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Displaying title 50, up to date as of 9/21/2021. Title 50 was last amended 9/17/2021.

Title 50

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§ 223.203 Anadromous fish.

Available guidance documents cited in the regulatory text are listed in Appendix A to this section.

(a) Prohibitions. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1)) relating to endangered species apply to fish with an intact adipose fin that are part of the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102.

(b) Limits on the prohibitions. The limits to the prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 are described in the following paragraphs:

(1) The exceptions of section 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539) and other exceptions under the Act relating to endangered species, including regulations in part 222 of this chapter implementing such exceptions, also apply to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102.

(2) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to threatened Puget Sound steelhead listed in § 223.102 do not apply to:

(i) Activities specified in an application for a permit for scientific purposes or to enhance the conservation or survival of the species, provided that the application has been received by the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), no later than November 14, 2008. The prohibitions of this section apply to these activities upon the AA's rejection of the application as insufficient, upon issuance or denial of a permit, or June 1, 2009, whichever occurs earliest, or

(ii) Steelhead harvested in tribal or recreational fisheries prior to June 1, 2009, so long as the harvest is authorized by the State of Washington or a tribe with jurisdiction over steelhead harvest. If NMFS does not receive a fishery management plan for Puget Sound steelhead by November 14, 2008, subsequent take by harvest will be subject to the take prohibitions.

(3) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to any employee or designee of NMFS, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, any Federal land management agency, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), or of any other governmental entity that has co-management authority for the listed salmonids, when the employee or designee, acting in the course of his or her official duties, takes a threatened salmonid without a permit if such action is necessary to:

(i) Aid a sick, injured, or stranded salmonid,

(ii) Dispose of a dead salmonid, or

(iii) Salvage a dead salmonid which may be useful for scientific study.

(iv) Each agency acting under this limit on the take prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section is to report to NMFS the numbers of fish handled and their status, on an annual basis. A designee of the listed entities is any individual the Federal or state fishery agency or other co-manager has authorized in writing to perform the listed functions.

(4) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to fishery harvest activities provided that:

(i) Fisheries are managed in accordance with a NMFS-approved Fishery Management and Evaluation Plan (FMEP) and implemented in accordance with a letter of concurrence from NMFS. NMFS will approve an FMEP only if it clearly defines its intended scope and area of impact and sets forth the management objectives and performance indicators for the plan. The plan must adequately address the following criteria:

(A) Define populations within affected listed ESUs, taking into account spatial and temporal distribution, genetic and phenotypic diversity, and other appropriate identifiably unique biological and life history traits. Populations may be aggregated for management purposes when dictated by information scarcity, if consistent with survival and recovery of the listed ESU. In identifying management units, the plan shall describe the reasons for using such units in lieu of population units, describe how the management units are defined, given biological and life history traits, so as to maximize consideration of the important biological diversity contained within the listed ESU, respond to the scale and complexity of the ESU, and help ensure consistent treatment of listed salmonids across a diverse geographic and jurisdictional range.

(B) Utilize the concepts of “viable” and “critical” salmonid population thresholds, consistent with the concepts contained in the technical document entitled “Viable Salmonid Populations (NMFS, 2000b).” The VSP paper provides a framework for identifying the biological requirements of listed salmonids, assessing the effects of management and conservation actions, and ensuring that such actions provide for the survival and recovery of listed species. Proposed management actions must recognize the significant differences in risk associated with viable and critical population threshold states and respond accordingly to minimize the long-term risks to population persistence. Harvest actions impacting populations that are functioning at or above the viable threshold must be designed to maintain the population or management unit at or above that level. For populations shown with a high degree of confidence to be above critical levels but not yet at viable levels, harvest management must not appreciably slow the population's achievement of viable function. Harvest actions impacting populations that are functioning at or below critical threshold must not be allowed to appreciably increase genetic and demographic risks facing the population and must be designed to permit the population's achievement of viable function, unless the plan demonstrates that the likelihood of survival and recovery of the entire ESU in the wild would not be appreciably reduced by greater risks to that individual population.

