Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for Franklin's Bumble Bee

CourtFish And Wildlife Service
Citation86 FR 47221
Record Number2021-17832
Publication Date24 Aug 2021
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 161 (Tuesday, August 24, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 161 (Tuesday, August 24, 2021)]
                [Rules and Regulations]
                [Pages 47221-47238]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-17832]
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                DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
                Fish and Wildlife Service
                50 CFR Part 17
                [Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2018-0044; FF09E21000 FXES11110900000 212]
                RIN 1018-BD25
                Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species
                Status for Franklin's Bumble Bee
                AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
                ACTION: Final rule.
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                SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are listing
                the Franklin's bumble bee (Bombus franklini), an invertebrate species
                from Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine Counties in Oregon, and Siskiyou
                and Trinity Counties in California, as an endangered species under the
                Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This rule adds this
                species to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and
                applies the protections of the Act to this species. We are not
                designating critical habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee because we
                determined that such a designation would not be beneficial to the
                species.
                DATES: This rule is effective September 23, 2021.
                ADDRESSES: This final rule and supporting documents are available on
                the internet at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-
                2018-0044, or at https://ecos.fws.gov.
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Henson, Field Supervisor, U.S.
                Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE
                98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266; telephone 503-231-6179.
                Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call
                the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
                Executive Summary
                 Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, if we determine that
                a species may be an endangered or threatened species throughout all or
                a significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish
                a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our
                proposal within 1 year. To the maximum extent prudent and determinable,
                we must designate critical habitat for any species that we determine to
                be an endangered or threatened species under the Act. Listing a species
                as an endangered or threatened species and designation of critical
                habitat can only be completed by issuing a rule.
                 What this document does. This rule lists Franklin's bumble bee
                (Bombus franklini) as an endangered species under the Act. We are not
                designating critical habitat because we determined that a designation
                is not prudent for this species.
                 The basis for our action. Under the Act, we may determine that a
                species is an endangered or threatened species because of any of five
                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. We have determined that Franklin's bumble bee
                meets the definition of an endangered species and therefore warrants
                protection under the Act. The threats to the species of pathogens,
                pesticides, and small population size are ongoing and rangewide; they
                are likely to continue to act individually and in combination to
                decrease the viability of the Franklin's bumble bee. The risk of
                extinction is high, the suspected threats to the species persist, and
                the number of remaining Franklin's bumble bees is presumably very
                small, as the species has not been observed since 2006. Existing
                regulatory mechanisms or conservation measures in place do not
                appreciably reduce or ameliorate the existing threats to the
                [[Page 47222]]
                species, as evidenced by the species' acute and rangewide decline.
                Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial
                information, we are listing the Franklin's bumble bee as endangered in
                accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.
                 Section 4(a)(3) of the Act requires the Secretary of the Interior
                (Secretary) to designate critical habitat concurrent with listing to
                the maximum extent prudent and determinable. Section 3(5)(A) of the Act
                defines critical habitat as (i) the specific areas within the
                geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed, on
                which are found those physical or biological features (I) essential to
                the conservation of the species and (II) which may require special
                management considerations or protections; and (ii) specific areas
                outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is
                listed, upon a determination by the Secretary that such areas are
                essential for the conservation of the species. Section 4(b)(2) of the
                Act states that the Secretary must make the designation on the basis of
                the best scientific data available and after taking into consideration
                the economic impact, the impact on national security, and any other
                relevant impacts of specifying any particular area as critical habitat.
                Because the present or threatened destruction, modification, or
                curtailment of habitat is not a threat to the Franklin's bumble bee
                (disease and other manmade factors are likely the primary threat to the
                species within its habitat), in accordance with 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1), we
                determine that designating critical habitat is not prudent for
                Franklin's bumble bee.
                 Peer review and public comment. We sought the expert opinions of 10
                appropriate and independent specialists regarding the species status
                assessment report. We received responses from 5 specialists, which
                informed our determination. We also considered all 53 comments and
                information received from the public during the comment period.
                Previous Federal Actions
                 Please refer to the proposed rule (84 FR 40006) for Franklin's
                bumble bee published on August 13, 2019, for a detailed description of
                previous Federal actions concerning this species.
                 On August 27, 2019, the Service published a final rule (84 FR
                45020) revising the regulations at 50 CFR part 424 for listing species
                and designating critical habitat. However, the revisions apply only to
                relevant rulemakings for which the proposed rule is published after
                September 26, 2019, the effective date of the final rule. Thus, the
                prior version of the regulations at 50 CFR part 424 continues to apply
                to any rulemakings for which a proposed rule was published before
                September 26, 2019, including this final rule for Franklin's bumble
                bee.
                Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule
                 We considered all comments and information we received during the
                comment period for the proposed rule to list the Franklin's bumble bee
                (84 FR 40006; August 13, 2019). Based on these comments and additional
                internal review, we made the following changes from the proposed rule
                in this final rule:
                 Added to this rule and the SSA report additional climate
                change information and analysis, as well as discussion on the likely
                effects of other potential threats in the future;
                 Updated this rule and the SSA report with information from
                the 2019 survey season;
                 Corrected a mathematical error in our presentation of
                neonicotinoid pesticide applications in the historical range of the
                species in this rule and in the SSA report;
                 Added information from the SSA report to this rule
                regarding nectaring behavior, as well as the commercialization of
                bumble bees for pollination;
                 Updated information in this rule on pesticide regulation
                on National Wildlife Refuge System lands;
                 Added further detail in the rule on Tribal notifications;
                 Added several citations and clarifications to the rule to
                further support content; and
                 Made minor editorial changes to the rule to improve
                readability.
                 We carefully considered the additional information we received
                during the comment period, and while much of this information was
                helpful, it did not result in any further changes from our proposal to
                this final rule to list Franklin's bumble bee as endangered, nor did it
                result in a change to our determination that designation of critical
                habitat is not prudent at this time.
                Supporting Documents
                 A species status assessment (SSA) team prepared an SSA report for
                Franklin's bumble bee. The SSA team was composed of Service biologists,
                in consultation with other species experts. The SSA report represents a
                compilation of the best scientific and commercial data available
                concerning the status of the species, including the impacts of past,
                present, and future factors (both negative and beneficial) affecting
                the species.
                 In accordance with our joint policy on peer review published in the
                Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we sought the expert
                opinions of 10 appropriate and independent specialists regarding the
                scientific basis for this proposed rule, detailed in the Franklin's
                Bumble Bee Species Status Assessment report (SSA report) (Service
                2018a, entire). We received five reviews. The purpose of peer review is
                to ensure that our listing and critical habitat determinations are
                based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. The peer
                reviewers have expertise in Franklin's bumble bee or Bombus biology and
                habitat, and their comments helped inform our determinations. We also
                invited comment on the SSA report from our partner agencies; the U.S.
                Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Oregon
                Department of Agriculture provided us with comments. The comments from
                peer and partner reviews were carefully considered in the process of
                finalizing the SSA report that provided the scientific basis for both
                the proposed rule and this final rule. These comments, along with other
                public comments on our proposed rule, are available in the docket for
                this final rule (http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-
                2018-0044).
                I. Final Listing Determination
                Background
                 A thorough review of the taxonomy, life history, and ecology of
                Franklin's bumble bee is presented in the SSA report (Service 2018a,
                entire) on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2018-
                0044. Franklin's bumble bee is thought to have the most limited
                distribution of all known North American bumble bee species (Plowright
                and Stephen 1980, p. 479; Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, p. 6), and one
                of the most limited geographic distributions of any bumble bee in the
                world (Frison 1922, p. 315; Williams 1998, p. 129). The species has
                been recorded from the Umpqua and Rogue River Valleys in Oregon
                (Stephen 1957, p. 81) and from northern California, suggesting its
                restriction to the Klamath Mountain region of southern Oregon and
                northern California (Thorp et al. 1983, p. 8). Elevations where it has
                been observed range from 162 meters (m) (540 feet (ft)) in the northern
                part of its range, to over 2,340 m (7,800 ft) in the southern part of
                its range. All confirmed specimens have been found in an area about 306
                kilometers (km) (190 miles
                [[Page 47223]]
                (mi)) to the north and south, and 113 km (70 mi) east to west, between
                122[deg] to 124[deg] west longitude and 40[deg] 58' to 43[deg] 30'
                north latitude in Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine Counties in southern
                Oregon, and Siskiyou and Trinity Counties in northern California (Thorp
                1999, p. 3; Thorp 2005, p. 1; International Union for Conservation of
                Nature 2009, p. 1).
                 Franklin's bumble bee was first observed in 1917, and first
                described in 1921, and limited occurrence and observation data exist
                for Franklin's bumble bee prior to 1998. The species has been found on
                many privately owned sites as well as municipal, State, and Federal
                land. Historical observations and occurrence data for Franklin's bumble
                bee prior to 1998 include opportunistic observations, student
                collections, and museum specimens, as well as the collections and notes
                of interested parties, natural resource managers, and university staff
                (Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, pp. 34-40). A more intensive and
                targeted search effort for the species began in 1998, in areas thought
                to have the highest likelihood of Franklin's bumble bee presence. There
                was initial success at finding a higher abundance of the species than
                ever previously reported; in one year (1998), 98 Franklin's bumble bees
                were observed (mostly from two sites). However, in subsequent years,
                searchers found fewer and fewer Franklin's bumble bees, and none have
                been found since the last sighting of a single individual in Oregon in
                2006. The variations in timing, scope, intensity, and methodology of
                search efforts (including those since 1998) and the lack of
                observations since 2006 prevent the identification of any population
                trends. Many of the occurrence records provide only point data for an
                occurrence, with no details on the size of the area searched or whether
                or not the record reflected a comprehensive search of an area. Many
                records also lack details on the level of survey effort per location
                (number of searchers, hours of search effort per day, number of days
                per search effort).
                 The lack of systematic surveys across the historical range of the
                species over time prevents us from using occurrence records to
                extrapolate reasonable estimates of species abundance or distribution
                or from concluding that the species is extinct. Even though none have
                been seen since 2006, Franklin's bumble bee populations could
                potentially persist undetected. The areas chosen for survey were
                selected due to a combination of abundance of floral resources
                throughout the colony cycle, relatively recent historical occurrence of
                the species, and accessibility to surveyors. However, the surveyed area
                represents a relatively small percentage of the historical range of the
                Franklin's bumble bee; therefore, it is possible the species may
                persist in other areas of the range. There are numerous instances of
                species rediscovered after many years, even decades, of having been
                believed extinct (e.g., Scheffers et al. 2011, entire). As one example
                of such a case, the Fender's blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides
                fenderi) of Oregon was believed extinct after the last recorded
                observation in 1937, until it was rediscovered in 1989, 52 years later
                (Hammond and Wilson 1992, p. 175; Hammond and Wilson 1993, p. 2).
                Recent approaches to evaluating extinction likelihood place increased
                emphasis on the extensiveness and adequacy of survey effort (Keith et
                al. 2017, p. 321; Thompson et al. 2017, p. 328), and caution against
                declaring a species as extinct in the face of uncertainty
                (Ak[ccedil]akaya et al. 2017, p. 340).
                 The specific life-history characteristics and behavior of this rare
                species have not been studied; much of the information presented in the
                SSA report (Service 2018a, entire) is inferred from information on
                Bombus in general and some closely related species (western bumble bee
                (B. occidentalis), rusty patched bumble bee (B. affinis), and yellow-
                faced bumble bee (B. vosnesenskii), among others). The report also
                relied heavily on information from species experts (Service 2018a,
                entire).
                 Franklin's bumble bee is a primitively eusocial bumble bee, meaning
                they are highly social and adults have flexible roles in their social
                order. They live in colonies made up of a queen and her male and worker
                offspring, and adult females can switch from worker to queen roles.
                Like other eusocial Bombus species, Franklin's bumble bee typically
                nests underground in abandoned rodent burrows or other cavities that
                offer resting and sheltering places, food storage, nesting, and room
                for the colony to grow (Plath 1927, pp. 122-128; Hobbs 1968, p. 157;
                Thorp et al. 1983, p. 1; Thorp 1999, p. 5). The species may also
                occasionally nest on the ground (Thorp et al. 1983, p. 1) or in rock
                piles (Plowright and Stephen 1980, p. 475). It has even been found
                nesting in a residential garage in the city limits of Medford, Oregon
                (Thorp 2017, pers. comm.).
