50 CFR 226.214 - Critical habitat for Gulf sturgeon.

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§ 226.214 Critical habitat for Gulf sturgeon.
Gulf sturgeon is under the joint jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The FWS will maintain primary responsibility for recovery actions and NMFS will assist in and continue to fund recovery actions pertaining to estuarine and marine habitats. In riverine units, the FWS will be responsible for all consultations regarding Gulf sturgeon and critical habitat. In estuarine units, we will divide responsibility based on the action agency involved. The FWS will consult with the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. NMFS will consult with the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Minerals Management Service and any other Federal agencies not mentioned here explicitly. In marine units, NMFS will be responsible for all consultations regarding Gulf sturgeon and critical habitat. Any Federal projects that extend into the jurisdiction of both the Services will be consulted on by the FWS with internal coordination with NMFS. Each agency will conduct its own intra-agency consultations as necessary.
The primary constituent elements essential for the conservation of Gulf sturgeon are those habitat components that support feeding, resting, and sheltering, reproduction, migration, and physical features necessary for maintaining the natural processes that support these habitat components. The primary constituent elements include: abundant prey items within riverine habitats for larval and juvenile life stages, and within estuarine and marine habitats and substrates for juvenile, subadult, and adult life stages; riverine spawning sites with substrates suitable for egg deposition and development, such as limestone outcrops and cut limestone banks, bedrock, large gravel or cobble beds, marl, soapstone or hard clay; riverine aggregation areas, also referred to as resting, holding, and staging areas, used by adult, subadult, and/or juveniles, generally, but not always, located in holes below normal riverbed depths, believed necessary for minimizing energy expenditures during fresh water residency and possibly for osmoregulatory functions; a flow regime (i.e., the magnitude, frequency, duration, seasonality, and rate-of-change of fresh water discharge over time) necessary for normal behavior, growth, and survival of all life stages in the riverine environment, including migration, breeding site selection, courtship, egg fertilization, resting, and staging; and necessary for maintaining spawning sites in suitable condition for egg attachment, eggs sheltering, resting, and larvae staging; water quality, including temperature, salinity, pH, hardness, turbidity, oxygen content, and other chemical characteristics, necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages; sediment quality, including texture and other chemical characteristics, necessary for normal behavior, growth, and viability of all life stages; and safe and unobstructed migratory pathways necessary for passage within and between riverine, estuarine, and marine habitats (e.g. a river unobstructed by any permanent structure, or a dammed river that still allows for passage).
The river reaches within Units 1 to 7 as critical habitat lie within the ordinary high water line. As defined in 33 CFR 329.11, the ordinary high water line on non-tidal rivers is the line on the shore established by the fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics such as a clear, natural line impressed on the bank; shelving; changes in the character of soil; destruction of terrestrial vegetation; the presence of litter and debris; or other appropriate means that consider the characteristics of the surrounding areas.
The downstream limit of the riverine units is the mouth of each river. The mouth is defined as rkm 0 (rmi 0). Although the interface of fresh and saltwater, referred to as the saltwater wedge, occurs within the lower-most reach of a river, for ease in delineating critical habitat units, we are defining the boundary between the riverine and estuarine units as rkm 0 (rmi 0).
Regulatory jurisdiction in coastal areas extends to the line on the shore reached by the plane of the mean (average) high water (MHW) (33 CFR 329.12(a)(2)). All bays and estuaries within Units 8 to 14, therefore, lie below the MHW lines. Where precise determination of the actual location becomes necessary, it must be established by survey with reference to the available tidal datum, preferably averaged over a period of 18.6 years. Less precise methods, such as observation of the “apparent shoreline” which is determined by reference to physical markings, lines of vegetation, may be used only where an estimate is needed of the line reached by the mean high water.
The term 72 COLREGS is defined as demarcation lines which delineate those waters upon which mariners shall comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 and those waters upon which mariners shall comply with the Inland Navigation Rules (33 CFR 80.01). The waters inside of these lines are Inland Rules waters and the waters outside the lines are COLREGS waters. These lines are defined in 33 CFR part 80, and have been used for identification purposes to delineate boundary lines of the estuarine and marine habitat Units 8, 9, 11, and 12.