(C) Set escapement objectives or maximum exploitation rates for each management unit or population based on its status and on a harvest program that assures that those rates or objectives are not exceeded. Maximum exploitation rates must not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU. Management of fisheries where artificially propagated fish predominate must not compromise the management objectives for commingled naturally spawned populations.

(D) Display a biologically based rationale demonstrating that the harvest management strategy will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU in the wild, over the entire period of time the proposed harvest management strategy affects the population, including effects reasonably certain to occur after the proposed actions cease.

(E) Include effective monitoring and evaluation programs to assess compliance, effectiveness, and parameter validation. At a minimum, harvest monitoring programs must collect catch and effort data, information on escapements, and information on biological characteristics, such as age, fecundity, size and sex data, and migration timing.

(F) Provide for evaluating monitoring data and making any revisions of assumptions, management strategies, or objectives that data show are needed.

(G) Provide for effective enforcement and education. Coordination among involved jurisdictions is an important element in ensuring regulatory effectiveness and coverage.

(H) Include restrictions on resident and anadromous species fisheries that minimize any take of listed species, including time, size, gear, and area restrictions.

(I) Be consistent with plans and conditions established within any Federal court proceeding with continuing jurisdiction over tribal harvest allocations.

(ii) The state monitors the amount of take of listed salmonids occurring in its fisheries and provides to NMFS on a regular basis, as defined in NMFS' letter of concurrence for the FMEP, a report summarizing this information, as well as the implementation and effectiveness of the FMEP. The state shall provide NMFS with access to all data and reports prepared concerning the implementation and effectiveness of the FMEP.

(iii) The state confers with NMFS on its fishing regulation changes affecting listed ESUs to ensure consistency with the approved FMEP. Prior to approving a new or amended FMEP, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its availability for public review and comment. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period on the draft FMEP of not less than 30 days.

(iv) NMFS provides written concurrence of the FMEP which specifies the implementation and reporting requirements. NMFS' approval of a plan shall be a written approval by NMFS Southwest or Northwest Regional Administrator, as appropriate. On a regular basis, NMFS will evaluate the effectiveness of the program in protecting and achieving a level of salmonid productivity commensurate with conservation of the listed salmonids. If it is not, NMFS will identify ways in which the program needs to be altered or strengthened. If the responsible agency does not make changes to respond adequately to the new information, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the limit for activities associated with that FMEP. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of not less than 30 days, after which NMFS will make a final determination whether to withdraw the limit so that the prohibitions would then apply to those fishery harvest activities. A template for developing FMEPs is available from NMFS Northwest Region's website (www.nwr.noaa.gov).

(v) [Reserved]

(5) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to activity associated with artificial propagation programs provided that:

(i) A state or Federal Hatchery and Genetics Management Plan (HGMP) has been approved by NMFS as meeting the following criteria:

(A) The HGMP has clearly stated goals, performance objectives, and performance indicators that indicate the purpose of the program, its intended results, and measurements of its performance in meeting those results. Goals shall address whether the program is intended to meet conservation objectives, contribute to the ultimate sustainability of natural spawning populations, and/or intended to augment tribal, recreational, or commercial fisheries. Objectives should enumerate the results desired from the program that will be used to measure the program's success or failure.

(B) The HGMP utilizes the concepts of viable and critical salmonid population threshold, consistent with the concepts contained in the technical document entitled “Viable Salmonid Populations” (NMFS, 2000b). Listed salmonids may be purposefully taken for broodstock purposes only if the donor population is currently at or above the viable threshold and the collection will not impair its function; if the donor population is not currently viable but the sole objective of the current collection program is to enhance the propagation or survival of the listed ESU; or if the donor population is shown with a high degree of confidence to be above critical threshold although not yet functioning at viable levels, and the collection will not appreciably slow the attainment of viable status for that population.