                 Colonies of Franklin's bumble bee have an annual cycle, initiated
                each spring when solitary queens emerge from hibernation and seek
                suitable nest sites (Thorp 2017, pers. comm.). Colonies may contain
                from 50 to 400 workers along with the founding queen (Plath 1927, pp.
                123-124; Thorp et al. 1983, p. 2; Macfarlane et al. 1994, p. 7). Two
                colonies of Franklin's bumble bee that were initiated in the laboratory
                and set out to complete development in the field contained over 60
                workers by early September, and likely produced over 100 workers by the
                end of the season (Plowright and Stephen 1980, p. 477). The flight
                season of Franklin's bumble bee is from mid-May to the end of September
                (Thorp et al. 1983, p. 30); a few individuals have been encountered in
                October (Southern Oregon University Bee Collection records, in Xerces
                Society and Thorp 2010, Appendix 1, p. 39). At the end of the colony
                cycle, all the workers and the males die along with the founding queen;
                only the inseminated hibernating females (gynes) are left to carry on
                the genetic lineage into the following year (Duchateau and Velthius
                1988).
                 As with all Bombus species, Franklin's bumble bee has a unique
                genetic system called the haplodiploid sex determination system. In
                this system, unfertilized (haploid) eggs become males that carry a
                single set of chromosomes, and fertilized (diploid) eggs become females
                that carry two sets of chromosomes. This system may result in lower
                levels of genetic diversity than the more common diploid-diploid sex
                determination system, in which both males and females carry two sets of
                chromosomes. Haplodiploid organisms may be more prone to population
                extinction than diploid-diploid organisms, due to their susceptibility
                to low population levels and loss of genetic diversity (Service 2018a,
                p. 37). Inbreeding depression in bumble bees can lead to the production
                of sterile diploid males (Goulson et al. 2008, p. 11.7) and negatively
                affects bumble bee colony size (Herrman et al. 2007, p. 1167), which
                are key factors in a colony's reproductive success.
                 As one of the rarest Bombus species, Franklin's bumble bees are
                somewhat enigmatic, and a specific habitat study for the species has
                not been completed. Such a study was initiated in 2006, when the
                Franklin's bumble bee was last seen, but could not continue due to the
                subsequent absence of the species (Thorp 2017, pers. comm.). However,
                some general habitat associations of Bombus are known. Like all bumble
                bees, the Franklin's bumble bee requires a constant and diverse supply
                of flowers that bloom throughout the colony's life cycle, from spring
                to autumn (Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, p. 11); these resources would
                typically be found in open (non-forested) meadows in proximity to seeps
                and other wet
                [[Page 47224]]
                meadow environments. The nectar from flowers provides carbohydrates,
                and the pollen provides protein. Franklin's bumble bee may have a
                foraging distance of up to 10 km (6.2 mi) (Thorp 2017, pers. comm.),
                but the species' typical dispersal distance is most likely 3 km (1.86
                mi) or less (Hatfield 2017, pers. comm.; Goulson 2010, p. 96).
                Franklin's bumble bee have been observed collecting pollen from lupine
                (Lupinus spp.) and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), and
                collecting nectar from horsemint or nettle-leaf giant hyssop (Agastache
                urticifolia) and mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima) (Xerces
                Society and Thorp 2010, p. 11). Franklin's bumble bee may also collect
                both pollen and nectar from vetch (Vicia spp.), as well as rob nectar
                from it (Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, p. 11). Short-tongued species,
                including Franklin's bumble bee, sometimes visit flowers that are quite
                elongated and have difficulty reaching nectar deep in the flower. These
                bees can `rob nectar' by chewing a hole on the outside of the flower at
                the base, through which they can easily reach the nectar with their
                tongues.
                 In summary, Franklin's bumble bee has been found in a wide array of
                sheltered and exposed habitat types at a broad elevational range, and
                the species appears to be a generalist forager. Despite uncertainties
                regarding the species' habitat needs, we know they need (1) floral
                resources for nectaring throughout the colony cycle, and (2) relatively
                protected areas for breeding and shelter. The habitat elements that
                Franklin's bumble bee appears to prefer to fulfill those needs
                mentioned above are relatively plentiful and widely distributed.
                Regulatory and Analytical Framework
                Regulatory Framework
                 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 is an ``endangered species'' or a ``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 any species is an ``endangered species'' or a
                ``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.
                 These factors represent broad categories of natural or human-caused
                actions or conditions that could have an effect on a species' continued
                existence. In evaluating these actions and conditions, we look for
                those that may have a negative effect on individuals of the species, as
                well as other actions or conditions that may ameliorate any negative
                effects or may have positive effects.
                 We use the term ``threat'' to refer in general to actions or
                conditions that are known to or are reasonably likely to negatively
                affect individuals of a species. The term ``threat'' includes actions
                or conditions that have a direct impact on individuals (direct
                impacts), as well as those that affect individuals through alteration
                of their habitat or required resources (stressors). The term ``threat''
                may encompass--either together or separately--the source of the action
                or condition or the action or condition itself.
                 However, the mere identification of any threat(s) does not
                necessarily mean that the species meets the statutory definition of an
                ``endangered species'' or a ``threatened species.'' In determining
                whether a species meets either definition, we must evaluate all
                identified threats by considering the expected response by the species,
                and the effects of the threats--in light of those actions and
                conditions that will ameliorate the threats--on an individual,
                population, and species level. We evaluate each threat and its expected
                effects on the species, then analyze the cumulative effect of all of
                the threats on the species as a whole. We also consider the cumulative
                effect of the threats in light of those actions and conditions that
                will have positive effects on the species, such as any existing
                regulatory mechanisms or conservation efforts. The Secretary determines
                whether the species meets the definition of an ``endangered species''
                or a ``threatened species'' only after conducting this cumulative
                analysis and describing the expected effect on the species now and in
                the foreseeable future.
                Analytical Framework
                 The SSA report documents the results of our comprehensive
                biological review of the best available scientific and commercial data
                regarding the status of the species, including an assessment of the
                potential threats to the species. The SSA report does not represent a
                decision by the Service on whether the species should be listed as an
                endangered or threatened species under the Act. It does, however,
                provide the scientific basis that informs our regulatory decisions,
                which involve the further application of standards within the Act and
                its implementing regulations and policies. The following is a summary
                of the key results and conclusions from the SSA report; the full SSA
                report can be found at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2018-0044 on http://www.regulations.gov.
                 To assess the viability of Franklin's bumble bee, we used the three
                conservation biology principles of resiliency, redundancy, and
                representation (Shaffer and Stein 2000, pp. 306-310). Briefly,
                resiliency supports the ability of the species to withstand
                environmental and demographic stochasticity (for example, wet or dry,
                warm or cold years), redundancy supports the ability of the species to
                withstand catastrophic events (for example, droughts, large pollution
                events), and representation supports the ability of the species to
                adapt over time to long-term changes in the environment (for example,
                climate changes). In general, the more resilient and redundant a
                species is and the more representation it has, the more likely it is to
                sustain populations over time, even under changing environmental
                conditions. Using these principles, we identified the species'
                ecological requirements for survival and reproduction at the
                individual, population, and species levels, and described the
                beneficial and risk factors influencing the species' viability.
                 The SSA process can be categorized into three sequential stages.
                During the first stage, we evaluated the individual species' life-
                history needs. The next stage involved an assessment of the historical
                and current condition of the species' demographics and habitat
                characteristics, including an explanation of how the species arrived at
                its current condition. The final stage of the SSA involved making
                predictions about the species' responses to positive and negative
                environmental and anthropogenic influences. Throughout all of these
                stages, we used the best available information to characterize
                viability as the ability of a species to
                [[Page 47225]]
                sustain populations in the wild over time. We use this information to
                inform our regulatory decision.
                Summary of Biological Status and Threats
                 In this discussion, we review the biological condition of the
                species and its resources, and the threats that influence the species'
                current and future condition, in order to assess the species' overall
                viability and the risks to that viability.
                 To assess resiliency and redundancy, we evaluated the change in
                Franklin's bumble bee occurrences (populations) over time. To assess
                representation (as an indicator of adaptive capacity) of the Franklin's
                bumble bee, we evaluated the spatial extent of occurrences over time.
                We evaluated the change in resiliency, representation, and redundancy
                from the past until the present; however, due to the lack of
                observations of the species since 2006, we did not project anticipated
                future states of these conditions.
                 Our analyses indicate that the resiliency, redundancy, and
                representation of the Franklin's bumble bee have all declined since the
                late 1990s. Historically, the species has always been rare and has one
                of the narrowest distributions of any Bombus species in the world. Even
                so, the abundance and distribution of Franklin's bumble bee has
                declined significantly (Service 2018a, pp. 10-14); the species has not
                been observed since 2006, despite intensive survey efforts in select
                portions of its historical range. Search efforts for the species have
                been varied in timing, scope, intensity, and methodology. During the
                more intensive surveys from 1998 until the last observation in 2006,
                the Franklin's bumble bee was observed at 14 locations, including 8
                locations where it had not been previously documented. In 1998, 98 bees
                were found among 11 locations. Searchers found fewer and fewer bees
                after that year even though they continued extensive searches in
                multiple locations with the highest likelihood of finding the species.
                Twenty bees were located in 1999, nine individuals were observed in
                2000, and one individual was observed in 2001. Although 20 Franklin's
                bumble bees were observed in 2002, only 3 were observed in 2003 (all at
                a single locality), and a single worker bee was observed in 2006.
                Despite continued intensive search efforts in these areas through 2019,
                there have been no confirmed observations of the Franklin's bumble bee
                since 2006. Data allow us to estimate 43 potential populations of the
                species since 1921, when the first description of the species was
                published (Service 2018a, pp. 11). From 1998 to 2006, we identified 14
                potential populations. Since 2006, no populations have been located.
                 The vulnerability resulting from the Franklin's bumble bee's
                haplodiploid genetic system, as well as the loss in the abundance and
                spatial extent of its populations, suggest the resiliency,
                representation, and redundancy of the Franklin's bumble bee have all
                declined significantly since the late 1990s. The losses in both the
                number of populations and their spatial extent render the Franklin's
                bumble bee vulnerable to extinction even without further external
                stressors (e.g., pathogens and insecticide exposure) acting upon the
                species.
                 As part of our status assessment of the Franklin's bumble bee, we
                looked at potential stressors affecting the species' viability (Service
                2018a, pp. 23-40). Potential stressors that we analyzed for the
                Franklin's bumble bee generally fit into three groups that correspond
                with Factors A (habitat loss and fragmentation), C (pathogens), or E
                (pesticide use, competition with nonnative bees, and effects of small
                population size). No potential stressors of the Franklin's bumble bee
                correspond with Factor B. There has never been any indication that the
                Franklin's bumble bee was at risk of overutilization for commercial,
                recreational, scientific, or educational purposes, and we did not find
                any new information to suggest this has changed. Existing regulatory
                mechanisms (Factor D) are discussed below in the context of how they
                help to reduce or ameliorate stressors to the Franklin's bumble bee.
                 The 2010 petition identified destruction, degradation, and
                conversion of habitat as a threat to the Franklin's bumble bee. In our
                90-day finding on the 2010 petition (76 FR 56381; September 13, 2011),
                we noted that the petitioners provided substantial information on
                threats to the Franklin's bumble bee from the destruction,
                modification, or curtailment of habitat, primarily due to the potential
                impacts of natural or prescribed fire. Because the loss and degradation
                of habitat has been shown to reduce both diversity and abundance in
                other Bombus species (Potts et al. 2010, pp. 348-349), we looked at the
                potential stressors of natural or prescribed fire, agricultural
                intensification, urban development, livestock grazing, and the effects
                of climate change (Service 2018a, pp. 23-40).
                 Although conversion of natural habitat appears to be the primary
                cause of bumble bee habitat loss throughout the world (Goulson et al.
                2015, p. 2; Kosior et al. 2010, p. 81), many researchers believe it is
                unlikely to be a main driver of the recent, widespread North American
                bee declines (Szabo et al. 2012, p. 236; Colla and Packer 2008, p.
