[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 8 (Wednesday, January 12, 2022)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1774-1776]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-00362]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2021-0136; FXES11130200000-212-FF02ENEH00]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery 
Plan for the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of our draft recovery plan for the New Mexico meadow 
jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius luteus). This subspecies occurs in 
riparian habitats in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Colorado, and 
was listed as endangered in 2014 under the Endangered Species Act. We 
request review and comment on this draft recovery plan from local, 
State, and Federal agencies; Tribes; nongovernmental organizations; and 
the public.

DATES: We must receive any comments on or before March 14, 2022. 
Comments submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov (see ADDRESSES) 
must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 14, 2022.

ADDRESSES: 
    Obtaining Documents: You may obtain a copy of the draft recovery 
plan and species status assessment by the following methods:
     Internet: Go to one of the following sites:
    [cir] http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2021-0136;
    [cir] http://ecos.fws.gov/ecp/species/7965; or
    [cir] https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/NewMexico/.
     U.S. mail: Send a request to U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (NMESFO), 2105 
Osuna NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113.
     Telephone: 505-346-2525 or 800-299-0196.
    Submitting Comments: Submit your comments in writing by one of the 
following methods:
     Internet: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for and 
submit comments on Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2021-0136.
     U.S. mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. 
FWS-R2-ES-2021-0136; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: 
PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    For additional information about submitting comments, see Request 
for Public Comments and Public Availability of Comments under 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shawn Sartorius, Field Supervisor, at 
505-346-2525, or by email at [email protected]. Individuals who are 
hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-
877-8339 for TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS), announce the availability of our draft recovery plan for New 
Mexico meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius luteus), which we listed 
as endangered in 2014 (79 FR 33119) under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The subspecies is 
endemic to New Mexico, Arizona, and a small area of southern Colorado. 
It nests in dry soils and uses dense riparian vegetation up to an 
elevation of about 9,500 feet. The draft recovery plan includes 
specific goals, objectives, and criteria that may help to inform our 
consideration of whether to reclassify the species as threatened (i.e., 
``downlist'') or remove the subspecies from the Federal List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (i.e., ``delist''). We request 
review of and comment on the draft recovery plan from local, State, and 
Federal agencies; Tribes; nongovernmental organizations; and the 
public.

Recovery Planning and Implementation

    Section 4(f) of the ESA requires the development of recovery plans 
for listed species, unless such a plan would not promote the 
conservation of a particular species. Also pursuant to section 4(f) of 
the ESA, a recovery plan must, to the maximum extent practicable, 
include:
    (1) A description of site-specific management actions as may be 
necessary to achieve the plan's goals for the conservation and survival 
of the species;
    (2) Objective, measurable criteria that, when met, would support a 
determination under section 4(a)(1) that the species should be removed 
from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species; and
    (3) Estimates of the time and costs required to carry out those 
measures needed to achieve the plan's goal and to achieve intermediate 
steps toward that goal.
    In 2016 the USFWS revised its approach to recovery planning, and is 
now using a process termed recovery planning and implementation (RPI) 
(see https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/RPI.pdf). The RPI 
approach is intended to reduce the time needed to develop and implement 
recovery plans, increase recovery plan relevance over a longer 
timeframe, and add flexibility to recovery plans so they can be 
adjusted to new information or circumstances. Under RPI, a recovery 
plan addresses the statutorily required elements under section 4(f) of 
the Act, including site-specific management actions, objective and 
measurable recovery criteria, and the estimated time and cost to 
recovery. The RPI recovery plan is supported by two supplementary 
documents: A species status assessment (SSA), which describes the best

[[Page 1775]]

available scientific information related to the biological needs of the 
species and assessment of threats, and a recovery implementation 
strategy, which details the particular near-term activities needed to 
implement the recovery actions identified in the recovery plan. Under 
this approach, we can more nimbly incorporate new information on 
species biology or details of recovery implementation by updating these 
supplementary documents without concurrent revision of the entire 
recovery plan, unless changes to statutorily required elements are 
necessary.

