
    The extent of ideal riverine habitat available for spawning adults 
and developing larval June sucker was more abundant historically than 
it is currently. Prior to settlement of Utah Valley, spawning 
tributaries, such as the Provo, Spanish Fork, and American Fork Rivers 
and Hobble Creek, contained large deltas with braided, slow, meandering 
channels and aquatic vegetation that provided suitable spawning and 
larval rearing habitat (Olsen et al. 2002, p. 4). Multiple spawning 
tributaries provided redundancy for June sucker. The range of diverse 
habitats historically present within these tributaries was essential to 
larval sucker survival and maintaining the species' resiliency. Most 
importantly, slow water pool and marsh habitats provided refuge from 
predation by larger fishes.
    Since settlement, changes to the tributaries have decreased the 
available habitat for June sucker spawning and rearing, although recent 
restoration projects have improved conditions in the Provo River and 
Hobble Creek. The Provo River contains many natural characteristics 
that support the majority of the June sucker spawning run and also play 
an important role in contributing to the recovery of the species. The 
Provo River is the largest tributary to the lake in terms of annual 
flow, width, and watershed area (Stamp et al. 2002, p. 19). All of 
these characteristics contribute to higher numbers of spawning June 
sucker using the Provo River than the other Utah Lake tributaries. 
These characteristics also best support the proper timing of the June 
sucker spawning period and help protect against further hybridization 
with Utah sucker. Continued increase and improvement of available 
spawning and larval rearing habitat in the Provo River is necessary for 
recovery of the species.

Biology and Ecology

    June suckers are highly mobile and can cover large portions of 
their range in a short period of time (Radant and Sakaguchi 1981, p. 7; 
Buelow 2006, p. 4; Landom et al. 2006, p. 13). Adult June suckers 
exhibit lake-wide distributional behavior throughout most of the year 
(Buelow 2006). However, in the fall, June suckers congregate along the 
western lakeshore, and in the winter, move to the eastern areas. One 
explanation for the easterly orientation in the winter may be the 
presence of relatively warm fresh-water springs along the eastern shore 
of Utah Lake (SWCA 2002, p. 14).
    During pre-spawn staging, in April and May, June suckers congregate 
in large numbers near the mouths of the Provo River, Hobble Creek, 
Spanish Fork River, and American Fork River (Radant and Hickman 1984, 
p. 3; Buelow et al. 2006, p. 4; Hines 2011, p. 8). June suckers 
generally initiate a spawning migration into Utah Lake tributaries 
(primarily the Provo River, but also Hobble Creek and, to a lesser 
extent Spanish Fork River and American Fork River) during the second 
and third weeks of May (Radant and Hickman 1984, p. 7). Provo Bay is 
likely one of their primary pre-spawn and post-spawn congregation areas 
(Buelow 2006, p. 4).
    Most spawning is completed within 5-8 days. Post-spawning suckers 
congregate near the mouth of Provo Bay, which could be a response to 
the high food productivity that remains in the bay until the fall 
(Radant and Shirley 1987, p. 13; Buelow 2006, p. 8). Zooplankton 
densities are greater in Provo Bay than in other lake areas (Kreitzer 
et al. 2011, p. 9), providing abundant food to meet the energy demands 
of post-spawn suckers, as well as an ideal location for the growth and 
survival of young-of-year June suckers recently emerged from the 
spawning tributaries (Kreitzer et al. 2011, p. 10).
    June sucker spawning habitat consists of moderately deep runs and 
riffles in slow to moderate current with a substrate composed of 4-8 in 
(100-200 mm) coarse gravel or small cobble that is free of silt and 
algae. Deeper pools adjacent to spawning areas may provide important 
resting or staging areas (Stamp et al. 2002, p. 5).
    Under natural conditions, June sucker larvae drift downstream and 
rear in shallow vegetated habitats near tributary mouths in Utah Lake 
(Modde and Muirhead 1990, pp. 7-8; Crowl and Thomas 1997, p. 11; 
Keleher et al. 1998, p. 47). Juvenile June suckers then migrate into 
Utah Lake and use littoral aquatic vegetation as cover and refuge 
(Crowl and Thomas 1997, p. 11). June sucker juveniles form schools near 
the water surface, presumably feeding on zooplankton in the shallows. 
Young-of-year suckers form shoals (aggregations of hundreds of fish) 
near the surface under the cover of aquatic vegetation (Billman 2008, 
p. 3).
    However, effects from nonnative common carp, altered tributary 
flows, lake water level management, nutrient loading, poor water 
quality, and river channelization have reduced the amount of shallow, 
warm, and complex vegetated aquatic habitat for rearing at the 
tributary mouths and Utah Lake interface. This reduction in rearing 
habitat has reduced survival of June suckers during the early life 
stages (Modde and Muirhead 1990, p. 9; Olsen et al. 2002, p. 6). As 
June suckers reach the subadult stage, they begin to move offshore 
(Billman 2005, p. 16).

Species Abundance and Trends

    Early accounts indicate that Utah Lake supported an enormous 
population of June sucker (Heckmann et al. 1981, p. 8), and was 
proclaimed ``the greatest sucker pond in the universe'' (Jordan 1878, 
p. 2). The first major reductions in the number of June suckers were in 
the late 1800s. Through the mid-1800s, June suckers were caught during 
their spawning runs and were widely used as fertilizer and food (Carter 
1969, p. 7). During this period, an estimated 1,653 tons (1,500 metric 
tons) of spawning suckers were killed when 2.1 mi (3.3 km) of the Provo 
River was dewatered due to reduced water availability and high demand 
(Carter 1969, p. 8).
    Hundreds of tons of suckers also died when Utah Lake was nearly 
emptied during a 1932-1935 drought (Tanner 1936, p. 3). After the 
drought, June sucker populations gradually increased, but due to the 
combined impacts of drought, overexploitation, and habitat destruction, 
the population did not return to its historical level (Heckmann et al. 
1981, p. 9). June suckers were rare in monitoring surveys during the 
1950s through the 1970s (Heckmann et al. 1981, p. 11; Radant and 
Sakaguchi 1981, p. 5).
    By the time the species was listed under the Act in 1986, the June 
sucker had an estimated wild spawning population of fewer than 1,000 
individuals. In 1999, we estimated the wild spawning population to be 
approximately 300 individuals, with no

[[Page 65084]]

evidence of wild recruitment (Keleher et al. 1998, pp. 12, 53; Service 
1999, p. 5).
    Due to the immediate threat of June sucker extinction at the time 
of listing, the UDWR began raising populations in hatcheries and at 
secure refuge sites. These efforts resulted in the stocking of June 
sucker into Utah Lake to boost population numbers beginning in the 
1990s and continuing through the present day (UDWR 2018b, p. 3). As of 
2017, more than 800,000 captive-bred June suckers have been stocked in 
Utah Lake (UDWR 2017b, p. 6). The vast majority of fish detected 
spawning in Utah Lake tributaries are stocked fish that have become 
naturalized (UDWR 2018c, p. 7).
    An estimated 3,500 June suckers, most of them stocked fish, were 
spawning annually in Utah Lake tributaries as of 2016 (Conner and 
Landom 2018, p. 2).This represents a ten-fold increase in spawning fish 
from when the recovery plan was finalized in 1999 (Conner and Landom 
2018, p. 2). For all spawning tributaries combined, the spawning 
population size for both sexes substantially increased from 2008 to 
2016. The estimated total population size grew by 22 percent. However, 
this estimate may be low, as monitoring efforts in tributaries were not 
consistent across all years, and data were not available for one year 
due to high flows. We do not have a population estimate for the entire 
June sucker population in Utah Lake.
    Additionally, monitoring of June suckers in the lower Provo River 
during the 2018 spawning period captured a significant portion of fish 
that were not PIT tagged (2018 UDWR, p. 3). It is unclear if these 
untagged fish were the result of wild recruitment or of hatchery 
origin. The natural geochemical markers (signatures) in the otoliths 
(ear bones) and fin rays of collected, unmarked June suckers show that 
39 percent (12 of 31) of these fish likely originated from the FES 
hatchery, 42 percent from Red Butte Reservoir, other rearing 
facilities, or inconclusive; and 19 percent (6 of 31) had signatures 
indicating they originated in Utah Lake (Wolff and Johnson 2013, p. 9), 
meaning they were likely recruited naturally into Utah Lake. These 
results suggest that successful natural reproduction and recruitment is 
occurring, although the exact location and conditions that contributed 
to this successful natural recruitment are not known. Additional 
analysis of June suckers of unknown origin is planned in 2019, to 
determine the level of natural recruitment occurring in Utah Lake. 
Regardless of origin, capture of untagged fish indicates there is an 
unknown number of spawning June suckers that were not accounted for in 
the spawning population estimate.
    The year-to-year survival rate of fish stocked into Utah Lake 
varies significantly depending on a number of factors including length 
of fish at stock (which correlates to age) and time of year stocked 
(Goldsmith et al. 2016, p. 5). June suckers stocked in early summer 
that were 11.6 in (296 mm) in length or more (usually representing an 
individual that was 2 years old) had a survival rate of 83 percent. 
June suckers stocked at age one had survival rates ranging from zero to 
67 percent. The smallest June suckers, those stocked at under 7.9 in 
(200 mm), had a survival rate into the next year of only two percent 
(Goldsmith et al. 2016, p. 14).
    Year-to-year survival rates for spawning June suckers ranged from 
65 to 95 percent depending on the tributary and the year (Goldsmith et 
al. 2016, p. 3). Additionally, June suckers that were stocked more than 
10 years prior were detected spawning on multiple occasions, indicating 
the capability for long-term survival in Utah Lake (Conner and Landom 
2018, p. 3). Between 2013 and 2016, June sucker showed a positive 
population trend with a combined annual growth rate of 1.06 for females 
and 1.04 for males across three tributaries (Provo River, Spanish Fork, 
and Hobble Creek), with Provo River having the highest population 
growth rate and Hobble Creek showing an overall decline (Conner and 
Landom 2018, p. 3). However, as nearly 50 percent of spawning June 
sucker detected in Hobble Creek were of unknown origin, a decline in 
detected spawners in this tributary does not necessarily mean fewer 
fish overall are using the tributary, because naturally recruited fish 
that have never been tagged would not be detected by the remote 
electronic methods used to collect June sucker presence information at 
spawning locations.
    In summary, the viability of June sucker in its native range--as 
indicated by its representation, resiliency, and redundancy--has 
improved significantly since the time of listing, largely due to the 
efforts of the JSRIP (see Recovery). Stocking of June sucker, a program 
designed to maximize representation through genetic diversity, has been 
very successful at increasing the number of fish in Utah Lake. Stocked 
individuals are behaving as wild fish by migrating to new habitats, 
surviving many years, and participating in spawning activities. The 
JSRIP stocking program is planned to continue until the June sucker 
reaches self-sustaining population levels, with a focus on stocking 2-
year-old fish over 12 in (300 mm) long to increase their chances of 
survival. The spawning population has increased at least ten-fold since 
1999; there is evidence of high year-to-year survival rates and long-
term survival for spawning individuals; and the spawning population is 
increasing at a high rate, improving the resiliency of the wild 
population. The stocking program and maintenance of refuge populations 
both at Red Butte reservoir and FES also provided redundancy to the 
wild populations. Moving forward, a planned origin study using fin-rays 
is meant to improve our understanding of the degree of natural 
recruitment of June sucker in Utah Lake, which will yield more accurate 
population estimates and inform future stocking rates and management 
decisions for the purposes of further bolstering the species' 
representation, resiliency, and redundancy to achieve full recovery.


    Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement 
recovery plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and 
threatened species unless we determine that such a plan will not 
promote the conservation of the species. Under section 4(f)(1)(B)(ii), 
recovery plans must, to the maximum extent practicable, include 
``objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a 
determination, in accordance with the provisions [of section 4 of the 
Act], that the species be removed from the list.'' Recovery plans 
provide a roadmap for full recovery success to the Service, States, and 
other partners on methods of enhancing conservation and minimizing 
threats to listed species, as well as measurable criteria against which 
to evaluate progress towards recovery and assess the species' likely 
future condition. However, they are not regulatory documents and do not 
substitute for the determinations and promulgation of regulations 
required under section 4(a)(1) of the Act.
    There are many paths to accomplishing recovery of a species, and 
recovery may be achieved without all of the criteria in a recovery plan 
being fully met. For example, one or more criteria may be exceeded 
while other criteria may not yet be accomplished. In that instance, we 
may determine that the threats are minimized sufficiently and the 
species is robust enough such that it no longer meets the definition of 
endangered or threatened. In other cases, recovery opportunities may be 
discovered that were not known when the recovery plan

[[Page 65085]]

was finalized. These opportunities may be used instead of methods 
identified in the recovery plan. Likewise, information on the species 
may be learned that was not known at the time the recovery plan was 
finalized. The new information may change the extent to which existing 
criteria are appropriate for identifying recovery of the species. 
Recovery of a species is a dynamic process requiring adaptive 
management that may, or may not, follow all of the guidance provided in 
a recovery plan.
    We finalized a recovery plan for June sucker in 1999, which 
included recovery actions and recovery criteria for downlisting and 
delisting of June sucker. These criteria lack specific metrics and may 
require updating. However, they are still relevant to the evaluation of 
recovery, and we discuss them in this document as one way to evaluate 
the change in status of June sucker.
    Since 2002, the JSRIP has funded, implemented, and overseen 
recovery actions for the conservation of June sucker in accordance with 
the guidance provided by the recovery plan, including using adaptive 
management techniques to address new stressors as they arose. These 
recovery actions include: (1) Acquiring and managing water flows, (2) 
restoring habitat, (3) removing carp, and (4) augmenting the wild June 
sucker population. These efforts, and how they relate to the recovery 
criteria, are described in the following paragraphs.

Acquisition and Management of Water Flows

    The first downlisting criterion requires that Provo River flows 
essential for June sucker spawning and recruitment are protected 
(Service 2011, p. 5). We do not have enough information to determine 
the exact flow level required for June sucker spawning and recruitment. 
However, the JSRIP provides annual recommendations for June sucker on 
the Provo River and Hobble Creek based on the known biology of the 
species and the historical flow levels to the CUWCD and other water-
managing bodies. These recommendations are currently supported by 
several reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act performed 
for their most recent restoration projects (Hobble Creek in 2016 and 
Provo River in 2015). The JSRIP has also acquired water totaling over 
21,000 acre-ft (25,903,080 cubic m (m\3\)) per year to enhance flows 
during the spawning season on the Provo River and to supplement base 
flows through the summer for the benefit of larval June sucker. 
Approximately 13,000 acre-ft (16,035,240 m\3\) of this water is 
permanently allocated, and the remainder is allocated through 2021. The 
JSRIP is pursuing additional water, permanent and temporary, to bolster 
June sucker allocations after 2021 (JSRIP 2018, p. 5). Additionally, 
the JSRIP has acquired 8,500 acre-ft (10,485,000 m\3\) of permanent 
water for Hobble Creek (USBR 2017, pp. 3-5). These protected water 
sources, when delivered as additional water, provide added resiliency 
by improving habitat quality for the species.
    The amount of water delivered to supplement flows in the Provo 
River and Hobble Creek and the timing of those deliveries is determined 
annually through a cooperative process involving multiple agencies. In 
1996, the June Sucker Flow Work Group was formed by the USBR, DOI 
Central Utah Project Completion Act (CUPCA) Office, Provo River Water 
Users Association, Provo River Water Commissioner, CUWCD, UDWR, the 
Service, Provo City Public Works, and the URMCC. These agencies 
initially worked together to adjust reservoir releases to mimic a Provo 
River spring runoff hydrograph and improve June sucker spawning 
success. Since 2002, this process has been overseen by the JSRIP.
    As recovery-specific water was acquired, the role of this work 
group has expanded to provide a forum for determining the optimal 
delivery pattern of supplemental flows. Based on existing conditions 
for a given year (e.g., snow pack and reservoir storage), the multi-
disciplinary work group uses operational flexibility for reservoir 
water delivery and runoff timing to evaluate and operate the system to 
deliver year-round flows to benefit June sucker recovery. Based on the 
meetings of the Flow Work Group, the JSRIP makes an annual 
recommendation for flow deliveries to the Provo River and Hobble Creek, 
adjusted for the available water conditions. Water managers (including 
USBR, CUPCA, Provo River Water Users Association, the Provo River Water 
Commissioner, CUWCD, and Provo City Public Works) then work to deliver 
water to meet that specific annual recommendation and have been 
successful in meeting the hydrograph scenarios agreed to by the Flow 
Work Group on an annual basis since 2004.
    In 2004, the CUWCD, in cooperation with the Service and other 
members of the Flow Work Group, agreed on operational scenarios that 
mimic dry, moderate, and wet year flow patterns for the Provo River 
(CUWCD et al. 2004, p. 17). The Flow Work Group applied these 
operational scenarios in determining the spawning season flow pattern 
for the Provo River with the goal of benefiting June sucker recovery. 
In 2008, an ecosystem-based flow regime recommendation was finalized 
for the lower Provo River, based on available site-specific information 
(Stamp et al. 2008, p. 13). This year-round flow recommendation refined 
the operational scenarios identified in 2004 through the incorporation 
of relevant ecological functions into the in-stream flow analysis. 
Hydrologic variability, geomorphology, water quality, aquatic biology, 
and riparian biology were considered as aspects of flow 
recommendations, which were adjusted in consideration of these 
functions. The year-round flow recommendations are adaptive, with 
consideration of the variability within and among each water year. 
These include recommendations for a baseline flow, a spring runoff 
flow, and the duration of the rising and receding flow periods before 
and after runoff. As more is learned about the associations between 
flow and river functions, the recommendations can be adjusted (Stamp et 
al. 2008, p. 10).
    In 2009, ecosystem-based flow recommendations were developed for 
Hobble Creek in the Lower Hobble Creek Ecosystem Flow Recommendations 
Report (Stamp et al. 2009, pp. 11-12). These recommendations were 
adopted by the JSRIP, included in the East Hobble Creek Restoration 
project Environmental Analysis (JSRIP 2009, p. 5), and are currently 
considered each year by April in determining the annual recommendations 
for delivery of flows to Hobble Creek (DOI et al. 2013, p. 41). Similar 
to the Provo River, these recommendations are intended to be adaptive.

Habitat Restoration

    The second downlisting criterion for June sucker requires that 
habitat in the Provo River and Utah Lake be enhanced or established to 
provide for the continued existence of all life stages (Service 1999, 
p. 4). Habitat restoration projects have taken place both on the Provo 
River and Hobble Creek, and habitat quality has also been enhanced in 
Utah Lake as a result of nonnative species removal (see Common Carp, 
    Modifications of the Fort Field diversion structure on the Provo 
River, located within critical habitat, were completed in October 2009. 
This modification made an additional 1.2 mi (1.9 km) of spawning 
habitat available for the June sucker, permitting fish passage further 
upstream in their historical range (URMCC 2009, pp. 8-9; JSRIP 2008, p. 
12). During the 2010

[[Page 65086]]

spawning season, June sucker were observed in the Provo River upstream 
of the modified Fort Field Diversion structure (UDWR 2011, pp. 7-8). In 
cooperation with the JSRIP, the CUWCD and URMCC are working with other 
diverters on the Provo River to evaluate further diversion structure 
removal or modification.
    The JSRIP is also implementing a large-scale stream channel and 
delta restoration project for the lower Provo River and particularly 
its interface with Utah Lake to restore, enhance, and create habitat 
conditions in the lower Provo River for spawning, hatching, larval 
transport, rearing, and recruitment of the June sucker to the adult 
life stage, increasing the species' resiliency (Olson et al. 2002, p. 
15; BIO-WEST 2010, p. 3). The Provo River Delta Restoration Project 
(PRDRP) will reestablish some of the historical delta conditions in the 
Provo River, thereby increasing habitat complexity and providing 
appropriate physical and biological conditions necessary for egg 
hatching, larval development, growth, young-of-year survival, and 
recruitment of young fish into the adult population. A Final 
Environmental Impact Statement for the PRDRP was released in April 
2015, with a Record of Decision signed in May 2015. Federal agencies 
are currently acquiring lands needed for the PRDRP and developing a 
detailed design to provide optimal rearing habitat for June sucker 
(PRDRP 2017, entire).
    Shortly after formation of the JSRIP, and based on delisting 
criteria identified in the 1999 June Sucker Recovery Plan (Service 
1999, pp. 5-6), several Utah Lake tributaries were evaluated for the 
purpose of establishing a second spawning run of June sucker in 
addition to the Provo River spawning run (Stamp et al. 2002, p. 13). An 
additional spawning run would improve redundancy for the species by 
providing security in the event that a catastrophic event eliminated 
the Provo River spawning population. The study concluded that Hobble 
Creek provided the best opportunity, but would require habitat 
enhancements to make it suitable for June sucker spawning and allow for 
the development of quality rearing habitat for young suckers (Stamp et 
al. 2002, p. 13).
    In 2008, the lower 0.5 mi (0.8 km) of Hobble Creek was relocated 
and reconstructed on land purchased by the JSRIP to provide June sucker 
spawning habitat, a more naturally functioning stream channel, and 
suitable nursery habitat for young suckers. The JSRIP partnered with 
the Utah Transit Authority to implement the habitat restoration project 
on the purchased property (DOI 2008, p. 14). The project re-created a 
functioning delta at the interface between Hobble Creek and Utah Lake 
and allowed the reestablishment of a June sucker spawning run. The 
restoration design results in more active river processes and includes 
numerous seasonally inundated off-channel ponds, which serve as larval 
nursery and rearing habitat to increase larval fish growth and survival 
(DOI 2008, p. 22).
    In 2009, June suckers were documented spawning in the restored 
Hobble Creek, with verified larval production (Landom and Crowl 2010, 
pp. 1-12), and in 2010, juvenile June sucker (from 2009 spawning) were 
collected with seines in ponds within the Hobble Creek restoration area 
(Landress 2011, p. 4). Due to the success of the restoration, 
additional reaches of Hobble Creek have been selected for habitat 
enhancements to increase the amount of available spawning habitat. For 
example, directly upstream of the lower Hobble Creek restoration area, 
the East Hobble Creek Restoration Project was completed to enhance the 
stream channel by increasing sinuosity and floodplain connectivity, 
modify or remove diversion structures, and provide additional stream 
flows for Hobble Creek (JSRIP 2016b, p. 17). An age-1 June sucker was 
observed in this area in January 2018, indicating that June sucker are 
using this area for rearing (Fonken 2018, pers. comm.).