                1388; Cameron et al. 2011, p. 665). Despite uncertainties regarding the
                Franklin's bumble bee's habitat needs, we know they need (1) floral
                resources for nectaring throughout the colony cycle, and (2) relatively
                protected areas for breeding and shelter. Furthermore, the available
                information regarding locations where the species has been found
                indicates that the Franklin's bumble bee is a generalist forager and
                that the species' specific needs and preferences for these habitat
                elements are relatively flexible, plentiful, and widely distributed.
                While we can say that Bombus species in general might prefer protected
                meadows with an abundance of wildflowers, the Franklin's bumble bee has
                been found in a wide array of sheltered and exposed habitat types at
                elevations ranging from 540 ft (162 m) to 7,800 ft (2,340 m) (Thorp
                2017, pers. comm.).
                Natural or Prescribed Fire
                 Fire caused by both natural and human-caused factors has been an
                important change on the landscape in the range of the Franklin's bumble
                bee. Because fire reduces natural succession of forests through the
                burning of encroaching woody plants, fire is a primary factor in the
                maintenance of grassland and meadow habitat that can support Bombus
                species (Shultz and Crone 1998, p. 244; Huntzinger 2003, p. 2). With
                the increase in human development came fire suppression to limit damage
                to manmade structures. Fire suppression allows woody encroachment to
                occur, and the diverse landscape created by fire (open areas mixed
                within forested areas) is slowly being replaced by increasing areas of
                denser forested habitat; the open areas that facilitated the growth of
                diverse understory plant communities are being reduced from their
                historical condition (Ruchty 2011, p. 26). Conifer species now cover
                some of the area that was previously open meadow habitat in the range
                of the Franklin's bumble bee (Panzer 2002, p. 1297; Shultz and Crone
                1998, p. 244). Although this loss of habitat by fire suppression may
                have limited the availability and diversity of floral resources, as
                well as nest and overwintering habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee,
                healthy meadow habitat remains in areas where the Franklin's bumble bee
                was previously found (Godwin 2017, pers comm.; Colyer 2017, pers.
                comm.), and it is unlikely
                [[Page 47226]]
                that loss of habitat from fire suppression was a factor in the decline
                of the species.
                 Increased fuel loads from fire suppression heighten the potential
                for catastrophic, large-scale, and high temperature wildfires. Any
                Bombus colonies in the path of this type of fire would be at risk of
                extirpation. Wildfire may have extirpated some historical populations
                of the Franklin's bumble bee, but we have no information suggesting
                that any known Franklin's bumble bee occurrence sites were in the path
                of catastrophic wildfires at the time the sites were occupied.
                Controlled burning became a management tool for reducing potential fuel
                loads for wildfire; controlled burning is carried out by Federal land
                management agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of
                Land Management in the range of the Franklin's bumble bee. The effects
                of fire on invertebrates depends greatly on the biology of the specific
                taxa (Gibson et al. 1992, p. 166), and in the case of the Franklin's
                bumble bee, controlled burns could certainly cause death of individual
                bees and negative effects to a colony. Prescribed fire is likely to
                continue to be used as a management tool on some Federal land; however,
                the practice is overall small in scale, opportunistic (depending on
                weather, funding, and a host of other factors), used to prevent
                catastrophic fire, and often a net benefit to pollinators as it opens
                habitat by decreasing canopy cover (U.S. Forest Service 1989, IV 87 to
                IV 90, IV-113 to IV-119; U.S. Forest Service 1990, pp 4-149 to 4-179).
                In summary, we have no information to indicate that controlled burns
                were a factor in the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee or will
                increase in the future to a degree that may affect the viability of the
                species.
                Agricultural Intensification
                 Agricultural intensification can result in habitat loss for bumble
                bees, as these practices often result in the planting of monocultures
                that tend to provide floral resources for a limited period of time,
                rather than throughout the colony's life cycle. Agricultural
                intensification can negatively impact wild bees by reducing floral
                resource diversity and abundance (Service 2018a, p. 32). Agricultural
                intensification was determined to be a primary factor leading to the
                local extirpation and decline of bumble bees in Illinois (Grixti et al.
                2009, p. 75). An increased use of herbicides often accompanies
                development and agricultural intensification, and the widespread use of
                herbicides in agricultural, urban, and even natural landscapes has led
                to decreases in flowering plants (Potts et al. 2010, p. 350).
                 Within the historical range of the Franklin's bumble bee, total
                acres in agricultural cropland decreased in all three counties in
                Oregon (Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine) by greater than 50 percent
                from 1997 to 2012 (U.S. Department of Agriculture--National Agriculture
                Statistics Service 2017, pers. comm.; Service 2018a, p. 33). While the
                total number of acres of agricultural cropland is not synonymous with
                agricultural intensification (specifically, the expansion of
                monocultures), a decrease in total acres of agriculture leads us to
                conclude that agricultural intensification was not likely a factor in
                the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee. We have no documentation in
                our files or any direct evidence that agricultural intensification has
                contributed to the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee or will
                increase in the future to a degree that may affect the viability of the
                species. Approximately 42 percent of sites where Franklin's bumble bees
                have ever been reported (18 of 43) occur on federally owned land,
                primarily U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land; very
                little habitat on these lands has been permanently altered or lost
                through agricultural intensification (Service 2018a, p. 32).
                Urban Development
                 Ongoing urbanization contributes to the loss and fragmentation of
                natural habitats. Urban gardens and parks provide habitat for some
                pollinators, including bumble bees (Frankie et al. 2005, p. 235;
                McFrederick and LeBuhn 2006, p. 372), but they tend not to support the
                species richness of bumble bees that can be found in nearby undeveloped
                landscapes (Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, p. 13) or that which was
                present historically (McFrederick and LeBuhn 2006). However, Franklin's
                bumble bee and western bumble bee have both been observed in urban
                areas of Ashland, Oregon, and in residential areas of Medford, Oregon.
                Furthermore, approximately 42 percent of the sites where Franklin's
                bumble bee have ever been reported (18 of 43) occur on federally owned
                land, primarily U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land,
                and very little habitat on these lands has been permanently altered or
                lost through development.
                 Generally good habitat conditions currently exist throughout the
                known historical Franklin's bumble bee locations and all of the recent
                focused survey areas. Two notable events occurred in areas with
                previous observations of Franklin's bumble bee: The creation of Lake
                Applegate upon the completion of Applegate Dam in the fall of 1980, and
                a report of soil modification on a portion of the Gold Hill site in
                2004; however, we have no information to indicate that Franklin's
                bumble bees were still in the vicinity or had any colonies in the area
                when these events occurred. The Applegate Dam project inundated two
                sites with historical observations of Franklin's bumble bee (from the
                1960s), but no subsequent search efforts or observations (Xerces
                Society and Thorp 2010, p. 13; Thorp, pers. comm. 2017). The June 23,
                2010, petition noted that in 2004, soil had been excavated and
                deposited in a portion of the Gold Hill area (Xerces Society and Thorp
                2010, p. 13). The last observation of Franklin's bumble bee at Gold
                Hill was in the year 2000, and the site was revisited 14 times over the
                next 3 years with no observations of Franklin's bumble bee. In both of
                these cases, we have no information to suggest the species was still
                using the habitat in the area by the time the activities took place,
                and therefore no information to suggest that either of these events
                affected the resiliency of any population of Franklin's bumble bee. We
                have no documentation in our files or any direct evidence that
                urbanization or development in the range of Franklin's bumble bee, or
                the incidents described above, contributed to the decline of the
                species or will increase in the future to a degree that may affect the
                viability of the species (Portland State University 2015, p. 7).
                Livestock Grazing
                 Livestock grazing occurs on public land in much of the historical
                range of the Franklin's bumble bee. Overgrazing by sheep between 1890
                and 1920 resulted in trampling vegetation and denuding soils, and
                grazing is currently evident today in the continuing erosion of the
                granitic soils of the McDonald Basin, Siskiyou Gap, Mt. Ashland, and
                the Siskiyou Crest (LaLande 1995, p. 31; T. Atzet 2017, pers. comm.).
                Several studies on the impacts of livestock grazing on bees suggest
                that an increase in the intensity of livestock grazing affects the
                species richness of bees (Service 2018a, p. 35). In contrast, grazing,
                especially by cattle, can play a key positive role in maintaining the
                abundance and species richness of preferred bumble bee forage (Carvell
                2002, p. 44). Evidence of livestock grazing was observed interspersed
                within abundant floral resources in Franklin's bumble bee habitat
                during several recent targeted survey efforts
                [[Page 47227]]
                (Brooks 1997, pers. comm.; Service 2016, entire; Service 2017, entire;
                Trail 2017, pers. comm.). We have no new information that the timing,
                location, intensity, or duration of grazing has changed, with the
                exception of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, where most grazing
                has been retired (Colyer 2018, pers. comm.). The lack of specific
                information on the impacts of livestock grazing on the Franklin's
                bumble bee limits our ability to connect the activity to any specific
                species' response, and we do not anticipate grazing will increase in
                the future to a degree that may affect the viability of the species
                (Bureau of Land Management 2016, pp. 96-103).
                Effects of Climate Change
                 Specific impacts of climate change on pollinators are not well
                understood; most of the existing information on climate change impacts
                to pollinators comes from studies on butterflies. Studies specifically
                relating to bumble bees are scant, and we found no climate change
                information specific to the Franklin's bumble bee. Changes in
                temperature and precipitation, and the increased frequency of storm
                events, can affect pollinator population sizes directly, by affecting
                survival and reproduction (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
                2013, entire; Bale et al. 2002, p. 11; Roland and Matter 2016, p. 22).
                These climatic changes can also affect populations indirectly, by
                altering resource availability and species interactions (Service 2018a,
                p. 36).
                 Bumble bee abundance for three species of Bombus in the Rocky
                Mountains increased when floral resources were available for more days,
                and the number of days when floral resources were available increased
                with greater summer precipitation and later snowmelt dates (Ogilvie et
                al. 2017, p. 4). Several of the targeted Franklin's bumble bee and
                western bumble bee survey reports between 2015 and 2017 include mention
                of widespread hot, dry climate affecting timing and abundance of floral
                resources during the surveys (Bureau of Land Management 2015, p. 2;
                Trail 2017, pers. comm.). Although the Olgilvie et al. study and the
                survey reports suggest potential indirect effects of climate change on
                Bombus, we have no information to indicate that the effects of climate
                change were connected to the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee;
                numerous Bombus species persist in areas that are considered good
                quality habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee (Pool 2014, entire;
                Colyer 2016, entire). As a habitat generalist, Franklin's bumble bee
                appears to forage on a variety of floral resources, and we have no
                information to suggest that they would not forage off of whatever
                floral resource was in bloom at the time they emerge from their nests.
                We have no information to suggest that any changes in the vegetation
                community to date led to the decline of the species.
                 In order to understand the potential future impact of climate
                change on Franklin's bumble bee, we looked at climate change projection
                models. Global climate projections are informative and, in some cases,
                the only or the best scientific information available for us to use.
                However, projected changes in climate and related impacts can vary
                substantially across and within different regions of the world
                (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007, pp. 8-12). Therefore,
                we use ``downscaled'' projections when they are available and have been
                developed through appropriate scientific procedures because such
                projections provide higher-resolution information that is more relevant
                to spatial scales used for analyses of a given species (see Glick et
                al. 2011, pp. 58-61, for a discussion of downscaling).
                 Downscaled projections as of 2016 were available for our analysis
                of the Franklin's bumble bee from the U.S. Geological Survey's National
                Climate Change Viewer (Alder, J. and S. Hostetler. 2016, entire). The
                National Climate Change Viewer is based on the mean of 30 models, which
                can be used to predict changes in air temperature and precipitation for
                Jackson County, Oregon (location of the last known occurrence record of
                Franklin's bumble bee), for two greenhouse gas emission scenarios,
                RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. From the year 2020 to the year 2050, the model set
                shows an increase in the mean maximum air temperature of between 1.9
                degrees Fahrenheit ([deg]F) (1 degree Celsius ([deg]C)) (RCP4.5) and
                3.1 [deg]F (1.7 [deg]C) (RCP8.5), and an increase in the mean annual
                minimum air temperature of between 1.0 [deg]F (0.3 [deg]C) (RCP4.5) and
                2.7 [deg]F (1.5 [deg]C) (RCP8.5). For both scenarios, mean
                precipitation is predicted to decrease by approximately 0.4 inches (10
                millimeters) for both scenarios.