(C) Taking into account health, abundances, and trends in the donor population, broodstock collection programs reflect appropriate priorities. The primary purpose of broodstock collection programs of listed species is to reestablish indigenous salmonid populations for conservation purposes. Such programs include restoration of similar, at-risk populations within the same ESU, and reintroduction of at-risk populations to underseeded habitat. After the species' conservation needs are met and when consistent with survival and recovery of the ESU, broodstock collection programs may be authorized by NMFS such for secondary purposes, as to sustain tribal, recreational, and commercial fisheries.

(D) The HGMP includes protocols to address fish health, broodstock collection, broodstock spawning, rearing and release of juveniles, deposition of hatchery adults, and catastrophic risk management.

(E) The HGMP evaluates, minimizes, and accounts for the propagation program's genetic and ecological effects on natural populations, including disease transfer, competition, predation, and genetic introgression caused by the straying of hatchery fish.

(F) The HGMP describes interrelationships and interdependencies with fisheries management. The combination of artificial propagation programs and harvest management must be designed to provide as many benefits and as few biological risks as possible for the listed species. For programs whose purpose is to sustain fisheries, HGMPs must not compromise the ability of FMEPs or other management plans to conserve listed salmonids.

(G) Adequate artificial propagation facilities exist to properly rear progeny of naturally spawned broodstock, to maintain population health and diversity, and to avoid hatchery-influenced selection or domestication.

(H) Adequate monitoring and evaluation exist to detect and evaluate the success of the hatchery program and any risks potentially impairing the recovery of the listed ESU.

(I) The HGMP provides for evaluating monitoring data and making any revisions of assumptions, management strategies, or objectives that data show are needed;

(J) NMFS provides written concurrence of the HGMP which specifies the implementation and reporting requirements. For Federally operated or funded hatcheries, the ESA section 7 consultation will achieve this purpose.

(K) The HGMP is consistent with plans and conditions set within any Federal court proceeding with continuing jurisdiction over tribal harvest allocations.

(ii) The state monitors the amount of take of listed salmonids occurring in its hatchery program and provides to NMFS on a regular basis a report summarizing this information, and the implementation and effectiveness of the HGMP as defined in NMFS' letter of concurrence. The state shall provide NMFS with access to all data and reports prepared concerning the implementation and effectiveness of the HGMP.

(iii) The state confers with NMFS on a regular basis regarding intended collections of listed broodstock to ensure congruity with the approved HGMP.

(iv) Prior to final approval of an HGMP, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its availability for public review and comment for a period of at least 30 days.

(v) NMFS' approval of a plan shall be a written approval by NMFS Southwest or Northwest Regional Administrator, as appropriate.

(vi) On a regular basis, NMFS will evaluate the effectiveness of the HGMP in protecting and achieving a level of salmonid productivity commensurate with the conservation of the listed salmonids. If the HGMP is not effective, the NMFS will identify to the jurisdiction ways in which the program needs to be altered or strengthened. If the responsible agency does not make changes to respond adequately to the new information, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the limit on activities associated with that program. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days, after which NMFS will make a final determination whether to withdraw the limit so that take prohibitions, likeall other activity not within a limit, would then apply to that program. A template for developing HGMPs is available from NMFS Northwest Region's website (www.nwr.noaa.gov).

(6) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to actions undertaken in compliance with a resource management plan developed jointly by the States of Washington, Oregon and/or Idaho and the Tribes (joint plan) within the continuing jurisdiction of United States v. Washington or United States v. Oregon, the on-going Federal court proceedings to enforce and implement reserved treaty fishing rights, provided that:

(i) The Secretary has determined pursuant to 50 CFR 223.209 and the government-to-government processes therein that implementing and enforcing the joint tribal/state plan will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of affected threatened ESUs.