Carp Removal

    The third downlisting criterion requires that nonnative species 
that present a significant threat to the continued existence of June 
sucker are reduced or eliminated from Utah Lake. Common carp was 
identified as the nonnative species having the greatest adverse impact 
on June sucker habitat and resiliency, due to the large scale changes 
in water quality and macrophytic vegetation caused by carp introduction 
(see Distribution and Habitat, above).
    In 2009, a mechanical removal program was instituted to remove 
common carp from Utah Lake. Between 2009 and 2017, over 13,000 tons 
(11,750 metric tons) of common carp were removed from the lake (UDWR 
2017c, p. 2). This removal resulted in a decline of the common carp 
population. Catch-per-unit effort of common carp has decreased over the 
past 4 years, while average weight of individual common carp has 
increased, thus indicating a trend of reduction in common carp density 
in Utah Lake (Gaeta and Landom 2017, p. 7).
    In 2015, after 6 years of common carp removal, native macrophytes 
were observed in Utah Lake vegetation monitoring studies for the first 
time (Landom 2016, pers. comm.). As of 2017, multiple sites in the lake 
have native littoral vegetation, including sites with increasing 
complexity supporting more than four native macrophytic species at one 
site (Dillingham 2018, entire). Sites with more complex vegetation 
support a higher diversity of macroinvertebrates, which provide 
additional food for June sucker, provide greater opportunities for June 
sucker to shelter from predators, and indicate improved water quality 
in the lake (Dillingham 2018, entire).
    The common carp removal program in Utah Lake has had a positive 
impact on habitat quality, which may be contributing to natural 
recruitment and survival rates for June sucker (Gaeta and Landom 2017, 
p. 8; see Species Abundance and Trends). Ongoing research by Utah State 
University is continuing to assess the relationship between common carp 
removal, habitat improvement, and June sucker population response as 
well as develop long-term recommendations for sustainable common carp 
management (Gaeta et al. 2018, entire). The JSRIP is prioritizing 
continued suppression of the common carp population via mechanical 
removal, as well as research into genetically modified sterile (YY) 
male technology that has the potential to reduce or eliminate carp from 
Utah Lake in the future (JSRIP 2018, p. 2).

Population Augmentation

    The fourth and final downlisting criterion in the June sucker 
recovery plan is that an increasing self-sustaining spawning run of 
wild June sucker resulting in significant recruitment over 10 years has 
been reestablished in the Provo River. This criterion does not define 
``significant'' recruitment. Although the spawning population of June 
sucker is increasing, annual stocking continues in order to support the 
population. The augmentation plan for the June sucker set a goal, for 
the purposes of meeting the recovery criterion of a self-sustaining 
population, of stocking 2.8 million individuals into Utah Lake (Service 
and URMCC 1998, entire). The goal was based on early studies of June 
sucker survival and the production capabilities of the facilities. As 
of 2017, more than 800,000 captive-bred June sucker have been stocked 
in Utah Lake from the various rearing locations, and a long-term, 
continued stocking strategy based on the most up-to-date research on 
stocking success and

[[Page 65087]]

survival rates is under development (JSRIP 2008, p. 8; UDWR 2017b, p. 
    Although the June sucker has not met this downlisting criterion 
identified in the 1999 recovery plan, we find that the population 
increases and trends achieved thus far (see Species Abundance and 
Trends), with the addition of refuge populations to increase redundancy 
and genetic representation, will help prevent the species becoming 
endangered or extinct due to catastrophic stochastic events and provide 
a more realistic metric for downlisting eligibility.
    Overall, recovery actions have addressed many of the threats and 
stressors affecting June sucker. The JSRIP has been effective in 
collaborating to implement a stocking program, increase June sucker 
spawning locations, acquire and manage water flows, remove nonnative 
common carp, and develop and conduct habitat restorations that target 
all life stages of June sucker. Studies are planned to improve 
understanding of the effects of other threats and stressors, including 
lake water quality and the impact of other invasive species on the June 
sucker. The JSRIP continues to be active and committed to full recovery 
of the June sucker.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 
424) set forth the procedures for listing species, reclassifying 
species, or removing species from listed status. ``Species'' is defined 
by the Act as including any species or subspecies of fish or wildlife 
or plants, and any distinct vertebrate population segment of fish or 
wildlife that interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). A species 
may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one 
or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: 
(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 must consider these same five factors in downlisting a species. 
We may downlist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best 
available scientific and commercial data indicate that the species no 
longer meets the definition of an endangered species, but that it meets 
the definition of a threatened species.
    For the purposes of this analysis, we evaluate whether or not June 
sucker meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species, 
based on the best scientific and commercial information available. 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.
    In our determination, we correlate the threats acting on the 
species to the factors in section 4(a)(1) of the Act.
    The following analysis examines the five factors currently 
affecting June sucker or that are likely to affect it within the 
foreseeable future. For each factor, we examine the threats at the time 
of listing in 1986 (or if not present at the time of listing, the 
status of the threat when first detected), the downlisting criterion 
pertinent to the threat, what conservation actions have been taken to 
meet the downlisting criteria or otherwise mitigate the threat, the 
current status of the threat, and its likely future impact on June 
sucker. We also consider stressors not originally considered at the 
time of listing, most notably climate change.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    Loss and alteration of spawning and rearing habitat were major 
factors leading to the listing of the June sucker (51 FR 10851, March 
31, 1986) and continue to threaten the species' overall resiliency and 
its recovery. Suitable spawning and rearing habitat in Utah Lake and 
its tributaries has declined due to water development, habitat 
modification, introduction of common carp, nutrient loading, and 
Water Development and Habitat Modification
    Water development and substantial habitat modifications have 
occurred in the Utah Lake drainage since the mid-1800s. These include 
the reduction in riverine flows (including the Provo River) from 
numerous water diversions, various water storage projects, 
channelization, and additional lake and in-stream alterations (Radant 
et al. 1987, p. 13; UDWR and UDNR 1997, p. 11; Andersen et al. 2007, p. 
8). Many of these modifications and water depletions remain today, and 
continue to hinder the quantity and quality of June sucker rearing and 
spawning habitat, which in turn impacts species resiliency.
    In 1849, settlers founded Fort Utah along the Provo River and began 
modifying the waters of Utah Lake and its main tributaries (USBR 1989, 
p. 3). In 1872, a low dam was placed across the lake outflow to the 
Jordan River, changing the function of Utah Lake into a storage 
reservoir (CUWCD 2004, p. 2). By the early 1900s, a pumping plant was 
constructed at the outflow to allow the lake to be lowered below the 
outlet elevation; this structure has since been modified and enlarged 
(Andersen et al. 2007, p. 5). The present capacity of the pumping plant 
is 1,050 cubic feet per second (cfs) (29.7 cubic meters per second 
(cms)), and it can lower the lake level 8-10 ft (2.4-3.0 m) below the 
compromise elevation of 4,489 ft (1,368 m) (Andersen et al. 2007, p. 
5). The compromise elevation is a managed lake elevation target that 
the interested water authorities have agreed not to exceed

[[Page 65088]]

