[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 1 (Monday, January 3, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 93-32053]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: January 3, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AC17

 

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Endangered Status for Three Puerto Rican Plants

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Service proposes to determine Mitracarpus maxwelliae, 
Mitracarpus polycladus, and Eugenia woodburyana to be endangered 
species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as 
amended. M. maxwelliae and E. woodburyana are endemic to Puerto Rico. 
M. polycladus has been reported from only one other island, Saba, in 
the Lesser Antilles. Both species of Mitracarpus are small shrubs that 
are each limited in distribution to one area in Guanica, located in 
southwestern Puerto Rico. E. woodburyana is known only from 
approximately 45 individuals at three locations in southwestern Puerto 
Rico. These species are variously threatened by road construction, 
recreational activities, wildfires, and land clearing associated with 
development for agriculture and other purposes. This proposal, if made 
final, would provide M. maxwelliae, M. polycladus and E. woodburyana 
with the Federal protection and recovery provisions afforded by the Act 
for listed species.

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by March 
4, 1994. Public hearing requests must be received by February 17, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials concerning this proposal should be 
sent to the Field Supervisor, Caribbean Field Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 491, Boqueron, Puerto Rico 00622. Comments 
and materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at this office, and at the 
Service's Southeast Regional Office, suite 1282, 75 Spring Street, SW., 
Atlanta, Georgia 30303.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Susan Silander at the Caribbean 
Field Office address (809/851-7297) or Mr. Dave Flemming at the Atlanta 
Regional Office address (404/331-3580).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Mitracarpus maxwelliae was discovered on March 8, 1925, by 
Nathaniel L. Britton on a limestone hill in the municipality of 
Guanica, Puerto Rico. The site was later rediscovered by Alain Liogier 
in 1982 and again by George R. Proctor and Miguel Canals in 1987. The 
species has never been found at any other location but the type 
locality. At this locality, it is found along an unpaved road, growing 
on dry exposed gravel. Approximately 1,443 plants, including mature 
flowering individuals and seedlings, were counted within an area of 
about 7,500 square meters (Proctor 1991a).
    Mitracarpus maxwelliae is a low, densely-branching, moundlike shrub 
that may reach approximately 20 centimeters in height. The somewhat 
woody branches are striate and sharply 4-angled. The leaves are 
opposite, sessile, linear or linear-lanceolate, densely scabrous, and 
from 1 to 3 centimeters long and 2 to 5 millimeters wide. The flower 
heads are terminal, dense, sub-globose, and from .8 to 1.3 centimeters 
in diameter. The corolla is white, narrowly funnelform, minutely 
glandular-papillose, 5 to 6 millimeters long. The capsule is about 1.5 
millimeter in diameter, opening by a transverse circular split at about 
the middle. The seeds are ellipsoid, brownish-black, and 1.2 
millimeters long and .8 millimeter wide.
    Mitracarpus polycladus was first discovered growing on coastal 
rocks near Cana Gorda, Guanica, Puerto Rico, in 1886 by Paul Sintenis. 
It was also located on the island of Saba in the lesser Antilles by the 
Dutch botanist Boldingh. Today it is still known only from these two 
locations, where it grows in crevices and soil pockets of coastal rocks 
in arid areas. Exact numbers of individuals have been difficult to 
estimate due to extreme drought conditions in recent years (Proctor 
1991b).
    Mitracarpus polycladus is a suffrutescent perennial. It is branched 
near the base, and the erect or spreading stems may reach up to 45 
centimeters in height. The branches are 4-angled and glabrous. Leaves 
are opposite, linear to linear-lanceolate, 2 to 4.5 centimeters long, 
.3 to .5 centimeters wide, glabrous and often with an inrolled margin 
and decurrent base. The inflorescence is terminal and capitate, 8 to 13 
millimeters in diameter, many flowered and subtended by 3 bract-like 