(ii) The joint plan will be implemented and enforced within the parameters set forth in United States v. Washington or United States v. Oregon.

(iii) In making that determination for a joint plan, the Secretary has taken comment on how any fishery management plan addresses the criteria in § 223.203(b)(4), or on how any hatchery and genetic management plan addresses the criteria in § 223.203(b)(5).

(iv) The Secretary shall publish notice in the Federal Register of any determination whether or not a joint plan, will appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of affected threatened ESUs, together with a discussion of the biological analysis underlying that determination.

(v) On a regular basis, NMFS will evaluate the effectiveness of the joint plan in protecting and achieving a level of salmonid productivity commensurate with conservation of the listed salmonids. If the plan is not effective, then NMFS will identify to the jurisdiction ways in which the joint plan needs to be altered or strengthened. If the responsible agency does not make changes to respond adequately to the new information, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the limit on activities associated with that joint plan. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days, after which NMFS will make a final determination whether to withdraw the limit so that take prohibitions would then apply to that joint plan as to all other activity not within a limit.

(7) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to scientific research activities provided that:

(i) Scientific research activities involving purposeful take is conducted by employees or contractors of the ODFW, WDFW (Agencies), IDFG, or CDFG (Agencies), or as a part of a monitoring and research program overseen by or coordinated with that Agency.

(ii) The Agencies provide for NMFS' review and approval a list of all scientific research activities involving direct take planned for the coming year, including an estimate of the total direct take that is anticipated, a description of the study design, including a justification for taking the species and a description of the techniques to be used, and a point of contact.

(iii) The Agencies annually provide to NMFS the results of scientific research activities directed at threatened salmonids, including a report of the direct take resulting from the studies and a summary of the results of such studies.

(iv) Scientific research activities that may incidentally take threatened salmonids are either conducted by agency personnel, or are in accord with a permit issued by the Agency.

(v) The Agencies provide NMFS annually, for its review and approval, a report listing all scientific research activities it conducts or permits that may incidentally take threatened salmonids during the coming year. Such reports shall also contain the amount of incidental take of threatened salmonids occurring in the previous year's scientific research activities and a summary of the results of such research.

(vi) Electrofishing in any body of water known or suspected to contain threatened salmonids is conducted in accordance with NMFS “Guidelines for Electrofishing Waters Containing Salmonids Listed Under the Endangered Species Act” (NMFS, 2000a).

(vii) NMFS' approval of a research program shall be a written approval by NMFS Northwest or Southwest Regional Administrator.

(8) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to habitat restoration activities, as defined in paragraph (b)(8)(iv) of this section, provided that the activity is part of a watershed conservation plan, and:

(i) The watershed conservation plan has been certified by the State of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or California (State) to be consistent with the state's watershed conservation plan guidelines.

(ii) The State's watershed conservation plan guidelines have been found by NMFS to provide for plans that:

(A) Take into account the potential severity of direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of proposed activities in light of the status of affected species and populations.

(B) Will not reduce the likelihood of either survival or recovery of listed species in the wild.

(C) Ensure that any taking will be incidental.

(D) Minimize and mitigate any adverse impacts.

(E) Provide for effective monitoring and adaptive management.

(F) Use the best available science and technology, including watershed analysis.

(G) Provide for public and scientific review and input.

(H) Include any measures that NMFS determines are necessary or appropriate.

(I) Include provisions that clearly identify those activities that are part of plan implementation.

(J) Control risk to listed species by ensuring funding and implementation of the above plan components.

(iii) NMFS will periodically review state certifications of Watershed Conservation Plans to ensure adherence to approved watershed conservation plan guidelines.

(iv) “Habitat restoration activity” is defined as an activity whose primary purpose is to restore natural aquatic or riparian habitat conditions or processes. “Primary purpose” means the activity would not be undertaken but for its restoration purpose.