through the active storage of water. This compromise elevation was 
intended to balance the threat of flooding among lands adjacent to Utah 
Lake and those downstream along the Jordan River (CUWCD 2004, p. 7).
    As a storage reservoir, the surface elevation of Utah Lake 
fluctuates widely. Prior to the influence of water development 
projects, annual fluctuations averaged 2.1 ft (0.6 m) per year. For 
approximately 50 years, under the influence of water development 
projects, water levels fluctuated an average of 3.5 ft (1.0 m) annually 
prior to the completion of the Central Utah Project. After its 
completion, annual lake fluctuations averaged 2.5 ft (0.8 m) (Hickman 
and Thurin 2007, p. 20). Fluctuation in surface elevation is one of the 
possible factors contributing to the marked degradation of shoreline 
habitat and aquatic vegetation in the lake and may contribute to a 
decline in June sucker refugial habitat from predators (Hickman and 
Thurin 2007, p. 23).
    The long history of water management in the Provo River, including 
river alterations, dredging, and channelization efforts, have modified 
the historical braided and complex delta into a single trapezoidal 
channel (Radant et al. 1987, p. 15; Olsen et al. 2002, p. 11). The 
current channel lacks vegetative cover, habitat complexity, and the 
food sources necessary to sustain larval fishes rearing in the lower 
Provo River (Stamp et al. 2008, p. 20). Additionally, the lower 2 mi 
(3.2 km) of the Provo River experiences a back-water effect, where the 
velocity stalls under low-flow scenarios and a high seasonal lake level 
causes the water to back up from the lake into the Provo River (Stamp 
et al. 2008, p. 20). The slack-water substantially reduces the number 
of larvae drifting into the lake; as a result, the larvae, with poorly 
developed swimming abilities, either starve or are consumed by 
predators in this lower stretch of river (Ellsworth et al. 2010, p. 9). 
Because of the extensive modification of the lower Provo River, in the 
past June sucker larvae have not survived longer than 20 days after 
hatching (Ellsworth et al. 2010, pp. 9-10). The upcoming PRDRP is 
designed to increase survival of larvae by providing additional rearing 
habitat along the Provo (PRDRP 2017, entire).
    Similar to the Provo River, Hobble Creek and other tributaries of 
significance (Spanish Fork River and American Fork River), have been 
extensively modified by human activities. The hydrological regimes have 
been altered by multiple dams and diversions, and the stream channels 
have been straightened and dredged into incised trapezoidal canals 
(Stamp et al. 2002, p. 5). As a result, the streams are isolated from 
their historical floodplains and have modified flow velocities and 
pool-riffle sequences (Stamp et al. 2002, p. 6). Until recent 
restoration efforts, the Hobble Creek channel had almost no gradient 
and ended without a defined connection to the lake interface in Provo 
Bay due to diversion structures and dredging. In the past, the channel 
was blocked by debris accumulation that created barriers to fish 
migration, preventing adult June sucker access to the main stem of 
Hobble Creek.
    Located south of Provo Bay, the Spanish Fork River is the second 
largest stream inflow to Utah Lake, but the majority of the discharge 
is diverted during the irrigation season (June-September) (Psomas 2007, 
p. 12). While adult and larval June sucker occur in the Spanish Fork 
River (UDWR 2006, p. 2; 2007, p. 2; 2008a, p. 3; 2009a, p. 4; and 
2010b, p. 2), the seasonally inadequate flows, poor June sucker rearing 
habitat at the Utah Lake interface, low water clarity, diversion 
structures, and miles of levees along the channel are obstacles to 
successful recruitment (Stamp et al. 2002, p. 5). Adult spawning 
habitat is limited to the lower 2.7 mi (4.3 km) of the Spanish Fork 
River, where it is of poor quality. Other tributaries where spawning 
may occur under favorable conditions include the American Fork River 
and Battle Creek, but streamflow to Utah Lake in these tributaries is 
not available most years; therefore, they are not believed to comprise 
a significant portion of June sucker spawning habitat.
    Recovery actions for the June sucker to address impacts from water 
development and habitat modification have included water acquisition, 
water flow management, and habitat restoration (see Recovery). The 
availability of quality spawning habitat will improve species 
resiliency, and multiple spawning tributaries will improve species 
redundancy. The positive trend in spawning population numbers, 
increased number of June suckers, and observations of young-of-year and 
age-1 June sucker in the wild indicate that water acquisition, water 
flow management, and habitat restoration have had a positive impact on 
June sucker reproduction (JSRIP 2018, p. 1; see Species Abundance and 
Introduction of Common Carp
    Historically, Utah Lake had a rich array of rooted aquatic 
vegetation, which provided nursery and rearing habitat for young June 
sucker (Heckmann et al. 1981, p. 2; Ellsworth et al. 2010, p. 9). 
However, with the introduction of common carp around the 1880s (Sigler 
and Sigler 1996, pp. 5-6), this refugial habitat largely disappeared. 
Common carp physically uproot and consume macrophytes and disturb 
sediments, increasing turbidity and decreasing light penetration, which 
inhibits macrophyte establishment (Crowl and Miller 2004, pp. 11-12). 
Although not specifically identified at the time of listing, the 
successful establishment of common carp and their effect on the Utah 
Lake ecosystem is a threat to the persistence of the species (SWCA 
2002, p. 19). However, the previously described carp removal program 
has reduced carp populations and increased macrophytic vegetation in 
the lake, improving resiliency of June sucker (see Recovery).
    Rapid urbanization on the floodplains of Utah Lake tributaries 
stimulated extensive flood and erosion control activities in lake 
tributaries and reduced available land for the natural meandering of 
the historical river channels (Stamp et al. 2008, p. 4). Channelization 
for flood control and additional channel manipulation for erosion 
control further reduced riverine habitat complexity and reduced the 
total length of tributary rivers for spawning and early-life-stage use 
(Stamp et al. 2008, pp. 12-13). It is anticipated that further urban 
infrastructure development is likely as the populations of cities 
bordering Utah Lake and its tributaries continue to increase.
    Among the potential impacts from continued urbanization near Utah 
Lake is the potential for the construction of bridges or other 
transportation crossings. One example is the Utah Crossing project, a 
causeway across Utah Lake proposed in 2009. An updated application has 
not been filed with Utah's Department of Transportation for the project 
to proceed; however, as development continues on the western side of 
Utah Lake, the potential need for some type of crossing may increase.
    A large-scale project to dredge Utah Lake, remove invasive species, 
and build habitable islands for private development was proposed in 
2017 and is under early stages of planning and review at the State 
level (ULRP 2018, entire). This project has not received any approval 
or necessary permits at the State or Federal level. We do not expect 
the Utah Lake Restoration Project or the Utah Crossing project to move 
forward or impact June sucker in the next 5-10 years. All development 
projects on Utah Lake are subject to Federal and State

[[Page 65089]]

laws and require consultation with the Service prior to beginning work. 
However, such projects could potentially impact June sucker by 
increasing habitat for predatory fish and restricting June sucker 
movement in Utah Lake (Service 2009, entire). Additional impacts to 
water quality due to the runoff from new structures could also pose a 
threat to June sucker (Service 2009, entire). The Utah Division of 
Water Quality (UDWQ) is partnering with the Utah Lake Commission and 
other stakeholders to research and provide recommendations to improve 
water quality and address impacts of urbanization and other factors 
that may negatively impact future water quality (UDWQ 2017, entire).
Summary of Factor A
    Water development and habitat modification, common carp, and 
urbanization have been identified as threats to June sucker. Since the 
time of listing, the following recovery actions have been implemented: 
(1) 21,500 acre-feet of permanent water for instream flows has been 
secured to benefit the June sucker; (2) a mechanism for annually 
recommending and providing flows for June sucker spawning has been 
implemented; (3) the common carp population has been suppressed 
resulting in measurable habitat improvement in Utah Lake; (4) the 
impacts of urbanization are being considered through active research 
and planning; and (5) a landscape-scale stream channel and delta 
restoration for the Provo River is being implemented (see Recovery). We 
find that the severity of the threats under Factor A have decreased 
since the time of listing; adaptive management of these threats is 
ongoing, and increased resiliency and redundancy are evident as 
indicated by increasing survival rates and overall population numbers.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Commercial fishing, including fishing for June sucker, was 
historically an important use of Utah Lake (Heckman et al. 1981, p. 9). 
Some commercial fishing for June sucker occurred through the 1970s, but 
on a very limited basis. Shortly thereafter, commercial harvest for the 
species largely stopped due to the limited population size. Currently, 
June sucker is a prohibited species and cannot be harvested (Utah 
Regulation 657-14-8). Consequently, commercial or recreational fishing 
is no longer considered a threat to the species. Regulated collections 
of June sucker for scientific purposes continue at a very limited 
level, but do not pose a threat to the population status. We do not 
consider overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes a threat to June sucker.

C. Disease or Predation

    Neither disease nor the presence of parasites were considered 
threats to June sucker at the time of listing. Although parasites 
likely exist in June sucker habitat, there is no evidence that June 
sucker at the individual or population levels are significantly 
compromised by the presence of parasites. Fish health inspections are 
regularly conducted on June sucker at the FES hatchery and in Red Butte 
Reservoir, and no known pathogens have been detected (JSRIP 2018c, 
entire). At this time, there is no information indicating that the 
presence of parasites or disease negatively affects June sucker.
    Predation by nonnative fishes threatens the successful recruitment 
of young suckers into the spawning adult life stage (Radant and Hickman 
1984, p. 6) and was a major factor for listing the species as 
endangered (51 FR 10851; March 31, 1986). The introduction of nonnative 
fishes significantly altered the native Utah Lake fish assemblage. 
Historically, Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) was the 
top-level piscivore (fish-eating predator) in Utah Lake; however, 30 
fish species have been introduced since the late 1800s. Twelve 
nonnative fish species have established self-sustaining populations, 
and seven of these are piscivorous (SWCA 2002, p. 14). As a result, 
June suckers currently face an array of predator species, including 
white bass (Morone chrysops), walleye (Sander vitreus), largemouth bass 
(Micropterus salmoides), black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), black 
bullhead (Ameiurus melas), northern pike (Esox lucius), and channel 
catfish (Ictalurus punctatus).
    Predation by nonnative fishes primarily targets the early life 
stages of June sucker. Adult June sucker are larger than the gape size 
of the average predatory fish, and therefore, are significantly less 
vulnerable. At the time of listing, the effects of predation were 
exacerbated by the lack of vegetated refuge habitat within Utah Lake.
    White bass may have the highest potential to limit recruitment of 
young suckers into the spawning adult population (SWCA 2002, p. 132; 
Landom et al. 2010, p. 18). White bass become piscivorous at age-0 in 
Utah Lake (Radant and Sakaguchi 1981, p. 12; Landom et al. 2010, pp. 
11-12) and are the most abundant piscivore (UDWR 2010, p. 9). The white 
bass population in Utah Lake could consume as many as 550 million fish 
of various species throughout the course of 1 year (Landom et al. 2010, 
pp. 8-10). However, it appears that restored habitat with complex 
aquatic vegetation provides the sucker with effective refuge from white 
bass. Thus, habitat restoration is likely paramount to young-of-year 
June sucker resiliency and survival (see Recovery).
    The recent illegal introduction of northern pike and its increasing 
population in Utah Lake raises concerns similar to white bass. Northern 
pike predominantly feed on juvenile fish; predation on adults is less 
than one percent (Reynolds and Gaeta 2017, p. 12). Thus far, the lake-
wide number of northern pike has not measurably increased and active 
removal efforts continue to suppress populations (Reynolds and Gaeta 
2017, p. 13). However, a northern pike population model shows potential 
for a high degree of population increase with potential for a high 
negative impact on the June sucker population by the year 2040 (Gaeta 
et al. 2018, entire). Despite these modeling results, unique factors 
impacting northern pike population dynamics in Utah Lake are still not 
understood. Recent habitat improvements in the lake from common carp 
removal (see Recovery) may help mitigate northern pike predation by 
providing refugia for June sucker. Additionally, high levels of total 
dissolved solids (TDS), similar to the levels found in Utah Lake, may 
suppress northern pike (Scannell and Jacobs 2001, entire; Koel 2011, p. 
7). The JSRIP is funding research to clarify this relationship and to 
determine a course of action to prevent northern pike from becoming a 
greater threat to June sucker in the future.
    While predation from nonnative species remains a threat, June 
suckers continue to persist in the lake, with spawning populations and 
the number of untagged fish (e.g., possibly natural recruitment) 
increasing. Adaptive management of nonnative fish is ongoing.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Under this factor, we examine the stressors identified within the 
other factors as ameliorated or exacerbated by any existing regulatory 
mechanisms or conservation efforts. Section 4(b)(1)(A)