                 Projections for an increase in temperature and decrease in
                precipitation over the next 30 years may lead to alteration in the
                vegetation community in Franklin's bumble bee habitat, including the
                varieties of floral resources that Franklin's bumble bee relies on for
                nectar. However, we have no information to suggest that these changes
                will result in a decrease in the availability of nectar resources to
                the species. Some studies suggest that pollinators are responding to
                climate change with recent latitudinal and elevational range shifts
                such that there is spatial mismatch among plants and their pollinators;
                while this has been demonstrated in butterflies, it may be less of a
                factor for bumble bees (Service 2018a, p. 36). As generalist foragers,
                bumble bees do not require synchrony with a particular plant species,
                although some bumble bee populations are active earlier in the season
                than in the past (Bartomeus et al. 2011, p. 20646).
                 Projections for an increase in temperature and decrease in
                precipitation over the next 30 years may also affect the frequency or
                intensity of wildfires and storm events (including flooding). These
                events could affect the availability of floral resources, the
                suitability of nest locations, and the survival of overwintering
                queens. However, we do not have information projecting the timing,
                scope, or intensity of wildfires or storms; the stochastic nature of
                these events limits our ability to project the magnitude of impact on
                the future condition of Franklin's bumble bee or its habitat, and
                hinders our ability to assess their impact on the viability of the
                species.
                Summary
                 Although habitat loss has had negative effects on bumble bees, we
                conclude it is unlikely to be a main driver of the decline of the
                Franklin's bumble bee. Habitat appears generally intact and in good
                condition throughout the known, historical locations of the Franklin's
                bumble bee and throughout all of the recent focused survey areas (with
                the exceptions of the historical sites affected by the creation of Lake
                Applegate in the fall of 1980, and soil modification that occurred on a
                portion of the Gold Hill site in 2004). In our assessment, we found no
                information to suggest that destruction, degradation, or conversion of
                habitat occurred at a scope and magnitude that would cause it to be a
                primary factor in the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee (Service
                2018a, pp. 35-37). Furthermore, we have no information to suggest that
                habitat destruction or modification will increase in scope and
                magnitude to the point where it will be a primary stressor to the
                species in its range in the near future.
                 A number of diseases and parasites are known to occur in bumble bee
                populations. These include the protozoan parasite Crithidia bombi (C.
                bombi), the tracheal mite Locustacarus buchneri, the microsporidium
                (parasitic fungus) Nosema bombi (N. bombi), as well as deformed wing
                virus. Pathogens
                [[Page 47228]]
                and parasites are widespread generalists in the host genus, but affect
                species differently according to host susceptibility and tolerance to
                infection (Kissinger et al. 2011, p. 221; Malfi and Roulston 2014, p.
                18). The host species' life history plays a role in the virulence of a
                given pathogen; for instance, parasites may have relatively smaller
                effects on species with shorter colony life cycles and smaller colony
                sizes (Rutrecht and Brown 2009, entire).
                 Pathogen spillover is a process whereby parasites and pathogens
                spread from commercial bee colonies to native bee populations (Colla et
                al. 2006, p. 461; Otterstatter and Thompson 2008, p. 1). The decline of
                certain Bombus species from the mid-1990s to present, particularly
                species in the subgenus Bombus sensu stricto (including Franklin's
                bumble bee), was contemporaneous with the collapse of commercially bred
                western bumble bee (raised primarily to pollinate greenhouse tomato and
                sweet pepper crops beginning in the late 1980s) (Szabo et al. 2012, pp.
                232-233). This collapse was attributed to infections of Nosema bombi.
                 Nosema bombi has been detected in native bumble bees in North
                America, and has been found to be a part of the natural pathogen load.
                The fungus has been reported in Canada since the 1940s (Cordes et al.
                2011, p. 7) and appears to have a broad host range in North American
                (Kissinger et al. 2011, p. 222). Infections of the pathogen primarily
                occur in the malpighian tubules (small excretory or water regulating
                glands), but also in fat bodies, nerve cells, and sometimes the trachea
                (Macfarlane et al. 1995). Bombus colonies can appear to be healthy but
                still carry N. bombi and transmit it to other colonies, most likely
                when spores are fed to larvae and then infected adults drift into non-
                natal colonies (Service 2018a, p. 25).
                 While we have no evidence of direct effects of a virulent strain of
                N. bombi on the Franklin's bumble bee, N. bombi has been detected in
                closely related species in the range of the Franklin's bumble bee.
                Furthermore, N. bombi infections in rare species like the Franklin's
                bumble bee are more frequent, are more severe, and seem to affect a
                higher percentage of individuals of the species (Cameron et al. 2011,
                entire; Cordes et al. 2011, p. 2).
                 The effect of pathogens on bumble bees varies from mild to severe
                (Macfarlane et al. 1995; Rutrecht et al. 2007, p. 1719; Otti and
                Schmid-Hempel 2008, p. 577). Bumble bees infected with Nosema bombi may
                have crippled wings, and queens may have distended abdomens and be
                unable to mate (Otti and Schmid-Hempel 2007, pp. 122-123). Malfi and
                Roulston (2014, p. 24) found that N. bombi infections are more frequent
                and more severe in rare species, and the species with the highest
                percentages of infected individuals were rare species. Furthermore, the
                effects of pathogen infection on bumble bees may be amplified by other
                influence factors. Nutritional stress may compromise the ability of
                bumble bees to survive parasitic infections, as evidenced by a
                significant difference in mortality in bumble bees on a restricted diet
                compared to well-fed bees infected with C. bombi (Brown et al. 2000,
                pp. 424-425).
                 A virulent strain of Nosema bombi from the buff-tailed bumble bee
                (Bombus terrestris) may have spread to the eastern bumble bee (B.
                impatiens) and western bumble bee from Europe. In the mid-1990s,
                companies shipped queen eastern and western bumble bees to Europe for
                their development into colonies to use in commercial pollination
                services. When the colonies had reached sufficient size, they were
                shipped back to the United States and deployed in industrial greenhouse
                operations in California, primarily to pollinate tomatoes and peppers.
                The colonies may have picked up N. bombi prior to their shipment back
                into the United States, and once in this country, the commercially
                reared colonies may have spread the virulent strain to wild populations
                of Franklin's bumble bee (Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, p. 14). In
                work partially funded by the Service, the University of Illinois
                conducted surveys for parasites and pathogens in bumble bee populations
                of the Pacific Northwest and Midwest between 2005 and 2009. The goal
                was to assess Bombus populations for presence and prevalence of
                pathogens, particularly microsporidia, in an effort to provide baseline
                data to assess disease as a potential factor in the decline of the
                Franklin's bumble bee, western bumble bee, and American bumble bee (B.
                pensylvanicus) (Solter et al. 2010, p. 1). The highest prevalence of N.
                bombi was found in western bumble bee, with 26 percent of collected
                individuals infected. Crithidia bombi infections of western bumble bee
                were 2.8 percent overall (Solter et al. 2010, pp. 3-4); no Franklin's
                bumble bees were collected during the study. However, Mt. Ashland,
                Oregon, was one of only three sites in the Pacific Northwest study area
                where N. bombi infections were found in multiple Bombus species (the
                indiscriminate cuckoo bumble bee (B. insularis) and black-notched
                bumble bee (B. bifarius)) (Solter et al. 2010, pp. 3-4). Although
                Cordes et al. (2011, p. 7) found a new allele in N. bombi, the recent
                study by Cameron et al. (2016) found no evidence of an exotic strain of
                N. bombi.
                 In summary, known pathogens occur within the historical range of
                the Franklin's bumble bee, and we have evidence of several pathogens
                infecting closely related species within that range that have also
                likely affected the Franklin's bumble bee. Although we have no direct
                evidence of pathogens playing a role in the decline of the Franklin's
                bumble bee, the disappearance of the Franklin's bumble bee occurred
                soon after a period of potential exposure to introduced pathogens,
                particularly N. bombi, which is known to have a more severe impact on
                rare species like the Franklin's bumble bee. Decline of other closely
                related pollinators has been associated with these pathogens, and it is
                highly likely pathogens have had some negative influence on the
                resiliency of Franklin's bumble bee populations.
                Pesticide Use
                 Exposure to pesticides can occur to bumble bees from direct spray
                or drift, or from gathering or consuming contaminated nectar or pollen
                (Johansen and Mayer 1990; Morandin et al. 2005, p. 619). Lethal and
                sublethal effects on bumble bee eggs, larvae, and adults have been
                documented for many different pesticides under various scenarios
                (Service 2018a, p. 28). Documented sub-lethal effects to individual
                bumble bees and colonies include reduced or no male production, reduced
                or no egg hatch, reduced queen production, reduced queen longevity,
                reduced colony weight gain, reduced brood size, reduced feeding,
                impaired ovary development, and an increased number of foragers or
                foraging trips or duration (interpreted as risky behaviors) (Service
                2018a, p. 28). Bumble bee habitat can also be impacted by pesticides
                due to changes in vegetation and the removal or reduction of flowers
                needed to provide consistent sources of pollen, nectar, and nesting
                material (Service 2018a, p. 28). Declines in bumble bees in parts of
                Europe have been at least partially attributed to the use of pesticides
                (Williams 1986, p. 54; Kosior et al. 2007, p. 81).
                 Although the use of land for agricultural purposes has
                traditionally involved the use of pesticides and other products toxic
                to bees, one particular class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids
                have been strongly implicated in the decline of honey bees (Apis spp.)
                worldwide, and implicated in the decline of several Bombus
                [[Page 47229]]
                species, including rusty patched bumble bee, buff-tailed bumble bee,
                and eastern bumble bee (Pisa et al. 2015, p. 69; Goulson 2013, pp. 7-8;
                Colla and Packer 2008, p. 10; Lundin et al. 2015, p. 7). Neonicotinoids
                are a broad class of insecticides based on nicotine compounds used in a
                variety of agricultural applications; they act as a neurotoxin,
                affecting the central nervous system of insects by interfering with the
                receptors of the insects' nervous system, causing overstimulation,
                paralysis, and death (Douglas and Tooker 2015, pp. 5090-5092). The
                neonicotinoid family of insecticides includes acetamiprid,
                clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid, and
                thiamethoxam. In the range of the Franklin's bumble bee (Jackson,
                Douglas, and Josephine Counties in Oregon, as well as Trinity and
                Siskiyou Counties in California), the first reported use of
                imidacloprid was in 1996, thiamethoxam in 2001, and clothianidin in
                2004. The use of neonicotinoid pesticides continued in the range of the
                species through 2006, when the last observation of the Franklin's
                bumble bee was recorded. Across all five counties, total estimated
                applications of these three neonicotinoids increased from 53.31 pounds
                (lbs) (24.19 kilograms (kg)) in 1996, to 1,144.6 lbs (519.9 kg) in
                2014. However, the exponential growth of neonicotinoid applications
                started in 2011, 5 years after the last observation of the species. The
                vast majority of neonicotinoids are used as seed treatments on grains
                and other field crops (Oregon Department of Agriculture 2018, pers.
                comm.), and total agricultural land within the historical range of the
                species is less than 2 percent of the total land base (2011 National
                Land Cover Data Set and 2016 USDA Crop Data Layers (CDL) in Syngenta
                2019, pers. comm).
                 No studies have investigated the effects of pesticide use on the
                Franklin's bumble bee, and no discoveries have been documented of any
                Franklin's bumble bees injured or killed by pesticides. The Franklin's
                bumble bee is a habitat generalist and is not known to have a close
                association with agricultural lands; therefore, it may have less
                exposure to pesticides than some other Bombus species. However,
                pesticide use occurs in the range of the Franklin's bumble bee. The
                similarity in foraging traits that the Franklin's bumble bee has with
                both honey bees and the other Bombus species (e.g., generalist foragers
                collecting pollen from similar food sources) allows us to infer that
                Franklin's bumble bee populations are likely to suffer exposure to and
                impacts from pesticides in similar measure to other Bombus species when
                the Franklin's bumble bee is in areas where pesticides are applied.