Species Background

    On June 10, 2014, we published a final rule (79 FR 33119) to list 
the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as endangered. On March 16, 2016, 
we published a final rule (81 FR 14264) designating critical habitat 
for the subspecies. The New Mexico meadow jumping mouse is a small (181 
to 233 millimeters (mm); 7.1 to 9.2 inches (in) in total length) dark 
brown rodent with an extremely long, bicolored tail (125.1 mm; 4.9 in), 
with a white underside and yellowish-brown sides. It is a true 
hibernator, hibernating from October through May, and is active from 
late May or early June into early October. The subspecies occurs within 
elevations ranging from approximately 1,372 m (4,500 ft) up to 
approximately 2,896 m (9,500 ft). It is a habitat specialist that 
requires dense riparian herbaceous vegetation with a minimum height of 
61 cm (24 in) associated with seasonally available or perennial 
(persistent) flowing water, moist soils, and adjacent uplands that can 
support the vegetation characteristics needed for jumping mouse 
foraging, breeding, and hibernating.
    Past and current habitat loss has resulted in the extirpation of 
historical populations and has reduced the size and increased the 
isolation of existing populations. The primary sources of current and 
anticipated future habitat loss include (1) livestock, elk, and feral 
horse grazing pressure that is incompatible with maintaining needed 
vegetation structure and diversity (i.e., contributes to riparian 
herbaceous vegetation loss); (2) incompatible water management and use 
(e.g., dams and water diversion and mowing along irrigation ditches); 
(3) lack of water due to drought (exacerbated by climate change); and 
(4) severe wildland fires that cause changes to riparian habitat (also 
exacerbated by climate change). Additional sources of habitat loss are 
likely to occur from post-fire scouring floods, stream incision 
resulting in disconnection of the floodplain from the stream channel, 
loss of beaver ponds, highway construction and maintenance, residential 
and commercial development, coalbed methane development, and 
unregulated recreation.

Recovery Criteria

    The draft recovery criteria are summarized below. For a complete 
description of the rationale behind the objective, measurable criteria, 
the recovery strategy, site-specific management actions, and estimated 
time and costs associated with recovery, refer to the draft recovery 
plan for New Mexico meadow jumping mouse (see ADDRESSES for document 
availability).
    The ultimate recovery goal is to delist the subspecies by ensuring 
the long-term viability in the wild. The New Mexico meadow jumping 
mouse currently is known to occur within thirteen 8th hydrological unit 
code (HUC8) subunits distributed across the subspecies' historical 
range in eastern Arizona, southern Colorado, and New Mexico. The 
thirteen HUC8s are within six geographical units (GUs) that contain the 
currently known populations. In the recovery plan, we define the 
following criteria for downlisting and delisting.

Downlisting Criteria

    Criterion 1: Occupied riparian and adjacent upland New Mexico 
meadow jumping mouse habitat within each of 13 HUC8s are protected, 
maintained, and/or restored.
    Criterion 2: Within an occupied HUC8, an overall stable or 
increasing New Mexico meadow jumping mouse estimate population trend is 
documented over an 8-year period.
    Criterion 3: Threats to New Mexico meadow jumping mouse are 
decreasing or abated when the protection and expansion of occupied New 
Mexico meadow jumping mouse riparian functionally connected habitat and 
adjacent upland habitat meet Criteria 1 and 2.
    Criterion 4: At least one HUC8 in each of the GUs has functional 
habitat and population(s) maintained as to meet criteria 1 and 2 above, 
to ensure genetic and ecological representation.

Delisting Criteria

    Criterion 1: Occupied riparian and adjacent upland New Mexico 
meadow jumping mouse habitat within each of 16 HUC8s are protected, 
maintained, and/or restored.
    Criterion 2: Within an occupied HUC8, an overall stable or 
increasing New Mexico meadow jumping mouse estimated population trend 
is documented over a 12-year period.
    Criterion 3: Threats to New Mexico meadow jumping mouse are 
decreasing or abated when the protection and expansion of occupied New 
Mexico meadow jumping mouse riparian functionally connected habitat and 
adjacent upland habitat meet Criteria 1 and 2, and significant threats 
that include excessive grazing, ineffective water management and/or 
water diversions, stream degradation, and stream incision with flood 
plain disconnection are controlled or managed to the extent that they 
do not pose imminent or chronic downward pressures on the New Mexico 
meadow jumping mouse and its habitat.
    Criterion 4: At least two HUC8s in each of the GUs have functional 
habitat and populations maintained as to meet criteria 1 and 2 above to 
ensure genetic and ecological representation.

Request for Public Comments

    Section 4(f) of the ESA requires us to provide public notice and an 
opportunity for public review and comment during recovery plan 
development. It is also our policy to request peer review of recovery 
plans (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994). In an appendix to the final recovery 
plan, we will summarize and respond to the issues raised during public 
comment and peer review. Substantive comments may or may not result in 
changes to the recovery plan. Comments regarding recovery plan 
implementation will be forwarded as appropriate to Federal agencies or 
other entities so that they can be taken into account during the course 
of implementation of recovery actions.
    We invite written comments on this draft recovery plan. In 
particular, we are interested in additional information regarding the 
current threats to the species, ongoing beneficial management efforts, 
and the costs associated with implementing the recommended recovery 
actions. The species status assessment is accessible as a supporting 
document for the draft recovery plan, but we are not seeking comments 
on that document. We will consider all comments we receive by the date 
specified in DATES, above, prior to final approval of the plan.

Public Availability of Comments

    All comments we receive, including names and addresses, will become 
part of the administrative record and will be available to the public. 
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other 
personal identifying information in your comment, you

[[Page 1776]]

should be aware that your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--will be publicly available. While you may 
request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Authority

    We developed our draft recovery plan and publish this notice under 
the authority of section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Amy L. Lueders,
Regional Director, Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2022-00362 Filed 1-11-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P