Designation of Critical Habitat for the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow; Final Rule

February 19, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 33)] [Rules and Regulations] [Page 8087-8135]

Designation of Critical Habitat for the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow; Final Rule

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule: notice of availability.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), designate critical habitat for the Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus) (silvery minnow), an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).

On June 6, 2002, we proposed that 212 miles (mi) (339 kilometers (km)) be designated as critical habitat for the silvery minnow.

The silvery minnow critical habitat designation in the Rio Grande extends from Cochiti Dam, Sandoval County, New Mexico (NM) downstream to the utility line crossing the Rio Grande, a permanent identified landmark in Socorro County, NM, a total of approximately 157 mi (252 km), referred to as the "middle Rio Grande.''

The designation also includes the tributary Jemez River from Jemez Canyon Dam in NM to the upstream boundary of Santa Ana Pueblo, which is not included. The critical habitat designation defines the lateral extent (width) as those areas bounded by existing levees or, in areas without levees, 300 feet (ft) (91.4 meters (m)) of riparian zone adjacent to each side of the bankfull stage of the middle Rio Grande.

The Pueblo lands of Santo Domingo, Santa Ana, Sandia, and Isleta within this area are not included in the final critical habitat designation.

Except for these areas, the final remaining portion of the silvery minnow's occupied range in the middle Rio Grande in NM is being designated as critical habitat.

This publication also provides notice of the availability of the final economic analysis and the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this final rule.

This final rule and EIS are being issued pursuant to a court order.

On November 21, 2000, the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, in Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District v. Babbitt, 206 F. Supp. 2d 1156 (D.N.M. 2000), set aside the July 6, 1999, critical habitat designation for the minnow and ordered us to issue both an EIS pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a new proposed rule designating critical habitat for the silvery minnow.

DATES: This final rule is effective March 21, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this final rule, are available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113.

You may obtain copies of the final rule, the economic analysis, or the final EIS from the field office address above or by calling 505-346-2525. All documents are also available from our Web site at

If you would like copies of the regulations on listed wildlife or have questions about prohibitions and permits, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Field Supervisor, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section above); telephone: 505-346-2525. Division of Endangered Species (see ADDRESSES section above); telephone 505-248-6920; facsimile 505-248-6788.