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of the Act requires that the Service take into account ``those efforts, 
if any, being made by any State or foreign nation, or any political 
subdivision of a State or foreign nation, to protect such species . . 
.'' In relation to Factor D under the Act, we interpret this language 
to require the Service to consider relevant Federal, State, and Tribal 
laws, regulations, and other such binding legal mechanisms that may 
ameliorate or exacerbate any of the threats we describe in threat 
analyses under the other four factors or otherwise enhance the species' 
conservation. Our consideration of these mechanisms is described below.
    As a listed species, the primary regulatory mechanism for 
protection of the June sucker is through section 9(a) of the Act, as 
administered by the Service, which broadly prohibits import, export, 
take (e.g., to harm, harass, kill, capture), and possession of the 
species. Additional regulatory mechanisms are provided through section 
7(a)(2) of the Act, which states that each Federal agency shall, in 
consultation with and with the assistance of the Secretary, insure that 
any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency is not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species 
or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of habitat of such species that is determined by the 
Secretary, after soliciting comments from affected States, counties, 
and equivalent jurisdictions, to be critical. Section 10(a)(1)(A) of 
the Act provides a mechanism for research and propagation of listed 
species for recovery purposes through a permitting system that allows 
incidental take of a listed species in the course of scientific 
projects that will benefit the species as a whole. For non-Federal 
actions, section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act authorizes the Service to issue 
a permit allowing take of species provided that the taking is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise 
lawful activity. Section 10(a)(2)(A) of the Act requires that a 
conservation plan, which is part of an application for an incidental 
take permit, describe the impact of the taking and identify steps to 
minimize and mitigate the impacts.
    The Act would continue to provide protection to June sucker after 
downlisting to threatened status, but would not provide protection for 
the species after delisting. However, after delisting, the June sucker 
and its habitat would continue to receive consideration and some 
protection through other regulatory mechanisms discussed below.
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d) 
requires Federal agencies to evaluate the potential effects of their 
proposed actions on the quality of the human environment and requires 
the preparation of an environmental impact statement whenever projects 
may result in significant impacts. Federal agencies must identify 
adverse environmental impacts of their proposed actions and develop 
alternatives that undergo the scrutiny of other public and private 
organizations as a part of their decision-making process. However, 
impacts may still occur under NEPA, and the implementation of 
conservation measures is largely voluntary. Actions evaluated under 
NEPA only affect June sucker if they address potential impacts to the 
species or its habitat. Because of this, NEPA provides some protection 
for June sucker in the cases of projects that directly impact its 
habitat in Utah Lake or its tributaries.
    The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-666c) 
requires that Federal agencies sponsoring, funding, or permitting 
activities related to water resource development projects request 
review of these actions by the Service and the State natural resource 
management agency. Similar to caveats noted for NEPA, actions 
considered under the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act are only 
relevant if they potentially impact the species or its habitat. The 
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act does not provide strong or broad 
protections for June sucker on its own, but does provide an additional 
layer of review for projects likely to directly impact June sucker and 
works in concert with other regulatory mechanisms.
    Section 101(a) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (i.e., 
Clean Water Act; 33 U.S.C. 1251-13287) states that the objective of 
this law is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and 
biological integrity of the Nation's waters and provide the means to 
assure protection of fish and wildlife. This statute contributes in a 
significant way to the protection of the June sucker through provisions 
for water quality standards, protection from the discharge of harmful 
pollutants and contaminants (sections 303(c), 304(a), and 402), and 
discharge of dredged or fill material into all waters, including 
certain wetlands (section 404).
    The Clean Water Act requires every State to establish and maintain 
water quality standards designed to protect, restore, and preserve 
water quality in the State. However, Utah Lake has failed to meet water 
quality standards due to exceedance of total phosphorus and TDS 
concentrations (Psomas 2007, p. 11), and it is listed as a section 
303(d) ``impaired'' water (Utah Lake Commission 2018, p. 7). Poor water 
quality in Utah Lake could alter food availability for June sucker and 
contribute to increases in harmful algal bloom events and toxin 
concentrations from those events, which could increase the risk of 
large-scale June sucker mortality events. To meet Clean Water Act 
requirements, UDWR and the Utah Lake Commission are studying water 
quality in Utah Lake and have organized a steering committee and 
science panel for the purposes of providing recommendations to improve 
water quality standards in Utah Lake (Utah Lake Commission 2018, 
    June sucker also receives some protections at the State level. 
Commercial or recreational fishing for June sucker is not allowed. 
Possession of June sucker is prohibited in the State of Utah and it 
cannot be harvested (Utah Regulation 657-14-8).
    Improved implementation of regulatory mechanisms described above is 
necessary for recovery of the June sucker and to ensure long-term 
conservation of the species. If the species were to be delisted, there 
will be a need for conservation plans and agreements to provide 
assurances that the recovered June sucker population will be 
maintained. However, in the case of downlisting, the June sucker will 
continue to receive protection under the Act when listed as threatened. 
The species will also receive the same level of protection under the 
other aforementioned regulatory mechanisms.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    At the time of listing, the impact of pollution from local 
communities was considered to be adversely affecting June sucker, but 
more information was needed to document this threat. Water quality in 
Utah Lake continues to be a threat to the species, and climate change 
is considered a new threat. Riverine water quality has improved in two 
of the tributaries (Provo River and Hobble Creek) due to the water 
acquisitions and the augmentation of stream flow for the protection of 
the species.
Lake Water Quality
    Utah Lake is hypereutrophic, characterized by frequent algal blooms 
and high turbidity (Merritt 2004, p. 14; Psomas 2007, p. 12). The 
increased turbidity, decreased water quality, and historical change in 
the plant community, from macrophyte-dominated to algae-dominated, 

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the fishes of Utah Lake, including June sucker.
    High turbidity can decrease the feeding ability of many species of 
planktivorous fish (Brett and Groot 1963, pp. 5-6; Vinyard and O'Brien 
1976, p. 3), which could indicate a lack of access to sufficient food 
for rearing juveniles. Thus, elevated turbidity levels may decrease 
feeding efficiency of June sucker by limiting their ability to visually 
prey on preferred plankton food types.
    Utah Lake is listed on Utah's 2016 section 303(d) list for 
exceedance of State criteria for total phosphorus and TDS 
concentrations (UDWQ 2018, p. 3-7). The majority of the total 
phosphorus load to Utah Lake is from point sources. Utah Lake also has 
naturally elevated salinity levels compared to other intermountain 
freshwater lakes, and there is anecdotal evidence that the 
concentrations are substantially higher today than they were before 
human development (Psomas 2007, p. 8). Within Utah Lake, natural 
salinity levels are due in part to high evaporation rates, which are a 
function of the lake's large surface-area-to-depth ratio and drainage 
basin characteristics. Evaporation naturally removes about 50 percent 
of the total volume of water that flows into the lake, resulting in a 
doubling of the mean salt concentration in water passing through the 
lake (Fuhriman et al. 1981, p. 7).
    In addition, several natural mineral springs near the shore of Utah 
Lake contribute dissolved salts, although the magnitude and effect of 
these sources has not been quantitatively evaluated (Hatton 1932, p. 
2). Evaporative losses continue to be the main driver of salinity 
concentrations in Utah Lake. However, settlement and development of the 
Utah Lake basin since the 1800s led to increases in irrigation return 
flows containing dissolved salts, which likely exacerbated natural 
salinity concentrations within Utah Lake (Sanchez 1904, p. 1). Despite 
the human influences on inflows, in recent years, salinity levels in 
Utah Lake have not increased markedly (Psomas 2007, p. 13). The UDWQ 
continues to monitor Utah Lake for any changes in salinity 
    The effects of increased salinity concentrations on the various 
life stages of June sucker are unknown. Egg size, hatching success, and 
mean total length of larvae decreased as salinity levels increased for 
another lake sucker that occurs in Nevada, the cui-ui (Chasmistes 
cujus; Chatto 1979, p. 7). However, salinity concentrations were much 
higher in the cui-ui habitat than any recorded concentrations in Utah 
    Natural nutrient loading to the lake is high due to the nutrient- 
and sediment-rich watershed surrounding the lake. However, human 
development in the drainage increased the naturally high inflow of 
sediments and nutrients to the lake (Fuhriman et al. 1981, p. 12). 
Sewage effluent entering the lake accounts for 50, 76, and 80 percent 
of all nitrogen, total phosphorous, and ortho-phosphate, respectively 
(Psomas 2007, p. 12). Phosphorus inputs to the lake (297.6 tons (270.0 
metric tons) per year) exceed exports (83.5 tons (75.7 metric tons) per 
year) during all months of the year. Thus, the lake acts as a 
phosphorus sink, accumulating approximately 214 tons (194.1 metric 
tons) annually (Psomas 2007, p. 15). These high nutrient loads increase 
the frequency and extent of large blue-green algal blooms, which 
greatly affect overall food web dynamics in Utah Lake (Crowl et al. 
1998b, p. 13). Blue-green algae is inedible to many zooplankton 
species, which decreases zooplankton abundance and its availability as 
a food source for June sucker (Landom et al. 2010, p. 19). Reductions 
in feeding rates translate into long-term effects such as decreased 
condition, growth rates, and fish survival (Sigler et al. 1984, p. 7; 
Hayes et al. 1992, p. 9). Furthermore, the increased algal biomass 
limits available light for submergent vegetation (Scheffer 1998, p. 
19), thus reducing refugial habitat for early life stages of June 
sucker. The frequency and size of algal blooms may be increasing as 
large-scale algal blooms occurred in 2016 and 2017 (UDWQ 2017, p. 3).
    Although there is a significant amount of research indicating that 
algal blooms can be harmful to many types of fish, we do not have 
direct evidence regarding the degree or manner in which they impact 
June sucker in Utah Lake (Psomas 2007, p. 14; Crowl 2015, entire). No 
fish kills were documented during recent bloom events, but post-
stocking monitoring of June sucker has noted that, during algal blooms, 
fish movement decreased measurably (Goldsmith et al. 2017, p. 13).
    An average Utah Lake TDS concentration is about 900 parts per 
million (ppm)/milligrams per liter (mg/L), but large variations occur, 
depending on the water year (Hickman and Thurin 2007, p. 9). There is 
no evidence of direct mortality to June sucker due to higher salinity 
levels, but it is possible that increased salinity, when combined with 
increased nutrient input and turbidity, may adversely affect June 
sucker by reducing zooplankton and refugial habitat abundance as 
described above. Further study of June sucker responses during high 
salinity events is needed to better understand this relationship.
    Water quality concerns in Utah Lake are being addressed through a 
large-scale study and the formation of a steering committee and science 
panel to develop recommendations for Utah Lake water quality for the 
benefit of June sucker (UDWQ 2017, entire).
Riverine Water Quality
    Prior to listing, riverine water quality was heavily impacted by 
water withdrawal, agricultural and municipal effluents, and habitat 
modification. The water withdrawals reduced the ability of the rivers 
to effectively transport sediments and other materials from the river 
channel. Furthermore, withdrawals influenced temperature, dissolved 
oxygen, and pollutant/nutrient concentrations (Stamp et al. 2008, p. 
18). Diverted streams with reduced, shallow summertime base flows are 
very susceptible to solar heating and can experience lethally warm 
water temperatures (over 80 [deg]F or 27 [deg]C, depending on life 
stage). High water temperature, especially if combined with stagnant 
flow velocities, can lead to low dissolved oxygen levels in streams 
where flows have been reduced (Stamp et al. 2008, p. 19).
    Artificially high temperatures may also occur in streams where flow 
regime alterations and channelization have limited the recruitment of 
woody riparian vegetation, thereby reducing the amount of streamside 
shading (Stamp et al. 2008, p. 19). Subsequently, extensive 
colonization by filamentous algae can occur in warmer temperatures, 
creating extreme daily dissolved oxygen fluctuations that are harmful 
to June sucker (Service 1994, p. 12). Agricultural and municipal 
effluents can enrich production of algae, further impacting daily 
dissolved oxygen levels. These effluents can cause fish kills if 
significant runoff from agricultural and municipal properties occurs 
during low flow periods. Furthermore, heavy algal growth can cause the 
armoring of spawning gravels and aid in the accumulation of fine 
sediments that degrade spawning habitat quality (Stamp et al. 2008, p. 
    The Provo River is listed on Utah's 2016 section 303(d) list for 
impairments harmful to cold-water aquatic life. Additionally, water 
quality has been considered poor in the river's lower reaches during 
summer low-flow periods due to low dissolved oxygen levels and elevated 
temperatures (Stamp et al. 2008, p. 34). It is likely that the recent 
supplementation of flows for