leaves. The corolla is white, about 5 millimeters long, with ovate 
leaves. The seed capsule is 1.5 millimeter in diameter, splitting open 
transversely below the middle, and contains black seeds.
    Eugenia woodburyana, a small evergreen tree, is endemic to Puerto 
Rico and currently known from only the Sierra Bermeja in the 
municipalities of Cabo Rojo and Lajas and from the Guanica Commonwealth 
Forest in Guanica, all in southwestern Puerto Rico. An additional 
individual has been reported from the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife 
Refuge, in Cabo Rojo, adjacent to the Sierra Bermeja. Approximately 45 
individuals are known from these three locations. The species was only 
recently discovered and described by Alain Liogier (Liogier 1980).
    Eugenia woodburyana may reach 6 meters in height. The leaves are 
opposite, obovate, pilose on both sides, glandular-punctate below, and 
from 1.5 to 2 centimeters long and 1 to 1.5 centimeters wide. The 
inflorescence is axillary, 2 to 5 flowered and with a peduncle 1 to 3 
millimeters long. The calyx is 4-lobed and the petals are white, 4 
millimeters long and 3.5 millimeters wide. The striking fruit is red 
upon maturity, 8-winged and 2 centimeters in diameter.
    Mitracarpus maxwelliae and M. polycladus were recommended for 
Federal listing in a report prepared by the Smithsonian Institution as 
directed by section 12 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The 
report was presented to Congress in 1975 as House Document No. 94-51. 
The species were subsequently included among the plants being 
considered as endangered or threatened by the Service, as published in 
the Federal Register notice of review dated December 15, 1980 (45 FR 
82480); the November 28, 1983 update (48 FR 53680), the revised notice 
of September 27, 1985 (50 FR 39526), and the February 21, 1990 (55 FR 
6184) notice of review. In the February 21, 1990, notice, M. maxwelliae 
was designated as a category 1 species (a species for which the Service 
has substantial information supporting the appropriateness of proposing 
to list them as endangered or threatened) and M. polycladus as a 
category 2 species (a taxon for which there is evidence of 
vulnerability, but for which there was not enough data to support 
listing). Eugenia woodburyana was included as a category 2 candidate 
for listing in the September 30,1993, plant notice of review. It has 
been included in the Center for Plant Conservation's Report on Rare 
Plants in Puerto Rico (Center for Plant Conservation 1992) as a taxon 
that may become extinct within the next 10 years. All three species are 
considered to be critical plants by the Natural Heritage Program of the 
Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources (Department of Natural 
Resources 1993).
    Based on status survey reports completed in 1991, and in 
conjunction with other recent field work, the Service recently 
reclassified Mitracarpus polycladus and Eugenia woodburyana as category 
1 candidates.
    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, as amended in 1982, requires the 
Secretary to make findings on certain pending petitions within 12 
months of their receipt. Section 2(b)(1) of the 1982 Amendments further 
requires that all petitions pending on October 13, 1982, be treated as 
having been newly submitted on that date. This was the case for 
Mitracarpus maxwelliae and M. polycladus, because the Service had 
accepted the 1975 Smithsonian report as a petition. In each October 
from 1983 through 1992, the Service has found that the petitioned 
listing of these species was warranted but precluded by other listing 
actions of a higher priority, and that additional data on vulnerability 
and threats were still being gathered. This proposed rule constitutes 
the final 1-year finding for these two species in accordance with 
section 4(b)(3)(B)(ii) of the Act.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4(a)(1) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) and regulations (50 CFR part 424) promulgated to implement the 
listing provisions of the Act set forth the procedures for adding 
species to the Federal lists. A species may be determined to be 
endangered or threatened due to one or more of the five factors 
described in section 4(a)(1). These factors and their application to 
Mitracarpus maxwelliae Britton & Wilson, M. polycladus Urban and 
Eugenia woodburyana Alain are as follows:

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

    In the Sierra Bermeja, Eugenia woodburyana is found on privately 
owned land subject to intense pressure for agricultural, rural and 
tourist development. The land is currently being cleared for grazing by 
cattle and goats. Adjacent land is being subdivided for sale in small 
farms, some destined for tourist and urban development. All three 
species are also found within the Guanica Commonwealth Forest; however, 
Mitracarpus maxwelliae and M. polycladus are found along infrequently 
used roadways where they may be adversely impacted in the future. Any 
road improvement, widening, or increase in traffic along these roads 
would result in the loss of a significant portion of the only known 
populations. The sites of these two species are near preferred 
recreational areas, heavily utilized during the summer months.

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

    Taking for these purposes has not been a documented factor in the 
decline of these species.

C. Disease or Predation

    Disease and predation have not been documented as factors in the 
decline of these species.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has adopted a regulation that 
recognizes and provides protection for certain Commonwealth listed 
species. However, Mitracarpus maxwelliae, Mitracarpus polycladus and 
Eugenia woodburyana are not yet on the Commonwealth list. Federal 
listing would provide immediate protection and, if the species are 
ultimately placed on the Commonwealth list, enhance their protection 
and possibilities for funding needed research.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    One of the most important factors affecting the continued survival 
of these species is their limited distribution. Because so few 
individuals are known to occur in a limited area, the risk of 
extinction is extremely high. Wildfires are a frequent occurrence in 
this extremely dry portion of southwestern Puerto Rico, particularly in 
the coastal roadside areas of Guanica where Mitracarpus maxwelliae and 
Mitracarpus polycladus are found.
    The Service has carefully assessed the best scientific and 
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by these species in determining to propose this 
rule. Based on this evaluation, the preferred action is to list 
Mitracarpus maxwelliae, M. polycladus and Eugenia woodburyana as 
endangered. M. maxwelliae and M. polycladus are known from only one 
location in the Guanica area of southwestern Puerto Rico. In this area 
they are threatened by road construction, recreational activities and 
wildfires. E. woodburyana is known from only approximately 45 
individuals at three locations in southwestern Puerto Rico. 
Deforestation for rural, agricultural, and tourist development are 
imminent threats to the survival of the species. Therefore, endangered 
rather than threatened status seems an accurate assessment of the 
species' condition. The reasons for not proposing critical habitat for 
these species are discussed below in the ``Critical Habitat'' section.

Critical Habitat

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, requires that, to the 
maximum extent prudent and determinable, the Secretary propose critical 
habitat at the time the species is proposed to be endangered or 
threatened. Title 50, part 424 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
Sec. 424.12(1) states that designation of critical habitat is not 
prudent when one or both of the following situations exist: (i) The 
species is threatened by taking or other human activity, and 
identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the 
degree of such threat to the species, or (ii) Such designation of 
critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species. Both 
situations apply to Mitracarpus maxwelliae, Mitracarpus polycladus and 
Eugenia woodburyana.
    Critical habitat would not be beneficial in terms of adding 
additional protection for the species under section 7 of the Act. 
Regulations promulgated for the implementation of section 7 provide for 
both a ``jeopardy'' standard and a ``destruction or adverse 
modification'' of critical habitat standard. Because of the highly 
limited distribution of these species and their precarious status, any 
Federal action that would destroy or have any significant adverse 
affect on their habitat would likely result in a jeopardy biological 
opinion under section 7. Under these conditions, no additional benefits 
would accrue from designation of critical habitat that would not be 
available through listing alone.
    The Service also finds that designation of critical habitat is not 
prudent for these species due to the potential for taking. The number 
of individuals of Mitracarpus maxwelliae, Mitracarpus polycladus and 
Eugenia woodburyana is sufficiently small that vandalism and collection 
could seriously affect the survival of the species. Publication of 
critical habitat descriptions and maps in the Federal Register would 
increase the likelihood of such activities. These species are not 
protected by Commonwealth law and, since they do not occur on Federal 
lands, would receive no protection from taking under the Endangered 
Species Act. The Service believes that Federal involvement in the areas 
where these plants occur can be identified without the designation of 
critical habitat. All involved parties and landowners have been 
notified of the location and importance of protecting these species' 
habitat. Protection of these species' habitat will also be addressed 
through the recovery process and through the section 7 jeopardy 
standard.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act include recognition, 
recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions 
against certain practices. Recognition through listing encourages and 
results in conservation actions by Federal, Commonwealth, and private 
agencies, groups and individuals. The Endangered Species Act provides 
for possible land acquisition and cooperation with the Commonwealth, 
and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed 
species. Such actions are initiated by the Service following listing. 
The protection required of Federal agencies and the prohibitions 
against certain activities involving listed plants are discussed, in 
part, below.
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, requires Federal agencies to 
evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is proposed or 
listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical 
habitat, if any is being designated. Regulations implementing this 
interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR 
part 402. Section 7(a)(4) requires Federal agencies to confer 
informally with the Service on any action that is likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of a proposed species or result in destruction 
or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is 
subsequently listed, section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to 
ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of such a species or to 
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 formal consultation with the Service.
    The only currently known Federal involvement is through the 
occurrence of Eugenia woodburyana on the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife 
Refuge. Other Federal involvement may occur in the future through the 
funding of housing (Farmer's Home Administration or Housing and Urban 
Development) or funding utilized for the management of the Guanica 
Commonwealth Forest (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service).
    The Act and its implementing regulations found at 50 CFR 17.61, 
17.62, and 17.63 set forth a series of general prohibitions and 
exceptions that apply to all endangered plants. All trade prohibitions 
of section 9(a)(2) of the Act, implemented by 50 CFR 17.61, apply. 
These prohibitions, in part, make it illegal for any person subject to 
the jurisdiction of the United States to import or export any 
endangered plant, transport it in interstate or foreign commerce in the 
course of commercial activity, sell or offer it for sale in interstate 
or foreign commerce, or remove it from areas under Federal jurisdiction 
and reduce it to possession. In addition, for endangered plants, the 
1988 amendments (Pub. L. 100-478) to the Act prohibit the malicious 
damage or destruction on Federal lands and the removal, cutting, 
digging up, or damaging or destroying of endangered plants in knowing 
violation of any Commonwealth law or regulation, including Commonwealth 
criminal trespass law. Certain exceptions can apply to agents of the 
Service and Commonwealth conservation agencies.
    The Act and 50 CFR 17.62 and 17.63 also provide for the issuance of 
permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving 
endangered species under certain circumstances. It is anticipated that 
few trade permits for these three species will ever be sought or 
issued, since the species are not known to be in cultivation and are 
uncommon in the wild. Requests for copies of the regulations on listed 
plants and inquiries regarding them may be addressed to the Office of 
Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, room 432, Arlington, Virginia 22203 (703/358-2104).

