Coho Salmon

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), are issuing a final rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as
amended, that redefines the geographic range of the endangered Central California Coast (CCC) coho salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) to include all naturally spawned populations of coho salmon that occur in Soquel and Aptos creeks.

Information supporting this boundary change includes recent observations of coho salmon in Soquel Creek, genetic analysis of these fish indicating they are derived from other nearby populations in the ESU, and the presence of freshwater habitat conditions and watershed processes in Soquel and Aptos Creeks that are similar to those found in closely adjacent watersheds that support coho salmon populations that are part of the ESU. We have also reassessed the status of this ESU throughout its redefined range and conclude that it continues to be endangered.

DATES: Effective June 1, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources
Division, Attn: Craig Wingert, Southwest Region, National Marine
Fisheries Service, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 5200, Long Beach, CA,
90802-4213.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Wingert, NMFS, Southwest Region,
(562) 980-4021; or Dwayne Meadows, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources,
(301) 427-8403.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The Central California Coast (CCC) coho salmon Evolutionarily
Significant Unit (ESU) was listed as a threatened species on October
31, 1996 (61 FR 56138) and subsequently reclassified as an endangered
species on June 28, 2005 (70 FR 37160). At the time it was reclassified
as endangered in 2005, the ESU was defined to include all naturally
spawning populations of coho salmon found in coastal watersheds from
Punta Gorda in northern California southward to and including the San
Lorenzo River in central California, as well as four artificially
propagated stocks of coho salmon. For more information on the status,
biology, and habitat of this coho salmon ESU, see ``Endangered and
Threatened Species: Final Listing Determinations for 16 ESUs of West
Coast Salmonids and Final 4(d) Protective Regulations for Threatened
Salmonid ESUs; Final Rule'' (70 FR 37160; June 28, 2005) and ``Final
Rule Endangered and Threatened Species; Threatened Status for Central
California Coast Coho Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU)''
(61 FR 56138; October 31, 1996).


The geographic boundaries of west coast coho salmon ESUs ranging
from British Columbia to central California were originally delineated
as part of a west coast status review for the species (Weitkamp et al.,
1995). In defining ESU boundaries for west coast coho salmon, NMFS
considered a wide range of information including genetic and life
history information for natural and hatchery populations, and
environmental and habitat information for those watersheds that
supported coho salmon either historically or at the time of the review.
Based on a consideration of the best available information at that
time, Weitkamp et al. (1995) concluded that the southern boundary of
the CCC coho salmon ESU was the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz County,
California. Weitkamp et al. (1995) also recognized that coho salmon
could also occur in watersheds south of the San Lorenzo River and,
therefore, concluded that any fish found spawning south of the San
Lorenzo River that were not the result of non-native stock transfers
from outside the ESU should be considered part of the ESU.


In 2003, NMFS received a petition to delist those populations of
the CCC coho salmon ESU that spawn in coastal streams south of the
entrance to San Francisco Bay. The petition was eventually accepted by
NMFS (75 FR 16745; April 2, 2010), which triggered a formal status
review focused on determining whether the populations south of the
entrance to San Francisco Bay were part of the ESU, what the
appropriate southern boundary of the ESU should be, and the biological
status of any revised ESU. In conducting this status review, new
information became available indicating that the range of the ESU
should be extended southward (Spence et al., 2011). This information
included observations of coho salmon in Soquel Creek in 2008, genetic
analysis of tissue samples indicating that the fish from Soquel Creek
were closely related to nearby coho salmon populations in the ESU, and
the ecological similarity of Soquel and Aptos creeks with other nearby
creeks that support coho salmon. Based on this information, a review of
the biological status of coho salmon populations within this ESU
(Spence and Williams, 2011), and a consideration of the five factors
listed under Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA, we proposed moving the
southern boundary of the ESU south from the San Lorenzo River to
include any coho salmon found in Soquel and Aptos creeks (76 FR 6383;
February 4, 2011).

Summary of Peer Review and Public Comments on Proposed CCC Coho Salmon
ESU Range Extension

Peer Review Comments
    In December 2004, the Office of Management (OMB) issued a Final
Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review establishing minimum
standards for peer review. Similarly, a joint NMFS/U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (FWS) Policy for Peer Review in Endangered Species Act
Activities (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994) requires us to solicit
independent expert review from at least three qualified specialists on
proposed listing determinations. Accordingly, we solicited reviews from
three scientific peer reviewers having expertise with coho salmon in
California and received comments from all three reviewers. We carefully
reviewed the peer review comments and have addressed them as
appropriate in this final rule.