                Effects of Small Population Size
                 The Franklin's bumble bee is rare and has always had very small
                populations (relative to other similar, native bumble bees in the
                western United States), and likely has low genetic diversity due to the
                haplodiploid genetic system it shares with all Bombus species (Zayed
                2009, p. 238). These factors make the species more vulnerable to
                habitat change or loss, parasites, diseases, stochastic events, and
                other natural disasters such as droughts (Xerces Society and Thorp
                2010, p. 20). Between 1998 and 2006, the number of Franklin's bumble
                bee observations went from a high of 98 at 11 locations, to a lone
                individual in 2006. No observations of the Franklin's bumble bee have
                occurred since 2006, despite an increase in survey effort. Diploid male
                production has been detected in naturally occurring populations of
                bumble bees, and recent modeling work has shown that diploid male
                production may initiate a rapid extinction vortex (a situation in which
                genetic and demographic traits and environmental conditions reinforce
                each other in a downward spiral, leading to extinction) (Goulsen et al.
                2008, p. 11.8). Because of inbreeding and the production of sterile
                males, the haplodiploid genetic system makes bumble bees very
                vulnerable when populations get small (Colla 2018, pers. comm.).
                Although we have no direct evidence that small population size or a
                rapid extinction vortex contributed to the decline of the species, the
                genetic system and historically small population size of the Franklin's
                bumble bee likely heightened the species' vulnerability to other
                threats in the environment; we, therefore, consider the effects of
                small population size a synergistic threat to the species.
                Competition With Nonnative Bees
                 The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) was first introduced to
                eastern North America in the early 1620s, and into California in the
                early 1850s (Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, p. 21). The resource needs
                of the European honey bee and native Bombus species may overlap,
                resulting in the potential for increased competition for resources
                (Thomson 2004, p. 458; Thomson 2006, p. 407). Decreased foraging
                activity and lowered reproductive success of Bombus colonies have been
                noted near European honey bee hives (Evans 2001, pp. 32-33; Thomson
                2004, p. 458; Thomson 2006, p. 407). Additionally, the size of workers
                of native Bombus species were noticeably reduced where European honey
                bees were present, which may be detrimental to Bombus colony success
                (Goulson and Sparrow 2009, p. 177). It is likely that the effects
                discussed in these studies are local in space and time, and most
                pronounced where floral resources are limited and large numbers of
                commercial European honey bee colonies are introduced (Xerces Society
                and Thorp 2010, p. 21). We have no information to indicate that any
                area of Franklin's bumble bee habitat in the range of the species has
                limited floral resources and large numbers of European honey bees. We
                have no information related to the specific placement of commercial
                honey bee colonies in or near Franklin's bumble bee habitat.
                Furthermore, European honey bees have been present without noticeable
                declines in Bombus populations over large portions of their ranges
                (Xerces Society and Thorp 2010, p. 21), and we have no new information
                that connects competition from European honey bees to the decline of
                the Franklin's bumble bee.
                 There is potential for nonnative, commercially raised bumble bees
                to naturalize and outcompete native bumble bees for limited resources
                such as nesting sites and forage areas. Five commercially reared
                eastern bumble bee workers and one queen were captured in the wild near
                greenhouses where commercial bumble bees are used, suggesting this
                species may have naturalized outside of its native range. The eastern
                bumble bee, which has a native range in eastern North America, was
                detected in western Canada (Ratti and Colla 2010, pp. 29-31). In Japan,
                nonnative buff-tailed bumble bee colonies founded by bees that had
                escaped from commercially produced colonies had more than four times
                the mean reproductive output of native bumble bees (Matsumura et al.
                2004, p. 93). In England, commercially raised buff-tailed bumble bee
                colonies had higher nectar-foraging rates and greater reproductive
                output than a native subspecies of the buff-tailed bumble bee (Ings et
                al. 2006, p. 940). Colonies of eastern bumble bee were imported to
                pollinate agricultural crops and strawberries in Grants Pass, Oregon,
                in the range of the Franklin's bumble bee (Xerces Society and Thorp
                2010, p. 18).
                 Although nonnative Bombus species in the range of Franklin's bumble
                bee could outcompete Franklin's bumble bee for floral resources and
                nesting habitat, we have no information to definitively connect
                competition with
                [[Page 47230]]
                nonnative bumble bees to the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee.
                Furthermore, invertebrate surveys in Franklin's bumble bee habitat
                continue to show evidence of healthy populations of other native Bombus
                species unaffected by competition from nonnative bees (Pool 2014,
                entire; Colyer 2016, entire).
                Summary
                 We find that several natural and other human-caused factors
                contributed to the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee. While it is
                unlikely that pesticides alone can account for the decline of the
                Franklin's bumble bee, documented effects of pesticides on closely
                related Bombus species suggest pesticide use was likely a factor in the
                decline of the Franklin's bumble bee. The haplodiploid genetic system
                of the Franklin's bumble bee, combined with its historically small
                population size, was also likely a factor in the decline of the
                species. Although nonnative Bombus species in the range of the
                Franklin's bumble bee could outcompete the Franklin's bumble bee for
                floral resources and nesting habitat, we have no information connecting
                competition with nonnative bumble bees to the decline of the Franklin's
                bumble bee. Additionally, surveys in Franklin's bumble bee habitat
                continue to show evidence of healthy populations of other native Bombus
                species unaffected by competition from nonnative bees.
                Synergistic and Cumulative Effects
                 It is likely that several threats are acting cumulatively and
                synergistically on many Bombus species, including the Franklin's bumble
                bee (Goulson et al. 2015, p. 5), and the combination of multiple
                threats is likely more harmful than any one acting alone (Gill et al.
                2012, p. 108; Coors and DeMeester 2008, p. 1821; Sih et al. 2004, p.
                274). There is recent evidence that the interactive effects of
                pesticides and pathogens could be particularly harmful for bumble bees
                (Service 2018a, p. 39). Nutritional stress may compromise the ability
                of bumble bees to survive parasitic infections (Brown et al. 2000, pp.
                424-425). Bumble bees with activated immunity may have metabolic costs,
                such as increased food consumption (Tyler et al. 2006, p. 2; Moret and
                Schmid-Hempel 2000, pp. 1166-1167). Additionally, exposure to
                pesticides may increase with increased food consumption in infected
                bees (Goulson et al. 2015, p. 5). Activating immunity impairs learning
                in bumble bees (Riddell and Mallon 2006; Alghamdi et al. 2008, p. 480).
                Impaired learning is thought to reduce the ability of bees to locate
                floral resources and extract nectar and pollen, therefore exacerbating
                nutritional stresses (Goulson et al. 2015, p. 5). Further, declining
                North American species with low genetic diversity have higher
                prevalence of the pathogen Nosema bombi (Cameron et al. 2011, p. 665).
                In summary, we, therefore, find that pathogens in combination with
                pesticides, as well as pathogens in combination with the effects of
                small population size, may have hastened and amplified the decline of
                the Franklin's bumble bee to a greater degree than any one of the three
                threats would cause on its own.
                Existing Regulatory Mechanisms and Conservation Efforts
                 Surveys conducted by Dr. Robbin Thorp, other private individuals,
                university classes and researchers, the U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau
                of Land Management have significantly contributed to the existing
                information on Franklin's bumble bee. However, other than those search
                efforts, we are aware of no conservation efforts or beneficial actions
                specifically taken to address threats to the Franklin's bumble bee.
                Oregon does not include invertebrates on their State endangered species
                list (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 2018, entire) and
                California has no bee species included on its list of threatened and
                endangered invertebrates (California Department of Fish and Wildlife
                2018, entire). California has the Franklin's bumble bee listed on its
                list of terrestrial and vernal pool invertebrates of conservation
                priority but has no required actions or special protections associated
                with the listing (California Department of Fish and Wildlife 2017, p.
                10). The Franklin's bumble bee is on the species index for the U.S.
                Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Interagency Special
                Status/Sensitive Species Program (ISSSSP). Although the Federal
                agencies include the species in survey efforts and conduct general
                meadow enhancement activities, there are no actions resulting from the
                ISSSSP classification that address known threats to the Franklin's
                bumble bee (ISSSSP 2018, entire).
                 General awareness of colony collapse disorder and increase of
                conservation efforts for pollinators in general has likely had limited,
                indirect effects on policies and regulations. The U.S. Forest Service
                is working to include a section in all biological evaluations to
                address the effects from agency actions on pollinators. In addition,
                the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is implementing ongoing
                projects and mitigations to create and enhance pollinator habitat
                (Colyer 2018, pers. comm.). The Oregon Department of Agriculture
                restricts some potential sources of Nosema bombi from entering the
                State for agricultural uses, including commercially produced colonies
                of eastern bumble bee; only Bombus species native to Oregon are allowed
                for commercial pollination purposes (Oregon Department of Agriculture
                2017, p. 5). However, California allows, with appropriate permits, the
                importation of eastern bumble bee, and other species such as the blue
                orchard bee (Osmia lignaria), for greenhouse pollination (California
                Department of Food and Agriculture 2017), making the potential for
                pathogen spillover from nonnative bees higher in California.
                 Some local municipalities in Oregon enacted legislation against
                aerial pesticide applications but none in the range of the Franklin's
                bumble bee (Powell 2017, p. 1; City of Portland 2015, p. 2). However,
                in the 2017 legislative session, Oregon passed an Avoidance of Adverse
                Effects on Pollinating Insects law (Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS)
                634.045) that is providing enhanced training of licensed and unlicensed
                pesticide applicators in the State (Melathopoulos 2018, pers. comm.),
                and could thereby reduce effects of pesticides on pollinators,
                including Franklin's bumble bee.
                 In January 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office
                of Pesticide Programs published their ``Policy to Mitigate the Acute
                Risk to Bees from Pesticide Products,'' which recommended new labeling
                statements for pesticide products, including warnings for pesticides
                with a known acute toxicity to bees (Tier 1 pesticides), including
                neonicotinoids (specifically including imidacloprid, clothianidin, and
                thiamethoxam) (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2017, p. 31). In
                addition, the Environmental Protection Agency is working with State and
                Tribal agencies to develop and implement local pollinator protection
                plans, known as Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s). The
                Environmental Protection Agency is promoting MP3s to address potential
                pesticide exposure to bees and other pollinators at and beyond the site
                of the application. However, States and Tribes have the flexibility to
                determine the scope of pollinator protection plans that best responds
                to pollinator issues in their regions. For example, State and Tribal
                MP3s may address pesticide-related risks to all pollinators, including
                managed bees and wild insect and non-insect pollinators (U.S.
                Environmental Protection Agency 2018). The Service implemented a ban on
                the use of
                [[Page 47231]]
                neonicotinoids on all lands in the National Wildlife Refuge System in
                2014 (Service 2014); however, no refuge lands occur within the range of
                the Franklin's bumble bee, and the Service rescinded the ban in 2018
                (Service 2018b, entire). None of these aforementioned regulatory or
                conservation measures has appreciably reduced or fully ameliorated
                threats to the Franklin's bumble bee, as evidenced by the species'
                acute and rangewide decline.
                 We note that, by using the SSA framework to guide our analysis of
                the scientific information documented in the SSA report, we have not
                only analyzed individual effects on the species, but we have also
                analyzed their potential cumulative effects. We incorporate the
                cumulative effects into our SSA analysis when we characterize the
                current and future condition of the species. Our assessment of the
                current status of the Franklin's bumble bee incorporates the threats
                individually and cumulatively. Our assessment is iterative because it
                accumulates and evaluates the effects of all the factors that may be
                influencing the species, including threats and conservation efforts.
                Because the SSA framework considers not just the presence of the
                factors, but to what degree they collectively influence risk to the
                entire species, our assessment integrates the cumulative effects of the
                factors and replaces a standalone cumulative effects analysis.
                Summary of Status
                 The significant decrease in abundance and distribution of the
                Franklin's bumble bee to date has greatly reduced the species' ability
                to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to guard against
                further losses of adaptive diversity and potential extinction due to
                catastrophic events. It also substantially reduced the ability of the
                Franklin's bumble bee to withstand environmental variation,
                catastrophic events, and changes in physical and biological conditions.