(v) Prior to approving watershed conservation plan guidelines under paragraph (b)(8)(ii) of this section, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the proposed guidelines for public review and comment. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period on the draft guidelines of no less than 30 days.

(9) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to the physical diversion of water from a stream or lake, provided that:

(i) NMFS' engineering staff or any resource agency or tribe NMFS designates (authorized officer) has agreed in writing that the diversion facility is screened, maintained, and operated in compliance with Juvenile Fish Screen Criteria, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Region, Revised February 16, 1995, with Addendum of May 9, 1996, or in California with NMFS' Southwest Region “Fish Screening Criteria for Anadromous Salmonids, January 1997” or with any subsequent revision.

(ii) The owner or manager of the diversion allows any NMFS engineer or authorized officer access to the diversion facility for purposes of inspection and determination of continued compliance with the criteria.

(iii) On a case by case basis, NMFS or an Authorized Officer will review and approve a juvenile fish screen design and construction plan and schedule that the water diverter proposes for screen installation. The plan and schedule will describe interim operation measures to avoid take of threatened salmonids. NMFS may require a commitment of compensatory mitigation if implementation of the plan and schedule is terminated prior to completion. If the plan and schedule are not met, or if a schedule modification is made that is not approved by NMFS or Authorized Officer, or if the screen installation deviates from the approved design, the water diversion will be subject to take prohibitions and mitigation.

(iv) This limit on the prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section does not encompass any impacts of reduced flows resulting from the diversion or impacts caused during installation of the diversion device. These impacts are subject to the prohibition on take of listed salmonids.

(10) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to routine road maintenance activities provided that:

(i) The activity results from routine road maintenance activity conducted by ODOT employees or agents that complies with ODOT's Transportation Maintenance Management System Water Quality and Habitat Guide (July, 1999); or by employees or agents of a state, county, city or port that complies with a program substantially similar to that contained in the ODOT Guide that is determined to meet or exceed the protections provided by the ODOT Guide; or by employees or agents of a state, county, city or port that complies with a routine road maintenance program that meets proper functioning habitat conditions as described further in subparagraph (ii) following. NMFS' approval of state, city, county, or port programs that are equivalent to the ODOT program, or of any amendments, shall be a written approval by NMFS Northwest or Southwest Regional Administrator, whichever is appropriate. Any jurisdiction desiring its routine road maintenance activities to be within this limit must first commit in writing to apply management practices that result in protections equivalent to or better than those provided by the ODOT Guide, detailing how it will assure adequate training, tracking, and reporting, and describing in detail any dust abatement practices it requests to be covered.

(ii) NMFS finds the routine road maintenance activities of any state, city, county, or port to be consistent with the conservation of listed salmonids' habitat when it contributes, as does the ODOT Guide, to the attainment and maintenance of properly functioning condition (PFC). NMFS defines PFC as the sustained presence of natural habitat-forming processes that are necessary for the long-term survival of salmonids through the full range of environmental variation. Actions that affect salmonid habitat must not impair properly functioning habitat, appreciably reduce the functioning of already impaired habitat, or retard the long-term progress of impaired habitat toward PFC. Periodically, NMFS will evaluate an approved program for its effectiveness in maintaining and achieving habitat function that provides for conservation of the listed salmonids. Whenever warranted, NMFS will identify to the jurisdiction ways in which the program needs to be altered or strengthened. Changes may be identified if the program is not protecting desired habitat functions, or where even with the habitat characteristics and functions originally targeted, habitat is not supporting population productivity levels needed to conserve the ESU. If any jurisdiction within the limit does not make changes to respond adequately to the new information in the shortest amount of time feasible, but not longer than one year, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the limit so that take prohibitions would then apply to the program as to all other activity not within a limit. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days, after which NMFS will make a final determination whether to subject the activities to the ESA section 9(a)(1) prohibitions.

(iii) Prior to implementing any changes to a program within this limit the jurisdiction provides NMFS a copy of the proposed change for review and approval as within this limit.