Revised Geographic Range of CCC Coho Salmon ESU

    The ESU boundaries for west coast coho salmon, ranging from
southern British Columbia to Central California, were first delineated
in a 1994 status review (Weitkamp et al., 1995). In delineating these
ESU boundaries, a wide range of information pertaining to West Coast
coho salmon throughout its range was considered, including geographic
variables, ecological and habitat variables, genetic variation among
populations, and variation in life history traits among populations. In
the 1995 proposal to list the CCC coho salmon ESU (60 FR 38011), NMFS indicated that the southern boundary of
the ESU was the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz County based on the
best available information at that time.

    The 1994 status review (Weitkamp et al., 1995) recognized that the
rivers draining the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco Bay
formed a cohesive group with respect to environmental conditions, and
therefore, concluded that the Pajaro River was likely the historical
southern limit of coho salmon in the area. In determining where the
southern boundary of the CCC coho salmon ESU should be placed, the
status review analysis relied heavily on information provided in a 1993
status review of coho salmon in Scott and Waddell creeks (Bryant,
1994), which indicated there were no recent reports of coho salmon in
rivers south of the San Lorenzo River. Faced with uncertainty about
whether any coho salmon populations were present south of the San
Lorenzo River and the uncertain origin of coho salmon in the San
Lorenzo River, Weitkamp et al. (1995) concluded that the San Lorenzo
River should be the southern-most basin in the ESU and that any coho
salmon found spawning south of the San Lorenzo River that were not the
result of non-ESU origin stock transfers should be considered part of
the ESU.

    In reviewing the petition to delist coho salmon populations south
of San Francisco Bay, the BRT reviewed recently collected information
on the distribution of coho salmon in this area (Spence et al., 2011).
Based on this new information and other information indicating that
freshwater habitat conditions and watershed processes in Soquel and
Aptos creeks were similar to those found in nearby watersheds within
the ESU, the BRT recommended that the southern boundary of the CCC coho
salmon ESU be moved southward from the San Lorenzo River to include
coho salmon occurring in Soquel and Aptos creeks. The new information
supporting this recommendation included: (1) Observations of juvenile
coho salmon in Soquel Creek in 2008 and (2) genetic information
obtained from the juvenile coho salmon observed in Soquel Creek
indicating the fish were closely related to populations in nearby
watersheds.

    During the summer of 2008, juvenile coho salmon were observed in
Soquel Creek by NMFS scientists for the first time in many years.
Soquel Creek enters the Pacific Ocean about 6.5 km south of the San
Lorenzo River. A total of approximately 170 juvenile fish were observed
in the East Branch of Soquel Creek and some were photographed. These
observations demonstrated that suitable spawning and rearing habitat
for coho salmon occurs in Soquel Creek. A total of 28 of these fish
were captured for tissue sampling and subsequent genetic analysis.
Genetic analyses of these samples used 18 microsatellite loci to
genotype the fish, investigate the origins of their parents, and to
estimate the minimum number of reproductive events that contributed to
the observed juveniles. Standard genetic stock identification
techniques were used with a baseline reference database that included
representative stocks from all regional California groups of coho
salmon. The Soquel Creek fish were compared to coho salmon from a south
of San Francisco Bay reference population (Scott Creek in Santa Cruz
County, California) and it was determined, with very high confidence,
that they were closely related. This analysis demonstrated that the
juvenile fish observed in Soquel Creek were the progeny of locally
produced adults returning to reproduce in nearby streams, and that they
were native to streams draining the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San
Francisco Bay.

    Genetic analysis of tissue samples from these juveniles (Garza et
al., unpublished as cited in Spence et al., 2011) also revealed that
they were produced by a minimum of two reproductive events in Soquel
Creek, rather than by a single pair of fish randomly straying into the
watershed. The analysis only determined the minimum number of spawning
parents, so it is possible that additional reproductive events occurred
in Soquel Creek in 2008. This information strongly supports our
conclusion that the fish in Soquel Creek are part of the CCC coho
salmon ESU.