Critical habitat does not include existing developed sites such as dams, piers, marinas, bridges, boat ramps, exposed oil and gas pipelines, oil rigs, and similar structures or designated public swimming areas.
Critical habitat units are depicted for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida on the maps below. The textual unit descriptions below are definitive sources for determining the critical habitat boundaries. General location maps by unit are provided for general guidance purposes only, and not as a definitive source for determining critical habitat boundaries.
(a) Unit 1: Pearl River System in St. Tammany and Washington Parishes in Louisiana and Walthall, Hancock, Pearl River, Marion, Lawrence, Simpson, Copiah, Hinds, Rankin, and Pike Counties in Mississippi.
(1) Unit 1 includes the Pearl River main stem from the spillway of the Ross Barnett Dam, Hinds and Rankin Counties, Mississippi, downstream to where the main stem river drainage discharges at its mouth joining Lake Borgne, Little Lake, or The Rigolets in Hancock County, Mississippi, and St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. It includes the main stems of the East Pearl River, West Pearl River, West Middle River, Holmes Bayou, Wilson Slough, downstream to where these main stem river drainages discharge at the mouths of Lake Borgne, Little Lake, or The Rigolets. Unit 1 also includes the Bogue Chitto River main stem, a tributary of the Pearl River, from Mississippi State Highway 570, Pike County, Mississippi, downstream to its confluence with the West Pearl River, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. The lateral extent of Unit 1 is the ordinary high water line on each bank of the associated rivers and shorelines.
(2) Maps of Unit 1 follow:
(b) Unit 2: Pascagoula River System in Forrest, Perry, Greene, George, Jackson, Clarke, Jones, and Wayne Counties, Mississippi.
(1) Unit 2 includes all of the Pascagoula River main stem and its distributaries, portions of the Bouie, Leaf, and Chickasawhay tributaries, and all of the Big Black Creek tributary. It includes the Bouie River main stem beginning on the southern-most road crossing of Interstate 59, Forrest County, Mississippi, downstream to its confluence with the Leaf River, Forrest County, Mississippi. The Leaf River main stem beginning from Mississippi State Highway 588, Jones County, Mississippi, downstream to its confluence with the Chickasawhay River, George County, Mississippi is included. The main stem of the Chickasawhay River from the mouth of Oaky Creek, Clarke County, Mississippi, downstream to its confluence with the Leaf River, George County, Mississippi is included. Unit 2 also includes Big Black Creek main stem from its confluence with Black and Red Creeks, Jackson County, Mississippi, to its confluence with the Pascagoula River, Jackson County, Mississippi. All of the main stem of the Pascagoula River from its confluence with the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers, George County, Mississippi, to the discharge of the East and West Pascagoula Rivers into Pascagoula Bay, Jackson County, Mississippi, is included. The lateral extent of Unit 2 is the ordinary high water line on each bank of the associated rivers and shorelines.
(2) Major shipping channels in this unit are excluded under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
(3) Maps of Unit 2 follow:
(c) Unit 3: Escambia River System in Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties, Florida and Escambia, Conecuh, and Covington Counties, Alabama.
(1) Unit 3 includes the Conecuh River main stem beginning just downstream of the spillway of Point A Dam, Covington County, Alabama, downstream to the Florida State line, where its name changes to the Escambia River, Escambia County, Alabama, and Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Florida. It includes the entire main stem of the Escambia River downstream to its discharge into Escambia Bay and Macky Bay, Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Florida. All of the distributaries of the Escambia River including White River, Little White River, Simpson River, and Dead River, Santa Rosa County, Florida are included. The Sepulga River main stem from Alabama County Road 42, Conecuh and Escambia Counties, Alabama, downstream to its confluence with the Conecuh River, Escambia County, Alabama, is also included. The lateral extent of Unit 3 is the ordinary high water line on each bank of the associated lakes, rivers, and shorelines.
(2) Maps of Unit 3 follow:
(d) Unit 4: Yellow River System in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties, Florida and Covington County, Alabama.