(iv) Prior to approving any state, city, county, or port program as within this limit, or approving any substantive change in a program within this limit, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the program or the draft changes for public review and comment. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of not less than 30 days.

(v) Pesticide and herbicide spraying is not included within this limit, even if in accord with the ODOT guidance.

(11) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to activities within the City of Portland, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's (PP&R) Pest Management Program (March 1997), including its Waterways Pest Management Policy updated December 1, 1999, provided that:

(i) Use of only the following chemicals is included within this limit on the take prohibitions: Round Up, Rodeo, Garlon 3A, Surfactant LI-700, Napropamide, Cutrine Plus, and Aquashade.

(ii) Any chemical use is initiated in accord with the priorities and decision processes of the Department's Pest Management Policy, including the Waterways Pest Management Policy, updated December 1, 1999.

(iii) Any chemical use within a 25 ft. (7.5 m) buffer complies with the buffer application constraints contained in PP&R's Waterways Pest Management Policy (update December 1, 1999).

(iv) Prior to implementing any changes to this limit, the PP&R provides NMFS with a copy of the proposed change for review and approval as within this limit.

(v) Prior to approving any substantive change in a program within this limit, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the program or the draft changes for public review and comment. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days.

(vi) NMFS' approval of amendments shall be a written approval by NMFS Northwest Regional Administrator.

(vii) NMFS finds the PP&R Pest Management Program activities to be consistent with the conservation of listed salmonids' habitat by contributing to the attainment and maintenance of properly functioning condition (PFC). NMFS defines PFC as the sustained presence of a watershed's natural habitat-forming processes that are necessary for the long-term survival of salmonids through the full range of environmental variation. Actions that affect salmonid habitat must not impair properly functioning habitat, appreciably reduce the functioning of already impaired habitat, or retard the long-term progress of impaired habitat toward PFC. Periodically, NMFS will evaluate the effectiveness of an approved program in maintaining and achieving habitat function that provides for conservation of the listed salmonids. Whenever warranted, NMFS will identify to the jurisdiction ways in which the program needs to be altered or strengthened. Changes may be identified if the program is not protecting desired habitat functions, or where even with the habitat characteristics and functions originally targeted, habitat is not supporting population productivity levels needed to conserve the ESU. If any jurisdiction within the limit does not make changes to respond adequately to the new information in the shortest amount of time feasible, but not longer than 1 year, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the limit so that take prohibitions would then apply to the program as to all other activity not within a limit. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days, after which NMFS will make a final determination whether to subject the activities to the ESA section 9(a)(1) prohibitions.

(12) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to municipal, residential, commercial, and industrial (MRCI) development (including redevelopment) activities provided that:

(i) Such development occurs pursuant to city, county, or regional government ordinances or plans that NMFS has determined are adequately protective of listed species; or within the jurisdiction of the Metro regional government in Oregon and pursuant to ordinances that Metro has found comply with its Urban Growth Management Functional Plan (Functional Plan) following a determination by NMFS that the Functional Plan is adequately protective. NMFS approval or determinations about any MRCI development ordinances or plans, including the Functional Plan, shall be a written approval by NMFS Northwest or Southwest Regional Administrator, whichever is appropriate. NMFS will apply the following 12 evaluation considerations when reviewing MRCI development ordinances or plans to assess whether they adequately conserve listed salmonids by maintaining and restoring properly functioning habitat conditions:

(A) MRCI development ordinance or plan ensures that development will avoid inappropriate areas such as unstable slopes, wetlands, areas of high habitat value, and similarly constrained sites.

(B) MRCI development ordinance or plan adequately avoids stormwater discharge impacts to water quality and quantity or to the hydrograph of the watershed, including peak and base flows of perennial streams.

(C) MRCI development ordinance or plan provides adequately protective riparian area management requirements to attain or maintain PFC around all rivers, estuaries, streams, lakes, deepwater habitats, and intermittent streams. Compensatory mitigation is provided, where necessary, to offset unavoidable damage to PFC due to MRCI development impacts to riparian management areas.