                Coupled with the increased risk of extirpation due to the interaction
                of reduced population size and the species' haplodiploid genetic
                system, the Franklin's bumble bee may lack the resiliency required to
                sustain populations into the future, even without further exposure to
                pathogens and pesticides.
                Summary of Comments and Recommendations
                 In our proposed rule published on August 13, 2019 (84 FR 40006), we
                requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the
                proposal by October 15, 2019. All comments we received are posted at
                http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2018-0044. We
                contacted appropriate Federal and State agencies (in both Oregon and
                California), scientific experts and organizations, and other interested
                parties and invited them to comment on the proposal, even if they
                previously provided peer or partner review comments on the SSA report.
                We did not receive any additional comments from individuals or agencies
                who had previously provided peer review or partner review on the SSA
                report. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. We
                reviewed all comments for substantive issues and new information
                regarding the Franklin's bumble bee. During the comment period, we
                received 53 letters or statements directly addressing the proposed
                action, including one comment with 15,749 signatures (supporting the
                listing of the Franklin's bumble bee). All but one of the commenters
                supported the listing of the Franklin's bumble bee as endangered. All
                but one of the commenters disagreed with our determination that
                designating critical habitat is not prudent. Substantive comments we
                received during the comment period are addressed below and, where
                appropriate, are incorporated directly into this final rule.
                Public Comments
                 (1) Comment: Several commenters disagreed with our conclusion that
                Franklin's bumble bees are habitat generalists. Commenters stated that
                the limited range of the species demonstrates that it is only found in
                specific habitats and that if the species was truly a habitat
                generalist, it would be expected to have a much larger range. They
                noted that the range of the species is limited to the Siskiyou
                Mountains, a subset of the Klamath Mountain region of southern Oregon
                and southwestern California, and that there are specific
                characteristics of Franklin's bumble bee habitat in that area that can
                be identified, such as montane meadows rich in lupine, California
                poppy, mountain monardella, and clover. Commenters note that the
                Siskiyou Range is known for its high number of endemic species and
                these other endemic species are not considered habitat generalists.
                 Our Response: As stated in the SSA report, our analyses are
                predicated on multiple assumptions due to the significant lack of
                species-specific information for Franklin's bumble bee (2018a, p. 6).
                We further note that for the purposes of the analyses in the SSA
                report, we rely heavily on information from closely-related species
                from the same sub-genus, Bombus sensu stricto, particularly the rusty
                patched bumble bee and the western bumble bee. The range of the western
                bumble bee completely overlaps the historical range of Franklin's
                bumble bee, and the western bumble bee is still found at several known
                Franklin's bumble bee locations, most recently in 2019 at Mt. Ashland,
                the last known location of Franklin's bumble bee. As mentioned in the
                August 13, 2019, proposed rule (84 FR 40006) and the SSA report, a
                specific habitat study for the species has not been completed, nor have
                the specific life-history characteristics and behavior of this rare
                species been studied. Despite uncertainties regarding the Franklin's
                bumble bee's habitat needs, we know they need (1) floral resources for
                nectaring throughout the colony cycle, and (2) relatively protected
                areas for breeding and shelter. The habitat elements appearing to
                fulfill those needs that have documented use by the Franklin's bumble
                bee are relatively plentiful and widely distributed.
                 In our expert elicitation, we asked the following question: In
                looking at the distribution map of all known occurrences of Franklin's
                bumble bee, are there areas in Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Siskiyou,
                and Trinity Counties in addition to these occurrence sites that might
                contain the species' known foraging plants: Lupine (Lupinus spp.),
                California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), horsemint or nettle-leaf
                giant hyssop (Agastache urticifolia), and mountain monardella
                (Monardella odoratissima)? Dr. Thorp (the preeminent authority on
                Franklin's bumble bee) responded that he was ``trying to figure out
                what defined or limited habitat at the time that [the species]
                disappeared.'' Dr. Thorp noted that the species had historically ranged
                from 500 ft in elevation at Sutherland to over 6,700 ft at Mt. Shasta
                and Mt. Ashland, meaning they could go through multiple mountain passes
                to extend east or south, but they did not; they were not limited by
                geography. Further, they were also not limited by flowering plants;
                they are generalist foragers (Thorp 2018, pers. comm). In addition,
                bumble bees ``are classic generalist foragers, capable of working a
                wide variety of plants for their resources'' (Williams et al. 2014, p.
                15). The historical record also suggests the Franklin's bumble bee may
                use a variety of nesting substrates given that a colony was found in a
                residential garage in Medford, Oregon (Thorp 2017, pers. comm.).
                [[Page 47232]]
                 We agree that the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion, which hosts much of
                the historical range of the Franklin's bumble bee, is very diverse and
                relatively rich in endemic species. The Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion is
                considered a global center of biodiversity, is an International Union
                for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Area of Global Botanical Significance
                (1 of 7 in North America), and is proposed as a World Heritage Site and
                United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
                (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve (World Wildlife Fund 2020, entire).
                Extensive literature is available describing some of the biologic
                investigations in this ecoregion (University of Oregon 2020, entire).
                However, we are not aware of any information linking Franklin's bumble
                bee exclusively to endemic habitat features, including floral resources
                specific to this ecosystem.
                 (2) Comment: One commenter noted that forage is only one component
                of Franklin's bumble bee's niche and does not alone define a habitat
                generalist, citing Devictor et al. 2010. They stated that even if the
                species is a general forager it could still have a relatively narrow
                habitat niche, adding that narrow pollen diets are associated with
                other rare bumble bees like Franklin's bumble bee. They referenced a
                recent study, Wood et al. 2019, that looked at the diets of two species
                closely related to Franklin's bumble bee, the American bumble bee and
                rusty patch bumble bee, and found these declining species had a narrow
                pollen diet, collecting around one-third fewer pollen types than other
                more stable species. The study further noted that these two species are
                short-tongued and the anatomical feature was mentioned as a potential
                factor in their narrower diet.
                 Our Response: There are many factors related to Franklin's bumble
                bees and their habitat that we do not yet, and may never, understand;
                however, the information gathered for our assessment, including the
                opinion of the preeminent authority on the species (Dr. Robbin Thorp),
                indicates that Franklin's bumble bee is likely a habitat generalist.
                The commenter cites Devictor et al. 2010, when noting forage is only
                one component of Franklin's bumble bee's niche and may not alone define
                a habitat generalist. However, the same paper also states that a
                measure of ecological specialization is the assumption that specialists
                should co-occur with relatively few species; this is in contrast to
                generalist species who should co-occur with many different species
                across sites (Devictor et al. 2010, p. 23), as has been observed with
                Franklin's bumble bees.
                 We agree that narrow pollen diets likely play a role in the decline
                of some Bombus species as the distribution and abundance of their
                floral resources change, but we do not have sufficient information to
                determine if this was a significant causal factor in the decline of the
                Franklin's bumble bee. We do have some records of the species of plants
                visited by Franklin's bumble bee, but we do not have an exhaustive or
                comprehensive list. Of the plants Franklin's bumble bee is known to
                use, many are widely distributed. For example, California poppy is
                found in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota, and
                northwestern Baja California, Mexico. Nettle-leaf giant hyssop (horse
                mint) is native throughout western North America from British Columbia
                in Canada, to California to Colorado, where it grows in a wide variety
                of habitat types. Mountain monardella is found in montane forests
                between 600 m and 3,100 m (1,969 ft and 10,170 ft) in elevation in
                Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Utah. Regarding tongue length, although
                the Franklin's bumble bee is a short-tongued species, Wood et al. found
                no evidence of tongue length as a predictor of dietary breadth (2019,
                p. 9).
                 (3) Comment: Several commenters disagreed that the present or
                threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat is not
                a threat to the Franklin's bumble bee. One commenter stated that the
                Service analyzed fire suppression, agricultural intensification, urban
                development, livestock grazing, and effects of climate change, but only
                as to whether they contributed to the historical decline of Franklin's
                bumble bee, not as current threats. One commenter stated that the
                climate change effects of increased drought severity, wildfire risk,
                and winter or early season flood risk are clear threats to Franklin's
                bumble bee habitat in the current and near future; they noted that
                flood risk is especially concerning for overwintering hibernating
                queens who may suffer mortality or respond by emerging too early for
                floral resources. The commenter also noted that due to the myriad of
                threats outlined in the August 13, 2019, proposed rule (84 FR 40006),
                it is incorrect to conclude that Franklin's bumble bee's habitat is
                unlimited in its capacity to provide uncontaminated resources to the
                species. One commenter stated that all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use and
                herbicide use are current threats to Franklin's bumble bee's habitat,
                but provided no additional information upon which to base those claims.
                 Our Response: In our analysis of the threats facing Franklin's
                bumble bee in the SSA report, we completed a review of the best
                available scientific and commercial information on threats that have
                been present in the range of the bee (Service 2018a, pp. 23-40). During
                the public comment period on the proposed rule we did not receive any
                new information regarding potential threats that prompted us to change
                the conclusions in our analysis. The viability analysis takes into
                account the threats to the species that have influenced historical
                populations, threats that are influencing the current condition of
                populations, and threats which are likely to play a role in the
                species' overall viability into the future. In our SSA report for
                Franklin's bumble bee, we noted those threats that are likely to play a
                role in the future (pathogens, pesticides, and the synergistic effects
                of small population size), but did not complete a full future condition
                analysis; the dearth of information on this species, particularly the
                lack of species occurrence information after 2006, limited our ability
                to compare current and future condition.
                 Although empirical data are currently unavailable regarding the
                level of habitat loss and degradation specifically affecting the
                Franklin's bumble bee, we do know that habitat impacts have caused the
                decline of other Bombus species (e.g., Goulson et al. 2015, p. 2;
                Goulson and Darvill 2008, pp. 193-194; Brown and Paxton 2009, pp. 411-
                412). Although habitat loss has had negative effects on Bombus species
                in general, available information did not indicate it was a driver of
                the decline of Franklin's bumble bee. Habitat appears generally intact
                and in good condition throughout the known historical locations of the
                Franklin's bumble bee and in all recent focused survey areas, and many
                of these habitats currently host a wide variety of other bumble bees,
                including closely-related species like the western bumble bee. As noted
                above in Summary of Biological Status and Threats, we have no
                information to suggest that any known Franklin's bumble bee locations
                were in the path of wildfire at the time those locations were occupied.
                Further, as made evident in our geographic information system (GIS)
                analysis, most of the recent locations with confirmed Franklin's bumble
                bee observations are on publicly owned land that is managed to preserve
                habitat conditions through a variety of mechanisms, including fire
                suppression. Furthermore, we have no information to suggest that
                habitat destruction or modification from fire
                [[Page 47233]]
                suppression, agricultural intensification, urban development, and
                livestock grazing will increase in intensity to the point where they
                will be threats to the viability of the species in the future (Bureau
                of Land Management 2016, p. 103; Portland State University 2015, p. 7;
                U.S. Forest Service 1989, IV-87 to IV-90, IV-113 to IV-119; U.S. Forest
                Service 1990, pp. 4-149 to 4-179; Service 2018a, p. 32).
                 Future changes in temperature and precipitation may lead to changes
                in the vegetation community in Franklin's bumble bee habitat. However,
                as a habitat generalist, Franklin's bumble bee appears to forage on a
                variety of floral resources, and we have no information to suggest that
                they would not seek the nectar of whatever floral resource was in bloom
                at the time they emerge from their nests. Additionally, the risk of
                catastrophic wildfire and seasonal flooding, as well as other effects
                from storm events, are naturally present in the ecosystems within the
                range of the Franklin's bumble bee. The effects of climate change may
                affect the frequency and intensity of these events, thereby affecting
                the availability of floral resources, the suitability of nest
                locations, and the survival of overwintering queens. However, we cannot
                project the likelihood of when or where these events will occur, or how
                intense they will be if they do occur.
                 We agree that Franklin's bumble bee habitat is not unlimited. As we
                point out in the beginning of the SSA report, Franklin's bumble bee is
                the most narrowly endemic bumble bee in North America, and possibly the
                world. In accordance with listing Franklin's bumble bee as endangered
                under the Act, we will develop a recovery outline for this species.