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June sucker recovery in the Provo River are minimizing the risk of 
lethal temperatures and dissolved oxygen fluctuations by providing 
water during critical periods and maintaining base flows throughout the 
summer while larvae are developing. The planned Provo River Delta 
Restoration Project will provide additional water storage and refugial 
habitat (see Recovery).
    Hobble Creek is not currently on the Utah section 303(d) list as 
being an impaired waterbody. However, there are indications that total 
phosphorus and temperature may be problematic in Hobble Creek during 
certain times of the year (Stamp et al. 2009, pp. 22-23). Based on 
review of data collected since 1999 at the water quality station on 
Hobble Creek at I-15 (STORET site #4996100), average total phosphorous 
concentration is 0.06 ppm/mg/L, which exceeds the Utah indicator value 
of 0.05 ppm/mg/L (Stamp et al. 2009, p. 24). In addition, creek 
temperatures exceed 68 [deg]F (20 [deg]C), which is the State cold-
water fishery standard; this temperature increase typically occurs 
during summer days when air temperatures are high and flow in the 
channel is low (Stamp et al. 2009, p. 26). Similar to the Provo River, 
the augmentation of stream flows in Hobble Creek has likely minimized 
the risk of lethal temperatures by providing flows during critical 
Effects of Climate Change
    The predicted increase in global average temperatures is expected 
to negatively affect water quality in shallow lakes (Mooij et al. 2007, 
p. 2). Turbid shallow lakes such as Utah Lake are likely to have higher 
summer chlorophyll-a concentrations with a stronger dominance of blue-
green algae and reduced zooplankton abundance with climate change 
(Mooij et al. 2007, p. 5). This could affect June sucker food resources 
since zooplankton are the primary food source for the species.
    In Utah, the intensity of naturally occurring future droughts are 
expected to increase and historically unprecedented warming is 
projected by the end of the 21st Century. Projected changed in winter 
precipitation include an increase in the fractions falling as rain, 
rather than snow, and potentially decreasing snowpack water storage 
(Frankson et al. 2017; p. 2). These changes in timing and amount of 
flow could affect June sucker spawning, because the spawning cues of 
increased runoff and water temperature, on which the June sucker relies 
to determine spawning time, would potentially occur earlier in the 
    As changes to water availability and timing occur in the future, 
the JSRIP will need to coordinate reservoir operations to ensure timely 
releases. If runoff and upstream reservoir volumes are insufficient, 
peak and base flows desired in spawning tributaries will be reduced. 
This in turn would negatively impact the early season attractant flows 
needed by spawning adults, and potentially limit flows needed by larval 
suckers to move into downstream rearing habitats. While 13,000 acre-ft 
(16,035,240 m\3\) of permanent water have been acquired for the Provo 
River and 8,500 acre-ft (10,485,000 m\3\) have been acquired for Hobble 
Creek, and flows in both systems are intensively managed with 
consideration for June sucker, additional permanent water acquisitions 
may become necessary to secure water that can be used to supplement 
flows during critical spawning and rearing periods as the climate 
Summary of Factor E
    Water quality in Utah Lake continues to be a threat to June sucker, 
although water acquisitions and effective water management practices to 
benefit the species have greatly reduced its impact and increased 
resiliency in the species. In the future, climate change may make 
addressing this threat more difficult due to increased temperatures and 
decreased precipitation. However, both water quality and availability 
of water in the future are actively being studied and prioritized by 
the JSRIP, UDWQ, and the Utah Lake Commission. Current conditions in 
the Utah lake ecosystem support an increasing population of June sucker 
in the lake and increasing spawning populations in key tributaries. In 
addition, three refuge populations exist to prevent extinction should 
an unforeseen catastrophic water quality event occur, thereby ensuring 
continued redundancy. Therefore, we find that adaptive management of 
the threats under Factor E, through on-going water management and 
acquisition for the benefit of June sucker, as well as efforts to 
improve water quality in Utah Lake, prevents them from rising to the 
level that would place June sucker in imminent danger of extinction.
Overall Summary of Factors Affecting June Sucker
    As required by the Act, we considered the five factors in assessing 
whether the June sucker is an endangered or threatened species 
throughout all of its range. We carefully examined the best scientific 
and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by June sucker. We reviewed the information 
available in our files and other available published and unpublished 
information, and we consulted with recognized experts and State 
agencies. We evaluated the changes in resiliency, redundancy, and 
representation for June sucker since the time of listing.
    June sucker resiliency has improved since the time of listing, with 
an increase in wild spawning population of at least ten-fold, a 
positive population trend, and increases in both the quality and 
quantity of habitat, which we project will continue to improve based on 
plans to continue successful management actions and implement new 
projects, such as the Provo River Delta Restoration and the Utah Water 
Quality Study. Redundancy in June sucker is assured by the existence of 
several refuge population, including a naturally self-sustaining 
population in Red Butte Reservoir and the stocking population 
maintained at FES and Rosebud Pond, as well as the presence of water 
flows in at least two spawning tributaries each year, with up to five 
spawning tributaries available in good water years. Prior to listing 
there were no refuge populations and in low water years there might be 
no available spawning tributaries with water throughout the summer. 
Representation for June sucker exists in the form of genetic diversity 
in the breeding and stocking program, which has preserved a high degree 
of genetic variation in the fish stocked in Utah Lake since listing. 
Based on these elements, we find that overall viability for June sucker 
has improved since the time of listing, to the point where it no longer 
meets the definition of endangered.
    Factor B is not considered a threat to the June sucker due to the 
fact that harvest and collection of the species are strictly regulated 
and very limited. June suckers are affected by loss and degradation of 
habitat (Factor A), predation (Factor C), and other effects of human 
activities including climate change (Factor E). Existing regulatory 
mechanisms outside of the Act (Factor D) do not address all the 
identified threats to the June sucker, as indicated by the fact that 
these threats continue to affect the species throughout its range. 
However, recovery actions have significantly improved viability of the 
June sucker and reduced the immediacy of these threats.
Cumulative Threats
    The June sucker faces threats primarily from degraded habitat and 
water quality, water availability, predation from nonnative species, 
and urbanization. Furthermore, existing

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regulatory mechanisms do not adequately address these threats. The June 
sucker also faces a future threat of climate change, which may 
exacerbate other existing threats. These factors may act cumulatively 
on the species. For example, urbanization can result in increased 
pressure on existing water resources as well as degraded water quality, 
which when combined with rising temperatures and decreased rainfall can 
result in less available water, increased water temperatures, and 
decreased habitat quality. These factors can cause reduced availability 
of food for June sucker, decreased reproductive success, and increased 
    However, since the time of listing, all of the identified threats 
to June sucker have either improved measurably or are being adaptively 
managed according to the best available scientific information for the 
benefit of June sucker (see Recovery). Conservation measures, including 
stocking of June sucker in Utah Lake, habitat restoration projects on 
spawning tributaries, and nonnative fish removal, have resulted in 
increased numbers of June sucker in the lake, evidence of wild 
reproduction, and improved habitat within the lake and its tributaries. 
As a result, resiliency, redundancy, and representation have all 
improved. Continued research and monitoring provide an avenue to 
respond to new and evolving threats, such as the effects of climate 
change, to recovery progress. The existence of refuge populations 
ensures that, should a stochastic event or extreme combination of 
existing threats greatly impact the population in Utah Lake, the June 
sucker would not become extinct.
    This resilience to the cumulative threats is due largely to the 
actions of an active, committed, and well-funded recovery partnership. 
The JSRIP has been the driving force behind the reduction in threats, 
habitat improvement, and population augmentation and is able to 
adaptively manage new stressors as they arise. The improvement of 
conditions and success of the recovery program can be measured via the 
increased number of spawning June suckers, the positive population 
trend, and the high level of year-to-year survival.

Proposed Determination of Species Status

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for determining 
whether a species meets the definition of ``endangered species'' or 
``threatened species.'' The Act defines an ``endangered species'' as a 
species that is ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range,'' and a ``threatened species'' as a 
species that is ``likely to become an endangered species within the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range.'' The Act requires that we determine whether a species meets the 
definition of ``endangered species'' or ``threatened species'' because 
of any of the following factors: (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.