    In reviewing the ecological conditions of streams south of San
Francisco Bay that originate from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Spence et
al. (2011) noted that a significant ecological transition occurs
immediately south of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with the northern edge
of the Salinas Valley marking the boundary between an area with cool,
wet redwood forests to the north and an area with warm, drier chaparral
landscapes to the south where small relic redwood forests are primarily
confined to riparian areas near the coast. The Soquel and Aptos
watersheds occur within the Coast Range Ecoregion, which runs almost
continuously from the Oregon border to the southern boundary of the
Santa Cruz Mountains (the northern edge of the Pajaro River basin) and
includes all the streams originating from the Santa Cruz Mountains
south of San Francisco. Soquel and Aptos creeks exhibit ecological,
climatic, and habitat attributes similar to streams historically and/or
presently occupied by coho salmon elsewhere in this Ecoregion,
indicating they provide habitat that is suitable for coho salmon.

Status of the CCC Coho Salmon ESU

    Status reviews by Weitkamp et al. (1995), Good et al. (2005), and
Spence and Williams (2011) have all concluded that the CCC coho salmon
ESU is in danger of extinction. NMFS listed this ESU as threatened in
1996 (61 FR 56138) and reclassified its status as endangered in 2005
(71 FR 834). The status reviews by Weitkamp et al. (1995) and Good et
al. (2005) cited concerns over low abundance and long-term downward
trends in abundance throughout the ESU, as well as the extirpation or
near extirpation of populations across most of the southern two-thirds
of the ESU's historical range, including several major river basins.
They further cited as risk factors the potential loss of genetic
diversity associated with the reduction in range and the loss of one or
more brood lineages in some populations coupled with the historical
influence of hatchery fish (Good et al., 2005).

    As part of a recent 5-year status review update for listed salmon
and steelhead in California, Spence and Williams (2011) updated the
biological status of the CCC coho salmon ESU, taking into consideration
the recent discovery of coho salmon in Soquel Creek. Their review
concluded that despite the lack of long-term data on coho salmon
abundance, available information from recent short-term research and
monitoring efforts demonstrates that the status of coho populations in
this ESU has worsened since it was reviewed in 2005 (Good et al.,
2005). For all available time series, recent population trends were
downward, in many cases significantly so, with particularly poor adult
returns from 2006 to 2010. Based on population viability criteria that
were developed to support preparation of the draft recovery plan for
this ESU (Bjorkstedt et al., 2005; Spence et al., 2008), all of its
independent populations in the ESU are well below low-risk abundance
targets (e.g., Ten Mile River, Noyo River, Albion River), and several
are, if not extirpated, below high-risk depensation thresholds (e.g.,
San Lorenzo River, Pescadero Creek, Gualala River). Though population-
level estimates of abundance for most independent populations are
lacking, it does not appear that any of the five diversity strata
identified by Bjorkstedt et al.


(2005) for this ESU currently support a single viable population based
on the viability criteria developed by Spence et al. (2008). Based on a
consideration of all new substantive information regarding the
biological status of this ESU, including the recent discovery of
juvenile coho salmon in Soquel Creek, Spence and Williams (2011)
concluded that the CCC coho salmon ESU continues to be in danger of
extinction and that its overall extinction risk has increased since
2005. We concur.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Revised CCC Coho Salmon ESU

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

    Our review of factors affecting the CCC coho salmon ESU concluded
that logging, agriculture, mining activities, urbanization, stream
channelization, dams, wetland loss, water withdrawals, and unscreened
diversions have contributed to its decline. Land-use activities
associated with logging, road construction, urban development, mining,
agriculture, and recreation have significantly altered coho salmon
habitat quantity and quality (61 FR 56138, October 31, 1996; 70 FR
37150, June 28, 2005). Impacts of these activities include alteration
of streambank and channel morphology, alteration of ambient stream
water temperatures, elimination of spawning and rearing habitat,
fragmentation of available habitats, elimination of downstream
recruitment of spawning gravels and large woody debris, removal of
riparian vegetation resulting in increased stream bank erosion, and
degradation of water quality (61 FR 56138, October 31, 1966; 70 FR
37150, June 28, 2005).