(1) Unit 4 includes the Yellow River main stem from Alabama State Highway 55, Covington County, Alabama, downstream to its discharge at Blackwater Bay, Santa Rosa County, Florida. All Yellow River distributaries (including Weaver River and Skim Lake) discharging into Blackwater Bay are included. The Shoal River main stem, a Yellow River tributary, from Florida Highway 85, Okaloosa County, Florida, to its confluence with the Yellow River, is included. The Blackwater River from its confluence with Big Coldwater Creek, Santa Rosa County, Florida, downstream to its discharge into Blackwater Bay is included. Wright Basin and Cooper Basin, Santa Rosa County, on the Blackwater River are included. The lateral extent of Unit 4 is the ordinary high water line on each bank of the associated lakes, rivers, and shorelines.
(2) Maps of Unit 4 follow:
(e) Unit 5: Choctawhatchee River System in Holmes, Washington, and Walton Counties, Florida and Dale, Coffee, Geneva, and Houston Counties, Alabama.
(1) Unit 5 includes the Choctawhatchee River main stem from its confluence with the west and east fork of the Choctawhatchee River, Dale County, Alabama, downstream to its discharge at Choctawhatchee Bay, Walton County, Florida. The distributaries discharging into Choctawhatchee Bay known as Mitchell River, Indian River, Cypress River, and Bells Leg are included. The Boynton Cutoff, Washington County, Florida, which joins the Choctawhatchee River main stem, and Holmes Creek, Washington County, Florida, are included. The section of Holmes Creek from Boynton Cutoff to the mouth of Holmes Creek, Washington County, Florida, is included. The Pea River main stem, a Choctawhatchee River tributary, from the Elba Dam, Coffee County, Alabama, to its confluence with the Choctawhatchee River, Geneva County, Alabama, is included. The lateral extent of Unit 5 is the ordinary high water line on each bank of the associated rivers and shorelines.
(2) Maps of Unit 5 follow:
(f) Unit 6: Apalachicola River System in Franklin, Gulf, Liberty, Calhoun, Jackson, and Gadsen Counties, Florida.
(1) Unit 6 includes the Apalachicola River mainstem, beginning from the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam, Gadsden and Jackson Counties, Florida, downstream to its discharge at East Bay or Apalachicola Bay, Franklin County, Florida. All Apalachicola River distributaries, including the East River, Little St. Marks River, St. Marks River, Franklin County, Florida, to their discharge into East Bay and/or Apalachicola Bay are included. The entire main stem of the Brothers River, Franklin and Gulf Counties, Florida, a tributary of the Apalachicola River, is included. The lateral extent of Unit 6 is the ordinary high water line on each bank of the associated rivers and shorelines.
(2) Maps of Unit 6 follow:
(g) Unit 7: Suwannee River System in Hamilton, Suwannee, Madison, Lafayette, Gilchrist, Levy, Dixie, and Columbia Counties, Florida.
(1) Unit 7 includes the Suwannee River main stem, beginning from its confluence with Long Branch Creek, Hamilton County, Florida, downstream to the mouth of the Suwannee River. It includes all the Suwannee River distributaries, including the East Pass, West Pass, Wadley Pass, and Alligator Pass, Dixie and Levy Counties, Florida, to their discharge into the Suwannee Sound or the Gulf of Mexico. The Withlacoochee River main stem from Florida State Road 6, Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, to its confluence with the Suwannee River is included. The lateral extent of Unit 7 is the ordinary high water line on each bank of the associated rivers and shorelines.
(2) Maps of Unit 7 follow:
(h) Unit 8: Lake Pontchartrain, Lake St. Catherine, The Rigolets, Little Lake, Lake Borgne, and Mississippi Sound in Jefferson, Orleans, St. Tammany, and St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, Hancock, Jackson, and Harrison Counties in Mississippi, and in Mobile County, Alabama.