(D) MRCI development ordinance or plan avoids stream crossings by roads, utilities, and other linear development wherever possible, and, where crossings must be provided, minimize impacts through choice of mode, sizing, and placement.

(E) MRCI development ordinance or plan adequately protects historical stream meander patterns and channel migration zones and avoids hardening of stream banks and shorelines.

(F) MRCI development ordinance or plan adequately protects wetlands and wetland functions, including isolated wetlands.

(G) MRCI development ordinance or plan adequately preserves the hydrologic capacity of permanent and intermittent streams to pass peak flows.

(H) MRCI development ordinance or plan includes adequate provisions for landscaping with native vegetation to reduce need for watering and application of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer.

(I) MRCI development ordinance or plan includes adequate provisions to prevent erosion and sediment run-off during construction.

(J) MRCI development ordinance or plan ensures that water supply demands can be met without impacting flows needed for threatened salmonids either directly or through groundwater withdrawals and that any new water diversions are positioned and screened in a way that prevents injury or death of salmonids.

(K) MRCI development ordinance or plan provides necessary enforcement, funding, reporting, and implementation mechanisms and formal plan evaluations at intervals that do not exceed 5 years.

(L) MRCI development ordinance and plan complies with all other state and Federal environmental and natural resource laws and permits.

(ii) The city, county or regional government provides NMFS with annual reports regarding implementation and effectiveness of the ordinances, including: any water quality monitoring information the jurisdiction has available; aerial photography (or some other graphic display) of each MRCI development or MRCI expansion area at sufficient detail to demonstrate the width and vegetation condition of riparian set-backs; information to demonstrate the success of stormwater management and other conservation measures; and a summary of any flood damage, maintenance problems, or other issues.

(iii) NMFS finds the MRCI development activity to be consistent with the conservation of listed salmonids' habitat when it contributes to the attainment and maintenance of PFC. NMFS defines PFC as the sustained presence of a watershed's habitat-forming processes that are necessary for the long-term survival of salmonids through the full range of environmental variation. Actions that affect salmonid habitat must not impair properly functioning habitat, appreciably reduce the functioning of already impaired habitat, or retard the long-term progress of impaired habitat toward PFC. Periodically, NMFS will evaluate an approved program for its effectiveness in maintaining and achieving habitat function that provides for conservation of the listed salmonids. Whenever warranted, NMFS will identify to the jurisdiction ways in which the program needs to be altered or strengthened. Changes may be identified if the program is not protecting desired habitat functions, or where even with the habitat characteristics and functions originally targeted, habitat is not supporting population productivity levels needed to conserve the ESU. If any jurisdiction within the limit does not make changes to respond adequately to the new information in the shortest amount of time feasible, but not longer than 1 year, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the limit so that take prohibitions would then apply to the program as to all other activity not within a limit. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days, after which NMFS will make a final determination whether to subject the activities to the ESA section 9(a)(1) prohibitions.

(iv) Prior to approving any city, county, or regional government ordinances or plans as within this limit, or approving any substantive change in an ordinance or plan within this limit, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the ordinance or plan or the draft changes for public review and comment. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days.

(13) The prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section relating to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102 do not apply to non-Federal forest management activities conducted in the State of Washington provided that:

(i) The action is in compliance with forest practice regulations adopted and implemented by the Washington Forest Practices Board that NMFS has found are at least as protective of habitat functions as are the regulatory elements of the Forests and Fish Report dated April 29, 1999, and submitted to the Forest Practices Board by a consortium of landowners, tribes, and state and Federal agencies.

(ii) All non-regulatory elements of the Forests and Fish Report are being implemented.

(iii) Actions involving use of herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides are not included within this limit.