    Land-use and extraction activities leading to habitat modification
can have significant direct and indirect impacts to coho salmon
populations. Land-use activities associated with residential and
commercial development, road construction, use and maintenance,
recreation, and past logging practices have significantly altered coho
salmon freshwater habitat quantity and quality throughout this ESU, as
well as in the Aptos and Soquel watersheds. Associated impacts of these
activities include alteration of streambank and channel morphology,
alteration of ambient stream water temperatures, degradation of water
quality, elimination of spawning and rearing habitats, removal of
instream large woody debris that forms pool habitats and overwintering
refugia, removal of riparian vegetation resulting in increased bank
erosion, loss of floodplain habitats and associated refugia, and
increased sedimentation input into spawning and rearing areas resulting
in the loss of channel complexity, pool habitat, and suitable gravel
substrate.

    The loss and degradation of habitats and instream flow conditions
were identified as threats to coho salmon in Soquel and Aptos creeks in
the draft recovery plan for this ESU (NMFS, 2010). Although many
historically harmful practices have been halted, particularly removal
of large woody debris by Santa Cruz County, much of the historical
damage to habitats limiting coho salmon in these watersheds remains to
be addressed. Habitat restoration activities and threat abatement
actions will likely require more focused effort and time to stabilize
and improve habitat conditions in order to improve the survival of coho
salmon in these watersheds. Additionally, some land-use practices such
as water diversions, floodplain development, unauthorized removal of
inchannel woody debris, quarrying, and road maintenance practices
continue to pose risks to the survival of local coho salmon
populations. Insufficient flow during the summer due to authorized and
unauthorized water diversions is likely one of the most significant
limiting factors to coho salmon, particularly on the lower mainstem of
Soquel Creek.

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

    Commercial and recreational fisheries are closed for coho salmon in
California; however, coho salmon in this ESU can still be incidentally
captured in fisheries for other species. The impacts to coho salmon of
this type of incidental bycatch are poorly understood, but may be
significant in watersheds where population abundance is low.
Recreational fishing for steelhead is allowed in Soquel and Aptos
creeks, and coho salmon, if present, may unintentionally be caught by
anglers targeting steelhead. The risk of unintentional capture is
believed to be higher in these watersheds than in many other coastal
streams with coho salmon because the current State of California
fishing regulations allow catch and release of steelhead based on
calendar dates regardless of river flow. Steelhead fishing season opens
on December 1, which is a time of year when coho salmon typically begin
their upstream migration and is typically one month before the main
steelhead migration. Fishing for steelhead during low-flow periods may
expose coho salmon adults to increased rates of incidental capture and
injury.

    At the time the CCC coho salmon ESU was listed in 1996, collection
for scientific research and educational programs was believed to have
little or no impact on California coho salmon populations. In
California, most scientific collection permits are issued by CDFG and
NMFS to environmental consultants, Federal resource agencies, and
educational institutions. Regulation of take is achieved by
conditioning individual research permits (61 FR 56138, October 31,
1996). Given the extremely low population levels throughout this ESU,
but especially in watersheds south of San Francisco Bay, any
collections could have significant impacts on local populations and
need to be carefully controlled and monitored. In Soquel and Aptos
creeks, two researchers are currently sampling juvenile salmonid
populations using electrofishing as part of their sampling methodology.
Only one researcher is authorized to capture coho salmon and the other
must stop collections if juvenile coho salmon are detected.

C. Disease or Predation

    Relative to the effects of habitat degradation, disease and
predation were not believed to be major factors contributing to the
decline of West Coast coho salmon populations in general or for this
ESU in particular. Nevertheless, disease and predation could have
substantial adverse impacts in localized areas. Specific diseases known
to be present in the ESU and affect salmonids are discussed in a
previous listing determination (69 FR 33102; June 14, 2004). No
historical or current information is available to estimate infection
levels or mortality rates for coho salmon attributable to these
diseases.

    Habitat conditions such as low water flows and high water
temperatures can exacerbate susceptibility to infectious diseases (69
FR 33102). The large quantity of water diverted from Soquel Creek,
which results in decreased summer flows, may increase the
susceptibility of rearing coho salmon to disease and predation. Avian
predators have been shown to impact some juvenile salmonids in
freshwater and near shore environments. In Scott Creek, which is near
Soquel and Aptos creeks, NMFS staff (Hayes, personnel communication)
have documented substantial predation impacts on out-migrating salmonid
smolts, based on the discovery of pit tags in gull nesting areas.
Predation may significantly influence salmonid abundance in some
local populations when other prey species are absent and physical
conditions lead to the concentration of adults and juveniles (Cooper
and Johnson, 1992). Low flow conditions in these watersheds may enhance
predation opportunities, particularly in streams where adult coho
salmon may congregate at the mouth of streams waiting for high flows
for access (CDFG, 1995). These types of conditions could significantly
impact coho salmon in Soquel Creek because of the low abundance of fish
in that watershed. Marine predation (i.e., seals and sea lions) is a
concern in some areas given the dwindling abundance of coho salmon
across the range of this ESU; however, such predation is generally
considered by most investigators and the BRT to be an insignificant
contributor to the population declines that have been observed in
Central California.