(1) Unit 8 encompasses Lake Pontchartrain east of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, all of Little Lake, The Rigolets, Lake St. Catherine, Lake Borgne, including Heron Bay, and the Mississippi Sound. Critical habitat follows the shorelines around the perimeters of each included lake. The Mississippi Sound includes adjacent open bays including Pascagoula Bay, Point aux Chenes Bay, Grand Bay, Sandy Bay, and barrier island passes, including Ship Island Pass, Dog Keys Pass, Horn Island Pass, and Petit Bois Pass. The northern boundary of the Mississippi Sound is the shorelines of the mainland between Heron Bay Point, MS and Point aux Pins, AL. Designated critical habitat excludes St. Louis Bay, north of the railroad bridge across its mouth; Biloxi Bay, north of the U.S. Highway 90 bridge; and Back Bay of Biloxi. The southern boundary follows along the broken shoreline of Lake Borgne created by low swampy islands from Malheureux Point to Isle au Pitre. From the northeast point of Isle au Pitre, the boundary continues in a straight north-northeast line to the point 1 nm (1.9 km) seaward of the western most extremity of Cat Island (30°13″N, 89°10″W). The southern boundary continues 1 nm (1.9 km) offshore of the barrier islands and offshore of the 72 COLREGS lines at barrier island passes (defined at 33 CFR 80.815 (c)), (d) and (e) to the eastern boundary. Between Cat Island and Ship Island there is no 72 COLREGS line. We therefore, have defined that section of the southern boundary as 1 nm (1.9 km) offshore of a straight line drawn from the southern tip of Cat Island to the western tip of Ship Island. The eastern boundary is the line of longitude 88°18.8″W from its intersection with the shore (Point aux Pins) to its intersection with the southern boundary. The lateral extent of Unit 8 is the MHW line on each shoreline of the included water bodies or the entrance to rivers, bayous, and creeks.
(2) Major shipping channels in this unit, as identified on standard navigation charts and marked by buoys, are excluded under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
(3) Maps of Unit 8 follow:
(i) Unit 9: Pensacola Bay System in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Florida.
(1) Unit 9 includes Pensacola Bay and its adjacent main bays and coves. These include Big Lagoon, Escambia Bay, East Bay, Blackwater Bay, Bayou Grande, Macky Bay, Saultsmar Cove, Bass Hole Cove, and Catfish Basin. All other bays, bayous, creeks, and rivers are excluded at their mouths. The western boundary is the Florida State Highway 292 Bridge crossing Big Lagoon to Perdido Key. The southern boundary is the 72 COLREGS line between Perdido Key and Santa Rosa Island (defined at 33 CFR 80.810(g)). The eastern boundary is the Florida State Highway 399 Bridge at Gulf Breeze, FL. The lateral extent of Unit 9 is the MHW line on each included bay's shoreline.
(2) Major shipping channels in this unit, as identified on standard navigation charts and marked by buoys, are excluded under section 4(b)(2) of the Act.
(3) A Map of Unit 9 follows:
(j) Unit 10: Santa Rosa Sound in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties, Florida.
(1) Unit 10 includes the Santa Rosa Sound, bounded on the west by the Florida State Highway 399 bridge in Gulf Breeze, FL. The eastern boundary is the U.S. Highway 98 bridge in Fort Walton Beach, FL. The northern and southern boundaries of Unit 10 are formed by the shorelines to the MHW line or by the entrance to rivers, bayous, and creeks.
(2) A Map of Unit 10 follows:
(k) Unit 11: Florida Nearshore Gulf of Mexico Unit in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf Counties, Florida.
(1) Unit 11 includes a portion of the Gulf of Mexico as defined by the following boundaries. The western boundary is the line of longitude 87°20.0′W (approximately 1 nm (1.9 km) west of Pensacola Pass) from its intersection with the shore to its intersection with the southern boundary. The northern boundary is the MHW of the mainland shoreline and the 72 COLREGS lines at passes as defined at 30 CFR 80.810(a-g). The southern boundary is 1 nm (1.9 km) offshore of the northern boundary. The eastern boundary is the line of longitude 85°17.0′W from its intersection with the shore (near Money Bayou between Cape San Blas and Indian Peninsula) to its intersection with the southern boundary.
(2) A Map of Unit 11 follows:
(l) Unit 12: Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, Florida.