                Current and possible future threats will be considered during recovery
                planning for this species.
                 (4) Comment: One commenter disagreed that critical habitat could
                not be defined. They point to our proposed rule, which states that
                surveys have been done in areas that appear to have good habitat for
                Bombus and Franklin's bumble bee, as evidence that there are known and
                defined characteristics of potential critical habitat in previously
                occupied areas.
                 Our Response: While we acknowledge that some general habitat
                associations of Bombus are known, the Franklin's bumble bee has been
                found in a wide array of habitat types, from foraging in montane
                meadows in a remote wilderness area of California to nesting in a
                residential garage in the city limits of Medford, Oregon. Furthermore,
                elevation does not appear to limit the species' dispersal capabilities.
                No habitat study for the Franklin's bumble bee has been completed; such
                a study was initiated in 2006, when the Franklin's bumble bee was last
                seen, but could not continue due to the subsequent absence of the
                species. As such, we cannot with specificity articulate the physical or
                biological features essential to the conservation of the Franklin's
                bumble bee, or determine whether or not any area would meet the
                definition of critical habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee (see
                discussion under Prudency Determination, below).
                 Even if physical and biological features can be articulated for the
                species, the regulations in effect at the time the species was proposed
                for listing indicated that we may find that designating critical
                habitat is not prudent if it is not beneficial to the species. With the
                exception of the inundation of two sites with older historical
                occurrences of Franklin's bumble bee locations by the construction of
                Applegate Dam, and a report of soil modification on a portion of the
                Gold Hill site 4 years after the last occurrence of Franklin's bumble
                bee in the area, no noticeable destruction, modification, or
                curtailment of habitat or range can be identified in areas where the
                species had been previously located. No significant destruction or
                modification of Franklin's bumble bee habitat can be attributed to
                natural fire, prescribed fire, agricultural intensification, urban
                development, livestock grazing, or the effects of climate change.
                Additionally, as discussed above, the Franklin's bumble bee has been
                documented using a wide variety of habitats throughout its range.
                Because habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee is not limiting, and
                because the bee is considered to be flexible with regards to its
                habitat, the availability of habitat does not limit the conservation of
                the Franklin's bumble bee now, nor will it in the future (see response
                to Comment (3)). Therefore, we have determined that designation of
                critical habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee is not beneficial to the
                species and, therefore, not prudent.
                 (5) Comment: Two commenters disagreed that the designation of
                critical habitat would not be beneficial to the conservation of the
                species. They argue it would be beneficial due to the following: (1)
                Critical habitat would promote connectivity between habitat patches,
                which will help reduce the risk of inbreeding depression and promote
                recovery of the species; (2) many studies have shown the link between
                quality habitat and nutrition and health of bumble bee colonies, and
                critical habitat would be beneficial because it would give Franklin's
                bumble bee access to more high-quality habitat to combat the threats of
                pathogens and pesticides and to recover from them; (3) competition and
                disease from nonnative honey bees, as well as pesticides from both
                agriculture and siliviculture, are threats that will be unregulated
                without the designation of critical habitat; (4) critical habitat would
                provide concrete objective locations in which to protect the species
                through section 7 of the Act; and (5) critical habitat would inform the
                species recovery plan and where exactly the Service would implement
                recovery actions to ameliorate threats to the species.
                 Our Response: The implementing regulations of the Act upon which
                the August 13, 2019, proposed rule (84 FR 40006) and this final rule
                are based set forth that the factors the Service may consider in
                determining that a critical habitat designation would not be prudent
                include, but are not limited to, whether the species is threatened by
                taking or other human activity, and identification of critical habitat
                can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the species; or
                whether such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to
                the species (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)). We determine that the designation of
                critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species because the
                present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of the
                species' habitat or range (Factor A) is not a threat to the Franklin's
                bumble bee and because we cannot with specificity articulate the
                physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the
                Franklin's bumble bee, or determine whether or not any area would meet
                the definition of critical habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee (see
                discussion under Prudency Determination, below).
                 As mentioned in our response to Comments (3) and (4), no noticeable
                destruction, modification, or curtailment of Franklin's bumble bee
                habitat or range can be identified in areas where the species had been
                previously located, and could not be shown to have affected the
                resiliency of any population of Franklin's bumble bee. None of the
                potential threats to Franklin's bumble bee habitat we assessed appears
                to threaten the viability of the species (USFWS 2018a, pp. 23-41).
                Therefore, we find that because the present or threatened destruction,
                modification, or curtailment of a species' habitat or range is not a
                threat to Franklin's bumble bee, designating critical habitat is not
                beneficial and, therefore, not prudent.
                 Furthermore, regarding section 7 consultation, because of the
                listing of
                [[Page 47234]]
                the species (absent critical habitat), Federal agencies will still be
                required to consult under section 7 of the Act on activities that may
                affect this species in areas where the Franklin's bumble bee is
                reasonably certain to occur. The Federal action agency will be required
                to identify any listed species that could be within the project area of
                any proposed activity, and consult with the Service if that activity is
                likely to adversely affect the species.
                Determination of the Status of Franklin's Bumble Bee
                 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 an endangered species or a
                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
                 We evaluated the past, present, and future threats to the
                Franklin's bumble bee and assessed the cumulative effect of the threats
                under the Act's section 4(a)(1) factors. Our assessment did not find
                habitat loss or modification (Factor A) to be the cause of the decline
                of the Franklin's bumble bee, and we have no information to suggest
                that habitat destruction or modification will increase in intensity in
                the near future. There is no indication that the Franklin's bumble bee
                was at risk of overutilization for commercial, recreational,
                scientific, or educational purposes (Factor B). Known pathogens occur
                within the historical range of the Franklin's bumble bee, and we have
                evidence of several pathogens (Factor C) infecting closely related
                species within that range. Although we do not have direct evidence of
                pathogens playing a role in the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee,
                the disappearance of the Franklin's bumble bee occurred soon after a
                period of introduction of new pathogens. Furthermore, documented
                effects to other closely related species lead many species experts to
                suspect that the effects of pathogens had some connection to the
                decline of the Franklin's bumble bee. We evaluated existing regulatory
                mechanisms (Factor D) and conservation measures and their effects on
                the threats and the status of the Franklin's bumble bee; we found that
                the existing regulatory mechanisms or conservation measures in place do
                not appreciably reduce or ameliorate the existing threats to the
                species, as evidenced by the species' acute and rangewide decline.
                Although we have no direct evidence that pesticide use contributed to
                the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee, confirmed effects to other
                closely related Bombus species suggest that pesticide use (Factor E)
                was likely a factor in the decline of the Franklin's bumble bee.
                Additionally, given the historically small population size (Factor E)
                of the Franklin's bumble bee and its haplodiploid genetic system, it is
                more vulnerable to extirpation than other species, and it is likely the
                genetic system and the rarity of this species contributed to the
                decline of the Franklin's bumble bee (Factor E).
                 The combination of multiple threats is typically more harmful than
                any one acting alone, and it is likely that several of the threats
                mentioned above acted cumulatively and synergistically on the
                Franklin's bumble bee. Pathogens in combination with pesticides, as
                well as pathogens in combination with the effects of small population
                size, may have hastened and amplified the decline of the Franklin's
                bumble bee to a greater degree than any one of the three factors caused
                on its own. Although the ultimate source of the decline is unknown, the
                acute and rangewide decline of the Franklin's bumble bee is
                undisputable.
                 The Act defines an ``endangered species'' as any species that is in
                danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its
                range, and a ``threatened species'' as any species that is likely to
                become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a
                significant portion of its range. We find that, based on the severity
                and immediacy of threats currently affecting the species, the
                Franklin's bumble bee meets the definition of an endangered species.
                The threats of pathogens, pesticides, and small population size are
                ongoing and rangewide; they will continue to act individually and in
                combination to decrease the resiliency, redundancy, and representation
                of the Franklin's bumble bee. The risk of extinction is high because
                the species has not been found since 2006, and the suspected threats to
                the species persist. We find that a threatened species status is not
                appropriate for the Franklin's bumble bee because of the extreme loss
                of abundance of the species, because the threats are occurring
                rangewide and are not localized, and because the threats are ongoing
                and expected to continue into the future. Thus, after assessing the
                best available information, we determine that the Franklin's bumble bee
                is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range.
                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. We have determined that the Franklin's bumble bee is in
                danger of extinction throughout all of its range and accordingly did
                not undertake an analysis of whether there are any significant portions
                of its range. Because Franklin's bumble bee warrants listing as
                endangered throughout all of its range, our determination is consistent
                with the decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. Everson, 2020
                WL 437289 (D.D.C. Jan. 28, 2020), in which the court vacated only the
                aspect of our July 1, 2014, Final Policy on Interpretation of the
                Phrase ``Significant Portion of Its Range'' in the Endangered Species
                Act's Definitions of ``Endangered Species'' and ``Threatened Species''
                (79 FR 37578) that provided the Services do not undertake an analysis
                of significant portions of a species' range if the species warrants
                listing as threatened throughout all of its range.
                Determination of Status
                 Our review of the best available scientific and commercial
                information indicates that the Franklin's bumble bee meets the
                definition of an endangered species. Therefore, we are listing the
                Franklin's bumble bee as an endangered species in accordance with
                sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. Although this species has not
                been observed since 2006, we conclude it is premature at this time to
                determine that the species is extinct absent a more thorough survey
                effort. We recommend expanded survey efforts to help verify the status
                of this species.
                [[Page 47235]]
                Available Conservation Measures
                 Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or
                threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions,
                requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain
                practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and
                conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies; private
                organizations; and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with
                States and other countries and calls for recovery actions to be carried
                out for listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and
                the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part,
                below.
                Recovery Actions
                 The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered
                and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The
                ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these
                listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of
                the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act calls for the Service to develop
                and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and
                threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the
                identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse a
                species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and
                recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a
                point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning
                components of their ecosystems.
                 Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline
                shortly after a species is listed, and preparation of a draft and final
                recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation
                of urgent recovery actions and describes the process we will use to
                develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address
                continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive
                information becomes available. The recovery plan also identifies
                recovery criteria for review of when a species may be ready for
                reclassification from endangered to threatened (``downlisting'') or
                removal from protected status (``delisting''), and methods for
                monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework
                for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates
                of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of
                species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental
                organizations, and stakeholders) are often established to develop
                recovery plans. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery
                plan, and the final recovery plan will be available on our website
                (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our Oregon Fish and Wildlife
                Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
                 Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the
                participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal
                agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses,
                and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat
                restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive
                propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The
                recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on
                Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-
                Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires
                cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and tribal lands.
                 Following publication of this final listing rule, funding for
                recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including
                Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal
                landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations.
                In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the States of Oregon and
                California will be eligible for Federal funds to implement management
                actions that promote the protection or recovery of the Franklin's
                bumble bee. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid
                species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.
                 Please let us know if you are interested in participating in
                recovery efforts for the Franklin's bumble bee. Additionally, we invite
                you to submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes
                available and any information you may have for recovery planning
                purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
                Regulatory Provisions
                 Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their
                actions with respect to any species that is proposed or listed as an
                endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical
                habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this
                interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR
                part 402. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to
                ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not
                likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or
                threatened species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat.
                If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical
                habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation
                with the Service.
                 Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require
                conference or consultation or both include management and any other
                landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by the U.S.
                Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, the National Park
                Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation; technical assistance and
                projects funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural
                Resources Conservation Service; issuance of section 404 Clean Water Act
                (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
                and construction and maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal
                Highway Administration.
                 The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of
                general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to endangered wildlife.
                The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act, codified at 50 CFR
                17.21, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of
                the United States to take (which includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt,
                shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect; or to attempt any of
                these) endangered wildlife within the United States or on the high
                seas. In addition, it is unlawful to import; export; deliver, receive,
                carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the
                course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate
                or foreign commerce any species listed as an endangered species. It is
                also illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any
                such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply
                to employees of the Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service,
                other Federal land management agencies, and State conservation
                agencies.