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    At the time this ESU was originally listed, most Federal and non-
Federal regulatory efforts were not found to adequately protect coho
salmon due to a variety of factors including uncertain funding and
implementation, the voluntary nature of many programs, or simply their
ineffectiveness. Detailed information on regulatory mechanisms and
other protective efforts for coho salmon is provided in NMFS' Draft
Recovery Plan for this ESU (NMFS, 2010) and the 1996 and 2005 final
listing determinations for this ESU. Since the original listing
determination for this ESU in 1996, few significant improvements in
regulatory mechanisms have been made aside from efforts implemented
under the ESA (i.e., NMFS' efforts under section 7 of the ESA and the
designation of critical habitat for this ESU). A variety of State and
Federal regulatory mechanisms exist to protect coho salmon habitat, but
they have not been adequately implemented (61 FR 56138; October 31,
1996). Overall, we believe that most current regulatory mechanisms and/
or other protective efforts are not sufficiently certain to be
implemented and/or are not effective in reducing threats to coho salmon
in this ESU (70 FR 37160; June 28, 2005).

    In Soquel and Aptos creeks, one recent beneficial regulatory change
has been the termination of funding for Santa Cruz County's in-stream
wood removal program in 2009. Curtailment of this program is expected
to eventually result in improvements to summer and winter rearing
habitat for coho salmon in the County. Problems with other regulatory
efforts, including poor oversight and enforcement of State water law
pertaining to permitted and unpermitted diversions, are a significant
concern in Soquel and Aptos creeks.

E. Other Natural or Human-Made Factors Affecting Its Continued
Existence

    Long-term trends in rainfall and marine productivity associated
with atmospheric conditions in the North Pacific Ocean have a major
influence on coho salmon production on the West Coast. Natural climatic
conditions may have exacerbated or mitigated the problems associated
with degraded and altered freshwater and estuarine habitats that coho
salmon depend upon (69 FR 33102). Detailed discussions of these factors
can be found the 1996 and 2005 listing determinations for this ESU (61
FR 56138, October 31, 1996 and 70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005,
respectively). No significant changes to this listing factor have
occurred since the original listing, although the risk of climate
change may well have increased.

    The best available scientific information indicates that the
Earth's climate is warming, driven by the accumulation of greenhouse
gasses in the atmosphere (Oreskes, 2004; Battin et al., 2007; Lindley
et al., 2007). Because coho salmon depend upon freshwater streams and
the ocean during their life cycle, most if not all populations in this
ESU, including those in Soquel and Aptos creeks, are likely to be
impacted by climate change in the decades ahead, though the type and
magnitude of these impacts are difficult to predict at this time.

Final Determination

    Based on a consideration of the best available information,
including new information on the presence of coho salmon in Soquel
Creek, genetic data indicating the fish from Soquel Creek are closely
related to fish from nearby watersheds, the similarity of habitat in
Soquel and Aptos creeks to that in nearby watersheds presently or
historically supporting coho salmon, and the proximity of Soquel and
Aptos creeks to nearby watersheds supporting coho salmon, we conclude
that the southern boundary of the CCC coho salmon ESU should be moved
southward to include Soquel and Aptos creeks in Santa Cruz County,
California. Based on an updated status assessment of coho salmon
populations throughout the range of the ESU, including the recent
discovery of juvenile coho salmon in Soquel Creek, and consideration of
the factors affecting this species throughout the range of the ESU, we
conclude that the redefined ESU continues to be an endangered species.

Section 9 Take Prohibitions and Other Protections

    The CCC coho salmon ESU is an endangered species and Section 9 of
the ESA prohibits certain activities that directly or indirectly affect
endangered species. The section 9(a) prohibitions apply to all
individuals, organizations, and agencies subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
Section 9 prohibitions apply automatically to endangered species such
as the CCC coho salmon ESU, throughout its range. As a result of this
range extension, the section 9 take prohibitions now will apply to all
naturally produced coho salmon in Soquel and Aptos creeks.