(1) Unit 12 includes the main body of Choctawhatchee Bay, Hogtown Bayou, Jolly Bay, Bunker Cove, and Grassy Cove. All other bayous, creeks, rivers are excluded at their mouths/entrances. The western boundary is the U.S. Highway 98 bridge at Fort Walton Beach, FL. The southern boundary is the 72 COLREGS line across East (Destin) Pass as defined at 33 CFR 80.810(f). The lateral extent of Unit 12 is the MHW line on each shoreline of the included water bodies.
(2) A Map of Unit 12 follows:
(m) Unit 13: Apalachicola Bay in Gulf and Franklin County, Florida.
(1) Unit 13 includes the main body of Apalachicola Bay and its adjacent sounds, bays, and the nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These consist of St. Vincent Sound, including Indian Lagoon; Apalachicola Bay including Horseshoe Cove and All Tides Cove; East Bay including Little Bay and Big Bay; and St George Sound, including Rattlesnake Cove and East Cove. Barrier Island passes (Indian Pass, West Pass, and East Pass) are also included. Sike's cut is excluded from the lighted buoys on the Gulf of Mexico side to the day boards on the bay side. The southern boundary includes water extending into the Gulf of Mexico 1 nm (1.9 km) from the MHW line of the barrier islands and from 72 COLREGS lines between the barrier islands (defined at 33 CFR 80.805(e-h)). The western boundary is the line of longitude 85°17.0′W from its intersection with the shore (near Money Bayou between Cape San Blas and Indian Peninsula) to its intersection with the southern boundary. The eastern boundary is formed by a straight line drawn from the shoreline of Lanark Village at 29°53.1′N, 84°35.0′W to a point that is 1 nm (1.9 km) offshore from the northeastern extremity of Dog Island at 29°49.6′N, 84°33.2′W. The lateral extent of Unit 13 is the MHW line on each shoreline of the included water bodies or the entrance of excluded rivers, bayous, and creeks.
(2) A Map of Unit 13 follows:
(n) Unit 14: Suwannee Sound in Dixie and Levy Counties, Florida.
(1) Unit 14 includes Suwannee Sound and a portion of adjacent Gulf of Mexico waters extending 9 nm from shore (16.7 km) out to the State territorial water boundary. Its northern boundary is formed by a straight line from the northern tip of Big Pine Island (at approximately 29°23′N, 83°12′W) to the Federal-State boundary at 29°17′N, 83°21′W. The southern boundary is formed by a straight line from the southern tip of Richards Island (at approximately 83°04′W, 29°11′N) to the Federal-State boundary at 83°15′W, 29°04′N. The lateral extent of Unit 14 is the MHW line along the shorelines and the mouths of the Suwannee River (East and West Pass), its distributaries, and other rivers, creeks, or water bodies.
(2) A Map of Unit 14 follows:
[68 FR 13454, Mar. 19, 2003]

Title 50 published on 2014-10-01

The following are only the Rules published in the Federal Register after the published date of Title 50.

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  • 2014-11-17; vol. 79 # 221 - Monday, November 17, 2014
    1. 79 FR 68371 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Technical Corrections for the Hawaiian Monk Seal
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      DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      Direct final rule.
      This rule is effective January 16, 2015 without further action, unless significant adverse comment is received by December 17, 2014.
      50 CFR Parts 224 and 226

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United States Code

Title 50 published on 2014-10-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 50 CFR 226 after this date.

  • 2014-12-09; vol. 79 # 236 - Tuesday, December 9, 2014
    1. 79 FR 73010 - Endangered and Threatened Species; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Arctic Ringed Seal
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      DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      Proposed rule; withdrawal and reproposal.
      As of December 9, 2014, the proposed rule published December 3, 2014 (79 FR 17174), is withdrawn. Comments on this proposed rule must be received by March 9, 2015. Four public hearings on the proposed rule will be held in Alaska (Anchorage, Barrow, Kotzebue, and Nome). The dates and times of these hearings will be provided in a subsequent Federal Register notice.
      50 CFR Part 226