Draft Recovery Plan for Four Subspecies of Mazama Pocket Gopher

Four subspecies of Mazama pocket gopher (Roy Prairie pocket gopher [RPPG], Thomomys mazama glacialis; Olympia pocket gopher [OPG], T. m. pugetensis; Tenino pocket gopher [TPG], T. m. tumuli; and Yelm pocket gopher [YPG], T. m. yelmensis) found in Thurston and Pierce Counties, Washington, were listed in 2014 as threatened throughout their ranges under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S. C. 1531 et seq.) (Act) (79 FR 19760; USFWS 2014a, p. 19794). At the same time, a separate rule addressing these four subspecies under section 4(d) of the Act was promulgated when the subspecies were listed (79 FR 19760; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 2014a, p. 19790). This 4(d) rule exempts take for certain activities that promote the maintenance of open habitat or restoration of habitat conditions necessary for the conservation of the RPPG, OPG, TPG and YPG and/or promote responsible land uses and conservation efforts. In particular, these include general activities conducted on agricultural and ranching lands, regular maintenance activities at civilian airports, control of noxious weeds and invasive plants, maintenance of roadside rights-of-way, and limited activities on private landowner parcels. We believe that the 4(d) rule promotes private lands partnerships critical to the recovery of the four subspecies. Critical habitat was designated for the OPG, TPG, and YPG (79 FR 19712; USFWS 2014b, entire). All four subspecies have a recovery priority number of 6C (USFWS 2016, pp. 72-73), indicating each subspecies has a high degree of threat and a low potential for recovery, and is in conflict with construction or other development projects or other forms of economic activity (48 FR 43098; USFWS 1983, p. 43104)