    Section 7(a) of the ESA, as amended, requires Federal agencies to
evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is listed as
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if
any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency
cooperation provision of the ESA are codified at 50 CFR part 402.
Section 7(a)(4) of the ESA requires Federal agencies to confer with us
on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a
species proposed for listing or result in the destruction or adverse
modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is subsequently
listed, section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that
activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to
jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or
adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a
listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency
must enter into consultation with us under the provisions of section
7(a)(2). Federal agencies and actions that may be affected by the
revision of the CCC coho salmon ESU include the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and its issuance of permits under the Clean Water Act.

    Sections 10(a)(1)(A) and 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provide us with
authority to grant exceptions to the ESA's ``take'' prohibitions.
Section 10(a)(1)(A) scientific research and enhancement permits may be
issued to entities (Federal and non-Federal) for scientific purposes or
to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species. NMFS
has issued section 10(a)(1)(A) research/enhancement permits for listed
salmonids, including CCC coho salmon, to conduct activities such as
trapping and tagging and other research and monitoring activities.

    Section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental take permits may be issued to non-
Federal entities conducting activities that may incidentally take
listed species so long as the taking is incidental to, and not the
purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity. The types
of activities potentially requiring a section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental
take permit include, but are not limited to, state-regulated angling,
academic research not receiving Federal authorization or funding, road
building, timber management, grazing, and diverting water onto private
lands.

NMFS' Policies on Endangered and Threatened Fish and Wildlife

    NMFS and the FWS published a policy in the Federal Register on July
1, 1994 (59 FR 34272) indicating that both agencies would identify, to
the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those
activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9
of the ESA. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness
of the effect of this listing on proposed and ongoing activities within
the species range. Based on the best available information, we believe
that the following actions are unlikely to result in a violation of
section 9 for coho salmon in this ESU, including Soquel and Aptos
creeks:

    1. Any incidental take of listed fish from this ESU resulting from
an otherwise lawful activity conducted in accordance with the
conditions of an incidental take permit issued by NMFS under section 10
of the ESA;

    2. Any action authorized, funded, or carried out by a Federal
agency that is likely to adversely affect listed fish from this ESU
when the action is conducted in accordance with the terms and
conditions of an incidental take statement issued by NMFS under section
7 of the ESA;

    3. Any action carried out for scientific purposes or to enhance the
propagation or survival of listed fish from this ESU that is conducted
in accordance with the conditions of a permit issued by NMFS under
section 10 of the ESA

    Activities that are likely to result in a violation of section 9
prohibitions against the ``taking'' of fish from this ESU include, but
are not limited to, the following:

    1. Unauthorized killing, collecting, handling, or harassing of
individual fish from this ESU;

    2. Land-use activities that adversely affect habitats supporting
coho salmon, such as logging, development, road construction in
riparian areas and in areas susceptible to mass wasting and surface
erosion;

    3. Destruction/alteration of the habitats supporting coho salmon,
such as removal of large woody debris and ``sinker logs'' or riparian
shade canopy, dredging, discharge of fill material, sandbar breaching,
draining, ditching, diverting, blocking, or altering stream channels or
surface or ground water flow;

    4. Discharges or dumping of toxic chemicals or other pollutants
(e.g., sewage, oil, gasoline) into waters or riparian areas supporting
coho salmon in the ESU;

    5. Violation of discharge permits into the ESU;

    6. Application of pesticides affecting water quality or riparian
areas supporting coho salmon in the ESU;

    7. Introduction of non-native species likely to prey on coho salmon
within the ESU or displace them from their habitat.

    Other activities not identified here will be reviewed on a case-by-
case basis to determine if violation of section 9 of the ESA may be
likely to result from such activities. Questions regarding whether
specific activities may constitute a violation of the section 9 take
prohibition, and general inquiries regarding prohibitions and permits,
should be directed to NMFS (see ADDRESSES). We do not consider these
lists to be exhaustive and we provide them as general information to
the public.