                 We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities
                involving endangered wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations
                governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22. With regard to
                endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes:
                For scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the
                species, and for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful
                activities. There are also certain statutory exemptions from the
                prohibitions, which are found in sections 9 and 10 of the Act.
                 It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1,
                1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at
                the time a species
                [[Page 47236]]
                is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a
                violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to
                increase public awareness of the effect of a listing on proposed and
                ongoing activities within the range of the listed species. Based on the
                best available information, the following actions are unlikely to
                result in a violation of section 9 of the Act if these activities are
                carried out in accordance with existing regulations and permit
                requirements; this list is not comprehensive:
                 (1) Recreation, specifically skiing at Mt. Ashland, and use of the
                Pacific Crest Trail;
                 (2) Timber sales; and
                 (3) Livestock grazing.
                 Based on the best available information, the following actions may
                potentially result in a violation of section 9 of the Act if they are
                not authorized in accordance with applicable law; this list is not
                comprehensive:
                 (1) Unauthorized handling or collecting of the Franklin's bumble
                bee;
                 (2) Unauthorized release of biological control agents that attack
                any life stage of the Franklin's bumble bee, including the unauthorized
                use of herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals in areas in which the
                Franklin's bumble bee is known to occur (i.e., in the Franklin's bumble
                bee's historical range); and
                 (3) Unauthorized release of nonnative species or native species
                that carry pathogens, diseases, or fungi that are known or suspected to
                adversely affect the Franklin's bumble bee where the species is known
                to occur (i.e., in the Franklin's bumble bee's historical range).
                 Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a
                violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Oregon Fish
                and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
                II. Critical Habitat
                Background
                 Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as:
                 (1) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the
                species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which
                are found those physical or biological features
                 (a) Essential to the conservation of the species, and
                 (b) Which may require special management considerations or
                protection; and
                 (2) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the
                species at the time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas
                are essential for the conservation of the species.
                 Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.02 define ``geographical area
                occupied by the species'' as an area that may generally be delineated
                around species' occurrences, as determined by the Secretary (i.e.,
                range). Such areas may include those areas used throughout all or part
                of the species' life cycle, even if not used on a regular basis (e.g.,
                migratory corridors, seasonal habitats, and habitats used periodically,
                but not solely by vagrant individuals).
                 Conservation, as defined under section 3 of the Act, means to use
                and the use of all methods and procedures that are necessary to bring
                an endangered or threatened species to the point at which the measures
                provided pursuant to the Act are no longer necessary. Such methods and
                procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated
                with scientific resources management such as research, census, law
                enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live
                trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where
                population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise
                relieved, may include regulated taking.
                 Critical habitat receives protection under section 7 of the Act
                through the requirement that Federal agencies ensure, in consultation
                with the Service, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is
                not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of
                critical habitat. The designation of critical habitat does not affect
                land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or
                other conservation area. Such designation does not allow the government
                or public to access private lands. Such designation does not require
                implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by
                non-Federal landowners. Where a landowner requests Federal agency
                funding or authorization for an action that may affect a listed species
                or critical habitat, the Federal agency would be required to consult
                with the Service under section 7(a)(2) of the Act. However, even if the
                Service were to conclude that the proposed activity would result in
                destruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat, the
                Federal action agency and the landowner are not required to abandon the
                proposed activity, or to restore or recover the species; instead, they
                must implement ``reasonable and prudent alternatives'' to avoid
                destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
                 Under the first prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat,
                areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time
                it was listed are included in a critical habitat designation if they
                contain physical or biological features (1) which are essential to the
                conservation of the species and (2) which may require special
                management considerations or protection. For these areas, critical
                habitat designations identify, to the extent known using the best
                scientific and commercial data available, those physical or biological
                features that are essential to the conservation of the species (such as
                space, food, cover, and protected habitat). In identifying those
                physical or biological features within an area, we focus on the
                specific features that support the life-history needs of the species,
                including, but not limited to, water characteristics, soil type,
                geological features, prey, vegetation, symbiotic species, or other
                features. A feature may be a single habitat characteristic, or a more
                complex combination of habitat characteristics. Features may include
                habitat characteristics that support ephemeral or dynamic habitat
                conditions. Features may also be expressed in terms relating to
                principles of conservation biology, such as patch size, distribution
                distances, and connectivity.
                 Under the second prong of the Act's definition of critical habitat,
                we can designate critical habitat in areas outside the geographical
                area occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a
                determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the
                species. We determine whether unoccupied areas are essential for the
                conservation of the species by considering the life-history, status,
                and conservation needs of the species. This is further informed by any
                generalized conservation strategy, criteria, or outline that may have
                been developed for the species to provide a substantive foundation for
                identifying which features and specific areas are essential to the
                conservation of the species and, as a result, to the development of the
                critical habitat designation. For example, an area currently occupied
                by the species but that was not occupied at the time of listing may be
                essential to the conservation of the species and may be included in the
                critical habitat designation.
                 Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on
                the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on
                Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act (published in
                the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)),
                [[Page 47237]]
                the Information Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General
                Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554;
                H.R. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide
                criteria, establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our
                decisions are based on the best scientific data available. They require
                our biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use
                of the best scientific data available, to use primary and original
                sources of information as the basis for recommendations to designate
                critical habitat.
                Prudency Determination
                 Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing
                regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent
                prudent and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical
                habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or
                threatened species.
                 On August 27, 2019, the Service published a final rule (84 FR
                45020) revising the regulations at 50 CFR part 424 for listing species
                and designating critical habitat. However, the revisions apply only to
                relevant rulemakings for which the proposed rule is published after
                September 26, 2019, the effective date of the final rule. Thus, the
                prior version of the regulations at 50 CFR part 424 continues to apply
                to any rulemakings for which a proposed rule was published before
                September 26, 2019, including this final rule for Franklin's bumble
                bee.
                 The prior version of the regulations at 50 CFR part 424 (50 CFR
                424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of critical habitat is not
                prudent when one or both of the following situations exist:
                 (1) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity,
                and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the
                degree of threat to the species, or
                 (2) Such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to
                the species. In determining whether a designation would not be
                beneficial, the factors the Services may consider includes whether the
                present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of a
                species' habitat or range is not a threat to the species.
                 As discussed above in the threats analysis, there is currently no
                imminent threat of take attributed to collection or vandalism
                identified under Factor B for this species, and identification and
                mapping of critical habitat is not expected to initiate any such
                threat. In the absence of finding that the designation of critical
                habitat would increase threats to a species, we next determine whether
                such designation of critical habitat would be beneficial to the
                Franklin's bumble bee. For the reasons discussed below, we have
                determined that designating critical habitat would not be beneficial.
                Designating Habitat Would Not Be Beneficial to the Species
                 The Franklin's bumble bee was widely distributed throughout its
                range and considered flexible with regard to habitat requirements. We
                know that the Franklin's bumble bee needs (1) floral resources for
                nectaring throughout the colony cycle, and (2) relatively protected
                areas for breeding and shelter. In addition, because the best available
                scientific information indicates that the Franklin's bumble bee is a
                generalist forager, its habitat preferences and needs are relatively
                plentiful and widely distributed. While Bombus species in general might
                prefer protected meadows with an abundance of wildflowers, the
                Franklin's bumble bee has been found in a wide array of habitat types,
                from foraging in montane meadows in a remote wilderness area of
                California to nesting in a residential garage in the city limits of
                Medford, Oregon. The species has a broad elevational range from 162 m
                (540 ft) to 2,340 m (7,800 ft); elevation does not appear to limit the
                species' dispersal capabilities.
                 Some general habitat associations of Bombus are known; however, as
                one of the rarest Bombus species, the Franklin's bumble bee is somewhat
                enigmatic and a specific habitat study for the Franklin's bumble bee
                has not been completed. Such a study was initiated in 2006, when the
                Franklin's bumble bee was last seen, but could not continue due to the
                subsequent absence of the species. Therefore, we cannot with
                specificity articulate the physical or biological features essential to
                the conservation of the Franklin's bumble bee, or determine whether or
                not any area would meet the definition of critical habitat for the
                Franklin's bumble bee.
                 Since it was first identified in 1921, the Franklin's bumble bee
                appears to have always been a rare species with a limited range. In
                fact, the species has perhaps the most limited range of any Bombus
                species in the world. Nonetheless, Franklin's bumble bee habitat is not
                known to be limiting, and habitat loss is not a threat to the species.
                With the exception of the inundation of two sites with older historical
                occurrences of Franklin's bumble bee (through the construction of
                Applegate Dam, and a report of soil modification on a portion of the
                Gold Hill site 4 years after the last occurrence of Franklin's bumble
                bee in the area), no noticeable destruction, modification, or
                curtailment of habitat or range can be identified in areas where the
                species had been previously located. No significant destruction or
                modification of Franklin's bumble bee habitat can be attributed to
                natural fire, prescribed fire, agricultural intensification, urban
                development, livestock grazing, or the effects of climate change.
                Additionally, as discussed above, the Franklin's bumble bee has been
                documented using a wide variety of habitats throughout its range.
                Because habitat for the Franklin's bumble bee is not limiting, and
                because the bee is considered to be flexible with regards to its
                habitat, the availability of habitat does not limit the conservation of
                the Franklin's bumble bee now, nor will it in the foreseeable future.
                 In the Service and National Marine Fisheries Service's response to
                comments on the February 11, 2016, final rule (81 FR 7414) revising the
                critical habitat regulations (the regulations in effect at the time the
                Franklin's bumble bee was proposed for listing), the Services expressly
                contemplated a fact pattern where designating critical habitat may not
                be beneficial to the species: ``[I]n some circumstances, a species may
                be listed because of factors other than threats to its habitat or
                range, such as disease, and the species may be a habitat generalist. In
                such a case, on the basis of the existing and revised regulations, it
                is permissible to determine that critical habitat is not beneficial
                and, therefore, not prudent'' (81 FR 7425). This is the fact pattern we
                are presented with in the case of the Franklin's bumble bee. In view of
                the foregoing, we conclude that present or threatened destruction,
                modification, or curtailment of habitat is not a threat to the
                Franklin's bumble bee; rather, disease and other manmade factors are
                likely the primary threat to the species within its habitat. Therefore,
                in accordance with 50 CFR 424.12(a)(1), we determine that critical
                habitat is not beneficial and, therefore, not prudent for the
                Franklin's bumble bee.
                Required Determinations
                National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)
                 We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental
                impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National
                Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be
                prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or
                threatened species under the
                [[Page 47238]]
                Endangered Species 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), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and
                Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the
                Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we 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 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. On July 17, 2017, as part of our status review process, we sent
                out notification letters to 11 Tribes that are in proximity to the
                known historical range of the Franklin's bumble bee (6 Tribes in Oregon
                and 5 Tribes in California). The letter provided the Tribes early
                notification that were conducting a status review for Franklin's bumble
                bee and solicited their input to ensure that we had the best scientific
                data available to inform our subsequent finding on the status. We did
                not receive a response from any of the Tribes.
                References Cited
                 A complete list of references cited in this rule is available on
                the internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-
                2018-0044 and upon request from the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office
                (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
                Authors
                 The primary authors of this rule are the staff members of the Fish
                and Wildlife Service's Species Assessment Team and the Oregon Fish and
                Wildlife Office.
                List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17
                 Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and
                recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.
                Regulation Promulgation
                 Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50
                of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:
                PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS
                0
                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.
                0
                2. Amend Sec. 17.11 in paragraph (h) by adding an entry for ``Bee,
                bumble, Franklin's'' to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
                in alphabetical order under INSECTS to read as follows:
                Sec. 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife.
                * * * * *
                 (h) * * *
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Listing citations and
                 Common name Scientific name Where listed Status applicable rules
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                
                 * * * * * * *
                 Insects
                Bee, bumble, Franklin's......... Bombus franklini.. Wherever found.... E............ 85 FR [Insert Federal
                 Register page where
                 the document begins],
                 8/24/21.
                
                 * * * * * * *
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Martha Williams,
                Principal Deputy Director, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the
                Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
                [FR Doc. 2021-17832 Filed 8-23-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
                

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