Status Throughout All of Its Range

    After evaluating threats to the species and assessing the 
cumulative effects of the threats under the section 4(a)(1) factors, we 
find that the threats of loss and degradation of habitat (Factor A), 
predation (Factor C), and other effects of human activities including 
climate change (Factor E) are still acting on June sucker. Existing 
regulatory mechanisms outside of the Act (Factor D) do not address all 
the identified threats to the June sucker, as indicated by the fact 
that these threats continue to affect the species throughout its range, 
although with less intensity than at the time of listing. Based on the 
analysis above and given increases in population numbers due to 
recovery efforts, we conclude the June sucker no longer meets the Act's 
definition of an endangered species.
    Although population numbers have increased and the intensity of the 
identified threats has decreased, our analysis indicates that, because 
of the remaining threats and stressors, the species remains likely to 
become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future throughout all 
of its range.
    Based solely on biological factors, we consider 25 years to be the 
foreseeable future within which we can reasonably determine that the 
future threats and the June sucker's response to those threats is 
likely. This time period includes multiple generations of the species 
and allows adequate time for impacts from conservation efforts or 
changes in threats to be indicated through population response. The 
foreseeable future for the individual threats vary. In terms of 
population and threats, management and recovery progress are overseen 
by the JSRIP. The charter of this program states that the purpose of 
the JSRIP is to recover June sucker to the point at which it no longer 
requires protections under the Act, and to do so based on recovery 
guidance provided by the Service using the best available scientific 
and biological information in an adaptive management approach. Because 
the JSRIP is committed to achieving full recovery and the partners have 
committed to providing funding through that point, threats to June 
sucker will continue to be adaptively managed by the JSRIP until such 
time as we find it no longer requires protections under the Act. For at 
least as long as the species remains listed, the JSRIP will continue to 
manage threats, stressors, and population health and trends in an 
adaptive way, ensuring that it is extremely unlikely to go extinct. The 
Service will then rely on management actions that have been put in 
place by the JSRIP, and other factors such as a population viability 
analysis, habitat improvements, and future long-term agreements, when 
delisting is being considered. This ensures continued stability in the 
absence of the protections of the Act after the June sucker reaches 
full recovery.
    The breeding and stocking program and the nonnative fish removal 
program are expected to be on-going, with the development of long-term 
strategies to maintain recovery progress expected within the next 2 
years. Permanent water acquired by the JSRIP is expected to be managed 
through the existing mechanisms indefinitely. Temporary water expires 
in 2 years, but the JSRIP is actively pursuing the acquisition of 
additional permanent water, which will be managed through those same 
mechanisms for the benefit of June sucker spawning. The Provo River 
Delta Restoration Project should be completed within 5 years, but it 
will take at least several years before the impact on June sucker 
recruitment can be detected, and potentially longer as the changes made 
by the PRDRP are likely to evolve over time as vegetation matures and 
hydrology adapts to the structural alterations (PRDRP 2017, entire). 
Models of nonnative fishes provided by Utah State University extend 
until 2040, but are subject to a large range of variables and are in 
the process of being refined (Reynolds and Gaeta 2017, entire; Gaeta et 
al. 2018, p. 8-10).
    Thus, after assessing the best available information, we conclude 
that the June sucker is not currently in danger of extinction, but is 
likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range.

[[Page 65094]]

Determination of Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may 
warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so 
in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of 
its range. Because we have determined that the June sucker is likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all of 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 
Act. Under this reading, we should first consider whether the species 
warrants listing ``throughout all'' of its range and proceed to conduct 
a ``significant portion of its range'' analysis if, and only if, a 
species does not qualify for listing as either an endangered or a 
threatened species according to the ``throughout all'' language. We 
note that the court in Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, 
No. 16-cv-01165-JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018), did not 
address this issue, and our conclusion is therefore consistent with the 
opinion in that case.

Determination of Status

    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information indicates that the June sucker meets the definition of a 
threatened species. Therefore, we propose to list the June sucker as a 
threatened species throughout all of its range in accordance with 
sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

Proposed 4(d) Rule


    Section 4(d) of the Act states that the ``Secretary shall issue 
such regulations as he deems necessary and advisable to provide for the 
conservation'' of species listed as threatened. The U.S. Supreme Court 
has noted that very similar statutory language demonstrates a large 
degree of deference to the agency (see Webster v. Doe, 486 U.S. 592 
(1988)). Conservation is defined in the Act to mean ``the use of all 
methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered 
species or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to [the Act] are no longer necessary.'' Additionally, 
section 4(d) of the Act states that the Secretary ``may by regulation 
prohibit with respect to any threatened species any act prohibited 
under section 9(a)(1), in the case of fish or wildlife, or section 
9(a)(2), in the case of plants.'' Thus, regulations promulgated under 
section 4(d) of the Act provide the Secretary with wide latitude of 
discretion to select appropriate provisions tailored to the specific 
conservation needs of the threatened species. The statute grants 
particularly broad discretion to the Service when adopting the 
prohibitions under section 9.
    The courts have recognized the extent of the Secretary's discretion 
under this standard to develop rules that are appropriate for the 
conservation of a species. For example, courts have approved rules 
developed under section 4(d) that include a taking prohibition for 
threatened wildlife, or include a limited taking prohibition (see Alsea 
Valley Alliance v. Lautenbacher, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 60203 (D. Or. 
2007); Washington Environmental Council v. National Marine Fisheries 
Service, 2002 U.S. Dist. Lexis 5432 (W.D. Wash. 2002)). Courts have 
also approved 4(d) rules that do not address all of the threats a 
species faces (see State of Louisiana v. Verity, 853 F.2d 322 (5th Cir. 
1988)). As noted in the legislative history when the Act was initially 
enacted, ``once an animal is on the threatened list, the Secretary has 
an almost infinite number of options available to him with regard to 
the permitted activities for those species. He may, for example, permit 
taking, but not importation of such species, or he may choose to forbid 
both taking and importation but allow the transportation of such 
species'' (H.R. Rep. No. 412, 93rd Cong., 1st Sess. 1973).
    The Service has developed a species-specific 4(d) rule that is 
designed to address the June sucker's specific threats and conservation 
needs. Although the statute does not require the Service to make a 
``necessary and advisable'' finding with respect to the adoption of 
specific prohibitions under section 9, we find that this regulation is 
necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the June 
sucker. As discussed in the Overall Summary of Factors Affecting June 
Sucker section, the Service has concluded that the June sucker is at 
risk of extinction in the foreseeable future primarily due to the 
identified threats of water development, habitat degradation, and the 
introduction of nonnative species. The provisions of this proposed 4(d) 
rule would promote conservation of the June sucker by encouraging 
management of the Utah Lake system in ways that take into consideration 
the stakeholders while also meeting the conservation needs of the June 
sucker. The provisions of this rule are one of many tools that the 
Service will use to promote the conservation of the June sucker. This 
proposed 4(d) rule would apply only if and when the Service makes final 
the listing of the June sucker as a threatened species.

Provisions of the Proposed 4(d) Rule

    This proposed 4(d) rule would provide for the conservation of the 
June sucker by prohibiting the following activities, except as 
otherwise authorized or permitted: Importing or exporting; possession 
and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens; delivering, receiving, 
transporting, or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce in the 
course of commercial activity; or selling or offering for sale in 
interstate or foreign commerce.
    Anyone taking, attempting to take, or otherwise possessing a June 
sucker, or parts thereof, in violation of section 9 of the Act would 
still be subject to a penalty under section 11 of the Act, except for 
the actions that would be covered under the proposed 4(d) rule. Under 
section 7 of the Act, Federal agencies must continue to ensure that any 
actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of June sucker.
    As discussed under Summary of Biological Status and Threats 
(above), nonnative species, water development, and habitat degradation 
are affecting the status of the June sucker. A range of beneficial 
conservation activities have the potential to impact the June sucker, 
including: Nonnative fish removal, habitat restoration projects, 
monitoring of June sucker, research or educational projects, and 
maintaining June sucker refuges.
    Under the Act, ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct. Some of these provisions have been further defined in 
regulation at 50 CFR 17.3. Take can result knowingly or otherwise, by 
direct and indirect impacts, intentionally or incidentally. Allowing 
incidental and intentional take in certain cases, such as for the 
purposes of scientific inquiry, monitoring, or to improve habitat or 
water availability and quality would help preserve the species' 
remaining populations, slow their rate of decline, and decrease 
synergistic, negative effects from other stressors.
    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities, 
including those described above, involving threatened wildlife under

[[Page 65095]]

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: Scientific purposes, to enhance 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.
    The Service recognizes the special and unique relationship with our 
state natural resource agency partners in contributing to conservation 
of listed species. State agencies often possess scientific data and 
valuable expertise on the status and distribution of endangered, 
threatened, and candidate species of wildlife and plants. State 
agencies, because of their authorities and their close working 
relationships with local governments and landowners, are in a unique 
position to assist the Services in implementing all aspects of the Act. 
In this regard, section 6 of the Act provides that the Services shall 
cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States in carrying 
out programs authorized by the Act. Therefore, any qualified employee 
or agent of a State conservation agency that is a party to a 
cooperative agreement with the Service in accordance with section 6(c) 
of the Act, who is designated by his or her agency for such purposes, 
would be able to conduct activities designed to conserve the June 
sucker that may result in otherwise prohibited take without additional 
    This proposed 4(d) rule targets activities to facilitate 
conservation and management of June sucker where they currently occur 
and may occur in the future by eliminating the Federal take prohibition 
under certain conditions. These activities are intended to increase 
management flexibility and encourage support for the conservation and 
habitat improvement of June sucker. Under the proposed 4(d) rule, take 
will generally continue to be prohibited, but the following forms of 
take would be allowed under the Act, provided they were approved by the 
Service, in coordination with any existing designated recovery program, 
for the purpose of June sucker conservation or recovery:
     Incidental take resulting from activities intended to 
reduce or eliminate nonnative fish from Utah Lake or its tributaries, 
including but not limited to common carp, northern pike, and white 
     Incidental take resulting from habitat restoration 
projects or projects that would allow for the increase of instream 
flows in Utah Lake tributaries, such as diversion removals.
     Incidental take resulting from monitoring of June sucker 
in Utah Lake and its tributaries.
     Incidental and limited direct take resulting from research 
projects approved by the Service, in coordination with any existing 
designated recovery program, to study factors affecting June sucker or 
its habitat for the purposes of providing management recommendations or 
improved condition of June sucker.
     Incidental and limited direct take resulting from 
maintaining June sucker refuges and moving June sucker from refuges for 
the purposes of stocking them in Utah Lake.
    These forms of allowable take are explained in more detail below. 
For all forms of allowable take, reasonable care must be practiced, to 
minimize the impacts from the actions. Reasonable care means limiting 
the impacts to June sucker individuals and population by complying with 
all applicable Federal, State, and Tribal regulations for the activity 
in question; using methods and techniques that result in the least 
harm, injury, or death, as feasible; undertaking activities at the 
least impactful times and locations, as feasible; procuring and 
implementing technical assistance from a qualified biologist on 
projects regarding all methods prior to the implementation of those 
methods; ensuring the number of individuals removed or sampled 
minimally impacts the existing wild population; ensuring no disease or 
parasites are introduced into the existing June sucker population; and 
preserving the genetic diversity of wild populations.