Peer Review

    In December 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued
a Final Information Quality Bulletin for peer review establishing
minimum peer review standards, a transparent process for public
disclosure of peer review planning, and opportunities for public
participation. The OMB Bulletin, implemented under the Information
Quality Act, is intended to enhance the quality and credibility of the
Federal Government's scientific information and applies to influential
or highly influential scientific information disseminated on or after
June 16, 2005. To satisfy our requirements under the OMB Bulletin, we
obtained independent peer review of the scientific information compiled
in the BRT report (Spence et al., 2011) that supports the proposed
range extension and the continued listing of the CCC coho salmon ESU as
an endangered species. The peer reviewers provided only limited, minor
comments which were addressed in the final BRT report.

    A joint NMFS/U.S. Fish and Wildlife policy (59 FR 34270; July 1,
1994) requires us to solicit independent expert review from at least
three qualified specialists on proposed listing determinations such as
this range extension. Accordingly, we solicited reviews from three
scientific peer reviewers having expertise with coho salmon in
California and received comments from all three reviewers. We carefully
reviewed the peer review comments and have addressed them as
appropriate in this final rule (see summary of peer review comments
above).

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the ESA as: ``(i) The
specific areas within the geographic area occupied by the species, at
the time it is listed in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of
this Act, on which are found those physical and biological features (I)
essential to the conservation of the species and (II) which may require
special management considerations or protection; and (ii) specific
areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time
it is listed in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of this
Act, upon a determination by the Secretary that such areas are
essential for the conservation of the species'' (16 U.S.C. 1532(5)(A)).
Conservation means the use of all methods and procedures needed to
bring the species to the point at which listing under the ESA is no
longer necessary. Section 4(b)(2) requires that designation of critical
habitat be based on the best scientific data available, after taking
into consideration the economic, national security, and other relevant
impacts of specifying any particular area as critical habitat.

    Once critical habitat is designated, section 7 of the ESA requires
Federal agencies to ensure that they do not fund, authorize, or carry
out any actions that are likely to destroy or adversely modify that
habitat. This requirement is in addition to the section 7 requirement
that Federal agencies ensure that their actions do not jeopardize the
continued existence of the listed species.

    Section 4(a)(3)(A) of the ESA requires that, to the maximum extent
prudent and determinable, NMFS designate critical habitat concurrently
with a determination that a species is endangered or threatened.
Critical habitat for the CCC coho salmon ESU was designated on May 5,
1999 (64 FR 24049) and presently includes all river reaches accessible
to coho salmon in rivers between Punta Gorda and the San Lorenzo River.
Within these streams, critical habitat includes all waterways,
substrate and adjacent riparian habitat below longstanding, natural
impassable barriers and some specific dams. Critical habitat is not presently
being proposed for designation in Soquel and Aptos creek watersheds.
Prior to making any determination regarding the designation of critical
habitat in these watersheds, we will complete an analysis to determine
if habitat in Soquel and Aptos creeks should be designated and whether
any modification of the existing critical habitat designation is
warranted. Following completion of this analysis, NMFS may initiate
rulemaking to designate critical habitat in these watersheds. Any such
proposed rule will provide an opportunity for public comments and a
public hearing, if requested.

2. Revise the entry for ``Central California Coast coho,'' in Sec. 
224.101(a) to read as follows:


Sec.  224.101  Enumeration of endangered marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Species \1\                                              Citation(s) for    Citations(s) for
---------------------------------------------------      Where listed            listing        critical habitat
          Common name             Scientific name                             determinations      Designations
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
Central California Coast coho..  Oncorhynchus       U.S.A., CA, including   [INSERT FR         64 FR 24049; May
                                  kitsutch.          all naturally           CITATION & April   5, 1999.
                                                     spawning populations    2, 2012.
                                                     of coho salmon from
                                                     Punta Gorda in
                                                     northern California
                                                     south to and
                                                     including Aptos Creek
                                                     in central
                                                     California, as well
                                                     as populations in
                                                     tributaries to San
                                                     Francisco Bay,
                                                     excluding the
                                                     Sacramento-San
                                                     Joaquin River system,
                                                     as well as three
                                                     artificial
                                                     propagation programs:
                                                     the Don Clausen Fish
                                                     Hatchery Captive
                                                     Broodstock Program,
                                                     Scott Creek/King
                                                     Fisher Flats
                                                     Conservation Program,
                                                     and the Scott Creek
                                                     Captive Broodstock
                                                     Program.
 

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