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service intends that any final action resulting from this 
proposal will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, 
any comments or suggestions from the public, other concerned 
governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other 
interested party concerning any aspect of this proposed rule are hereby 
solicited. Comments particularly are sought concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to Mitracarpus maxwelliae, Mitracarpus 
polycladus and Eugenia woodburyana;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of these three 
species, and the reasons why any habitat should or should not be 
determined to be critical habitat as provided by section 4 of the Act;
    (3) Additional information concerning the range and distribution of 
these species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject areas and their 
possible impacts on these three species.
    Final promulgation of the regulation on Mitracarpus maxwelliae, 
Mitracarpus polycladus and Eugenia woodburyana will take into 
consideration the comments and any additional information received by 
the Service, and such communications may lead to the adoption of a 
final regulation that differs from this proposal.
    The Endangered Species Act provides for a public hearing on this 
proposal, if requested. Requests must be filed within 45 days of the 
proposal. Such requests must be made in writing and addressed to the 
Field Supervisor, Caribbean Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, P.O. Box 491, Boqueron, Puerto Rico 00622.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that an Environmental 
Assessment, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in connection 
with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended. A notice outlining the Service's 
reasons for this determination was published in the Federal Register on 
October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

Center for Plant Conservation. 1992. Report on the rare plants of 
Puerto Rico. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri.
Department of Natural Resources. 1993. Natural Heritage Program 
status information on Mitracarpus maxwelliae, Mitracarpus polycladus 
and Eugenia woodburyana. San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Liogier, Alain H. 1980. Novitates Antillanae. VIII. Phytologia 
47(3):167-198.
Proctor, G. R. 1991a. Status report on Mitracarpus maxwelliae 
Britton & Wilson. In Publicacion Cientifica Miscelanea No. 2, 
Departamento de Recursos Naturales de Puerto Rico. 196 pp.
Proctor, G. R. 1991b. Status report on Mitracarpus polycladus Urban. 
In Publicacion Cientifica Miscelanea No. 2, Departamento de Recursos 
Naturales de Puerto Rico. 196 pp.

Author

    The primary author of this proposed rule is Ms. Susan Silander, 
Caribbean Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 491, 
Boqueron, Puerto Rico 00622 (809/851-7297).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, the Service hereby proposes to amend part 17, 
subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
as set forth below:

PART 17--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

    2. Sec. 17.12(h) is amended by adding the following, in 
alphabetical order, under Myrtaceae and Rubiaceae, to the list of 
Endangered and Threatened Plants to read as follows:


Sec. 17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

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              Species                                                                                           
-----------------------------------  Historic range     Status      When listed      Critical     Special rules 
 Scientific name     Common name                                                      habitat                   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                
                                                  * * * * * * *                                                 
Myrtaceae--Myrtl                                                                                                
 e family:                                                                                                      
    Eugenia       None............  U.S.A. (PR).....  E           ..............              NA              NA
     woodburyana.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                
                                                  * * * * * * *                                                 
Rubiaceae--Coffe                                                                                                
 e family:                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                
                                                  * * * * * * *                                                 
    Mitracarpus   None............  U.S.A. (PR).....  E           ..............              NA              NA
     maxwelliae.                                                                                                
    Mitracarpus   None............  U.S.A. (PR).....  E           ..............              NA              NA
     polycladus.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                
                                                 * * * * * * *                                                  
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    Dated: November 22, 1993.
Richard N. Smith,
Acting Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 93-32053 Filed 12-30-93; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P