(iv) Actions taken under alternative plans are included in this limit provided that the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) finds that the alternate plans protect physical and biological processes at least as well as the state forest practices rules and provided that NMFS, or any resource agency or tribe NMFS designates, has the opportunity to review the plan at every stage of the development and implementation. A plan may be excluded from this limit if, after such review, WDNR determines that the plan is not likely to adequately protect listed salmon.

(v) Prior to determining that regulations adopted by the Forest Practice Board are at least as protective as the elements of the Forests and Fish Report, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the Report and regulations for public review and comment.

(vi) NMFS finds the activities to be consistent with the conservation of listed salmonids' habitat by contributing to the attainment and maintenance of PFC. NMFS defines PFC as the sustained presence of a watershed's natural habitat-forming processes that are necessary for the long-term survival of salmonids through the full range of environmental variation. Actions that affect salmonid habitat must not impair properly functioning habitat, appreciably reduce the functioning of already impaired habitat, or retard the long-term progress of impaired habitat toward PFC. Programs must meet this biological standard in order for NMFS to find they qualify for a habitat-related limit. NMFS uses the best available science to make these determinations. NMFS may review and revise previous findings as new scientific information becomes available. NMFS will evaluate the effectiveness of the program in maintaining and achieving habitat function that provides for conservation of the listed salmonids. If the program is not adequate, NMFS will identify to the jurisdiction ways in which the program needs to be altered or strengthened. Changes may be identified if the program is not protecting desired habitat functions or where even with the habitat characteristics and functions originally targeted, habitat is not supporting population productivity levels needed to conserve the ESU. If Washington does not make changes to respond adequately to the new information, NMFS will publish notification in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the limit on activities associated with the program. Such an announcement will provide for a comment period of no less than 30 days, after which NMFS will make a final determination whether to subject the activities to the ESA section 9(a)(1) take prohibitions.

(vii) NMFS approval of regulations shall be a written approval by NMFS Northwest Regional Administrator.

(c) Affirmative Defense. In connection with any action alleging a violation of the prohibitions of paragraph (a) of this section with respect to the threatened West Coast salmon ESUs and steelhead DPSs (of the genus Oncorhynchus) listed in § 223.102, any person claiming the benefit of any limit listed in paragraph (b) of this section or § 223.204(a) shall have a defense where the person can demonstrate that the limit is applicable and was in force, and that the person fully complied with the limit at the time of the alleged violation. This defense is an affirmative defense that must be raised, pleaded, and proven by the proponent. If proven, this defense will be an absolute defense to liability under section 9(a)(1)(G) of the ESA with respect to the alleged violation.

(d) Severability. The provisions of this section and the various applications thereof are distinct and severable from one another. If any provision or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is stayed or determined to be invalid, such stay or invalidity shall not affect other provisions, or the application of such provisions to other persons or circumstances, which can be given effect without the stayed or invalid provision or application.

Appendix A to § 223.203 - List of Guidance Documents

The following is a list of documents cited in the regulatory text. Copies of these documents may be obtained upon request from the Northwest or Southwest Regional Administrators (see Table 1 in § 600.502 of this title).

1. Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Maintenance Management System Water Quality and Habitat Guide (July, 1999).

2. Guidelines for Electrofishing Waters Containing Salmonids Listed Under the Endangered Species Act.

3. Fish Screening Criteria for Anadromous Salmonids, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Region, 1997.

4. Viable Salmonid Populations and the Recovery of Evolutionarily Significant Units. (June 2000).

[65 FR 42475, July 10, 2000, as amended at 67 FR 1129, Jan. 9, 2002; 67 FR 68725, Nov. 12, 2002; 70 FR 37202, 37203, June 28, 2005; 71 FR 5180, Feb. 1, 2006; 73 FR 7843, Feb. 11, 2008; 73 FR 55455, Sept. 25, 2008; 76 FR 12293, Mar. 7, 2011; 79 FR 20812, Apr. 14, 2014]