Nonnative Fish Removal

    Control of nonnative fish is vital for the continued recovery of 
June sucker. At this point in time, control of nonnative fish is 
primarily conducted with mechanical removal via commercial seine 
netting and to a limited extent through angling (for northern pike). 
Other methods, including the use of genetically modified nonnative fish 
and electrofishing to reduce existing populations, may be implemented 
in the future.
    This proposed 4(d) rule defines nonnative fish removal excepted 
from incidental take as any action with the primary or secondary 
purpose (such as the introduction of genetically engineered nonnative 
fish as part of an elimination strategy) of removing nonnative fish 
from Utah Lake and its tributaries that compete with, predate upon, or 
degrade the habitat of June sucker. These removal methods must be 
approved by the Service, in coordination with any existing designated 
recovery program, for that purpose. Such methods may include but are 
not limited to mechanical removal, chemical treatments, or biological 
controls. All methods used must be in compliance with State and Federal 
    Whenever possible, June sucker that are caught alive as part of 
nonnative fish removal should be returned to their source as quickly as 

Habitat Restoration and Improvement of Instream Flows

    Habitat restoration projects are needed to provide additional 
spawning and rearing habitat and refugia for June sucker. Improvements 
in the ability to obtain and deliver water to spawning tributaries will 
allow for improved spawning conditions, entrainment of June sucker 
larvae for development, and periodic high flows providing scouring of 
spawning habitats. This proposed 4(d) rule defines habitat restoration 
or water delivery improvement projects excepted from incidental take as 
any action with the primary or secondary purpose of improving habitat 
conditions in Utah Lake and its tributaries or improving water delivery 
and available in-stream flows in spawning tributaries. These projects 
must be approved by the Service, in coordination with any existing 
designated recovery program, for that purpose. Examples of planned or 
suggested projects excepted from incidental take include the Provo 
River Delta Restoration Project and the removal of water diversion 
structures from the Provo River and Hobble Creek.

June Sucker Monitoring

    Monitoring of June sucker is vital to understanding the population 
dynamics, health, and trends; for measuring the success of the stocking 
program; for evaluating impacts from threats; and for evaluating 
recovery actions that address threats to the species. With the use of 
PIT tag technology, monitoring is becoming less disruptive to the June 
sucker. However, many monitoring methods, including the initial PIT 
tagging of individuals, may harm fish or result in death. In addition 
to PIT tag readers, methods that may be used to detect June sucker in 
the wild include trammel netting, spotlighting, minnow trapping, trap 
netting, gill-netting, spotlighting, electrofishing, and seining. This 
proposed 4(d) rule excepts incidental

[[Page 65096]]

take associated with any method used to detect June sucker in the wild 
for the purposes of better understanding population numbers, trends, or 
response to stressors that is not intended to be destructive, but that 
may unintentionally cause harm or death. Only activities conducted by 
UDWR, their agents, or agents (included academic researches) 
specifically designated and approved by the Service, in coordination 
with any existing designated recovery program, are excepted from take 
restrictions through this 4(d) rule.


    Additional research is needed on June sucker biology, ecology, 
habitat needs, predators, and response to threats in order to improve 
species status and provide recommendations for management, habitat 
improvement, and threat reduction. Research may involve capture of June 
suckers using methods described above, or a variety of other activities 
to study water quality, nonnative fishes, lake and riverine ecosystems, 
tributary flows, habitat, or other factors affecting June suckers that 
may impact individual fish inadvertently. In some cases, lethal 
sampling of June suckers for research purposes may be necessary and 
appropriate. This proposed 4(d) rule defines June sucker research 
excepted from take as any activity undertaken for the purposes of 
increasing our understanding of June sucker biology, ecology, or 
recovery needs under the auspices of UDWR, a recognized academic 
institution, or a qualified scientific contractor and approved by the 
Service, in coordination with any existing designated recovery program, 
as a necessary and productive study for June sucker recovery.

Refuges and Stocking

    Maintaining refuge populations and stocking the June sucker in Utah 
Lake is an integral part of June sucker recovery. The process of 
breeding, rearing, growing, maintaining, and stocking June suckers may 
result in incidental take at all life stages, but the benefits to the 
species far outweigh any losses. At the present time, one facility 
(FES) breeds the June sucker for stocking in Utah Lake; this facility 
also functions as a refuge. FES uses offsite ponds as a grow-out 
facility to allow fish to reach a larger size before they are stocked 
in Utah Lake. An additional refuge population of June sucker exists in 
Red Butte reservoir and is maintained, but not actively managed, for 
stocking purposes. However, as fish from Red Butte consistently have 
the highest post-stocking success rates, Red Butte is an important 
source population and may be used for stocking more intensively in the 
    This proposed 4(d) rule defines June sucker stocking and refuge 
maintenance excepted from incidental take as any activity undertaken 
for the long-term maintenance of June sucker at facilities outside of 
Utah Lake and its tributaries or for the production of June sucker for 
stocking in Utah Lake. Such incidental take could occur from necessary 
facility maintenance or water management, including at Red Butte 
reservoir and its downstream drainages. Any breeding, stocking, or 
refuge program must be approved by the Service, in coordination with 
any existing designated recovery program. Any June sucker breeding 
program should be in compliance with all applicable regulations and 
best hatchery and fishery management practices as described in the 
American Fisheries Society's Fish Hatchery Management (Wedemeyer 2002).
    Nothing in this proposed 4(d) rule would change in any way the 
recovery planning provisions of section 4(f) of the Act, the 
consultation requirements under section 7 of the Act, or the ability of 
the Service to enter into partnerships for the management and 
protection of the June sucker. However, interagency cooperation may be 
further streamlined through planned programmatic consultations for the 
species between Federal agencies and the Service. We ask the public, 
particularly State agencies and other interested stakeholders that may 
be affected by the proposed 4(d) rule, to provide comments and 
suggestions regarding additional guidance and methods that the Service 
could provide or use, respectively, to streamline the implementation of 
this proposed 4(d) rule (see Information Requested, above).

Required Determinations

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To help us with 
revisions to this proposed rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should identify the sections or paragraphs 
that are unclear, which sections or sentences are too long, the 
sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental 
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be 
prepared in connection with regulations pursuant to section 4 of the 
Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination 
in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

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), E.O. 13175, 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. We have determined that no Tribes will 
be affected by this rule because there are no tribal lands or interests 
within or adjacent to June sucker habitat.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this proposed rule is 
available at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2019-
0026, or upon request from the Utah Ecological Services Field Office 


    The primary authors of this proposed rule are staff members of the 
Service's Mountain Prairie Region and the Utah Ecological Services 

[[Page 65097]]

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we hereby propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of 
chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth 


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 revising the entry for ``Sucker, June 
(Chasmistes liorus)'' under ``FISHES'' on the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife to read as set forth below:

Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

                                                                                              Listing citations
           Common name               Scientific name        Where listed         Status         and applicable
                                                  * * * * * * *
                                                  * * * * * * *
Sucker, June.....................  Chasmistes liorus..  Wherever found.....  T               51 FR 10851, 3/31/
                                                                                              1986; [Federal
                                                                                              Register citation
                                                                                              when published as
                                                                                              a final rule]; 50
                                                                                              CFR 17.44(dd) 4d;
                                                                                              50 CFR 17.95(e).CH
                                                  * * * * * * *

3. Amend Sec.  17.44 by adding paragraph (dd) to read as follows:

Sec.  17.44  Special rules--fishes.

* * * * *
    (dd) June sucker (Chasmistes liorus).
    (1) Prohibitions. Except as provided under paragraphs (dd)(2) of 
this section and Sec. Sec.  17.4 and 17.5, it is unlawful for any 
person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to commit, to 
attempt to commit, to solicit another to commit, or cause to be 
committed, any of the following acts in regard to this species:
    (i) Import or export, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(b).
    (ii) Take, unless excepted as outlined in section (2)(i-iv) below.
    (iii) Possession and other acts with unlawfully taken specimens, as 
set forth at Sec.  17.21(d)(1).
    (iv) Interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial 
activity, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(e).
    (v) Sale or offer for sale, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(f).
    (2) Exceptions from prohibitions. In regard to this species, you 
    (i) Conduct activities as authorized by an existing permit under 
Sec.  17.32.
    (ii) Conduct activities as authorized by a permit issued prior to 
[effective date of the rule] under Sec.  17.22 for the duration of the 
    (iii) Take, as set forth at Sec.  17.21(c)(2) through (c)(4).
    (iv) Take June sucker while carrying out the following legally 
conducted activities in accordance with this paragraph:
    (A) Definitions. For the purposes of this paragraph:
    (1) Qualified biologist means a full-time fish biologist or aquatic 
resources manager employed by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, a 
Department of Interior agency, or fish biologist or aquatic resource 
manager employed by a private consulting firm that has been approved by 
the Service, the designated recovery program, or the Utah Division of 
Wildlife resources.
    (2) Reasonable care means limiting the impacts to June sucker 
individuals and population by complying with all applicable Federal, 
State, and Tribal regulations for the activity in question; using 
methods and techniques that result in the least harm, injury, or death, 
as feasible; undertaking activities at the least impactful times and 
locations, as feasible; procuring and implementing technical assistance 
from a qualified biologist on projects regarding all methods prior to 
the implementation of those methods; ensuring the number of individuals 
removed or sampled minimally impacts the existing wild population; 
ensuring no disease or parasites are introduced into the existing June 
sucker population; and preserving the genetic diversity of wild 
    (B) Allowable forms of take of June sucker. Take of June sucker as 
a result of the following legally conducted activities is not 
prohibited under this paragraph section (2)(iv)(B), provided that the 
activity is approved by the Service, in coordination with any existing 
designated recovery program, for the purpose of the conservation or 
recovery of June sucker, and that reasonable care is practiced to 
minimize the impact of such activities.
    (1) Nonnative fish removal. Any action with the primary or 
secondary purpose of removing from Utah Lake and its tributaries 
nonnative fish that compete with, predate, or degrade the habitat of 
June sucker is not prohibited take. Allowable methods of removal may 
include but are not limited to mechanical removal, chemical treatments, 
or biological controls. Whenever possible, June sucker that are caught 
alive as part of nonnative fish removal should be returned to their 
source as quickly as possible.
    (2) Habitat restoration and improvement of instream flows. Any 
action with the primary or secondary purpose of improving habitat 
conditions in Utah Lake and its tributaries or improving water delivery 
and available in-stream flows in spawning tributaries is not prohibited 
    (3) Monitoring. Any method that is used to detect June sucker in 
the wild to better understand population numbers, trends, or response 
to stressors, and that is not intended to be destructive but that may 
unintentionally cause harm or death, is not considered prohibited take.
    (4) Research. Any activity undertaken for the purposes of 
increasing understanding of June sucker biology, ecology, or recovery 
needs under the auspices of UDWR, a recognized academic institution, or 
a qualified scientific contractor and approved by the Service, in 
coordination with any existing designated recovery program, as

[[Page 65098]]

a necessary and productive study for June sucker recovery is exempted. 
Incidental and limited direct take resulting from research to benefit 
June sucker is not prohibited.
    (5) Refuges and stocking. Any take resulting from activities 
undertaken for the long-term maintenance of June sucker at facilities 
outside of Utah Lake and its tributaries or for the production of June 
sucker for stocking in Utah Lake is not prohibited.

    Dated: September 24, 2019.
Margaret E. Everson,
Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Authority of the Director, 
for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-25549 Filed 11-25-19; 8:45 am]