[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 241 (Tuesday, December 16, 1997)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65783-65787]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-32738]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE48


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Endangered Status for Catesbaea Melanocarpa

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Service proposes to determine Catesbaea melanocarpa (no 
common name) to be an endangered species pursuant to the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Catesbaea melanocarpa is known 
from Puerto Rico, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbuda, 
Antigua, and Guadeloupe. In Puerto Rico, it is currently known from 
only one location in Cabo Rojo, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is 
known from one location near Christiansted, St. Croix. Both populations 
are located on privately owned land subject to intense pressure for 
development for residential, tourism and industrial purposes. This 
proposal, if made final, would implement the Federal protection and 
recovery provisions afforded by the Act for C. melanocarpa. The Service 
seeks data and comments from the public on this proposal.

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by 
February 17, 1998. Public hearing requests must be received by January 
30, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials concerning this proposal should be 
sent to the Field Supervisor, Boqueron 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Susan Silander, Botanist, at the 
Boqueron Field Office (see ADDRESSES section) (787/851-7297, facsimile 
787/851-7440).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Catesbaea melanocarpa (no common name) was first discovered in the 
mid-nineteenth century on the British island of Antigua by the German 
collector Hienrich Rudolph Wullschlaegel. It was found in St. Croix, 
U.S. Virgin Islands, in about 1881 by the Danish collector Baron H. F. 
A. von Eggers and in Guanica, Puerto Rico, by the German collector Paul 
Sintenis in 1886. Although duplicate specimens are maintained at other 
herbariums, the original collections were in the herbarium at Berlin-
Dahlem and were destroyed by the bombing during World War II.
    The species has also been reported from Barbuda and Guadeloupe, 
islands of the Lesser Antilles (Howard 1989, Proctor 1991). While 
little is known about the plant's status on these islands, the Center 
for Plant Conservation (1992) describes it as rare on Antigua. It was 
not rediscovered in St. Croix until 1988 and to date, it has not been 
relocated in the Guanica, Puerto Rico, area. The St. Croix population, 
located near Christiansted, consists of about 24 individual plants 
(Breckon and Kolterman 1993). In 1995, a small population, consisting 
of one individual, was located in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico 
Planning Board 1995). One specimen, collected in 1974, located in the 
herbarium in San Juan apparently originated from the Susua Commonwealth 
Forest. However, this specimen is sterile and in depauperate condition; 
therefore, its identification cannot be confirmed.
    Catesbaea melanocarpa, of the family Rubiaceae, belongs to a genus 
which consists of ten or more species of spiny shrubs. Most are 
confined to the Antilles but some may extend into the Bahamas and the 
Florida Keys. In Puerto Rico, two species are known--C. melanocarpa and 
C. parviflora. These two species are differentiated by the size and 
color of the fruits, black and larger, 5 to 6 millimeters (mm) (.19 to 
.23 inches (in)) in diameter, in the former and white and smaller 2 to 
4 mm (.07 to .15 in) in diameter, in the latter (Breckon and Kolterman 
1993, Britton and Wilson 1925). Some authors note that C. melanocarpa 
may be a synonym or variant of C. parviflora (Howard 1989, Proctor 
1991) and recommend further review. However, Breckon and Kolterman 
(1993) and the Center for Plant Conservation (1992) recommend its 
protection due to the extremely small number of individuals currently 
known, the intense pressure for development in these areas, and the 
potential for an appreciable loss of the species' genetic diversity.
    Catesbaea melanocarpa is a branching shrub which may reach 
approximately 3 meters (9.8 feet) in height. Spines are borne at every 
internode and are from 1 to 2 centimeters (.39 to .78 in) long. Leaves 
are small, from 5 to 25 mm (.19 to 1.0 in) long and 2 to 15 mm (.07 to 
.58 in) wide, often fascicled (clustered), and the small stipules are 
deciduous. The

[[Page 65784]]

flowers are white, solitary or paired, and almost sessile in the axils. 
The corolla is funnelform and from 8 to 10 mm (.31 to .39 in) long. The 
fruit is globose, 5 to 6 mm (.19 to .23 in) in diameter, and black with 
a crustaceous pericarp. The two-celled fruit contains five to seven 
seeds in each cell (Proctor 1991).

Previous Federal Action

    Catesbaea melanocarpa was identified as a category 2 candidate 
species in Notices of Review published in the Federal Register on 
February 21, 1990 (55 FR 6184), and September 30, 1993 (58 FR 51144). 
Prior to 1996, a category 2 species was one that was being considered 
for possible addition to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 
Plants, but for which conclusive data on biological vulnerability and 
threats were not available to support a proposed rule. Designation of 
category 2 species was discontinued in the February 28, 1996, Notice of 
Review (61 FR 7956). Catesbaea melanocarpa was approved as a candidate 
by the Service on September 6, 1995, and identified as a candidate in 
the 1996 Notice of Review. A candidate species is a species for which 
the Service has sufficient information to propose it for protection 
under the Act. This small shrub is considered a ``critical'' plant 
species by the Natural Heritage Program of the Puerto Rico Department 
of Natural and Environmental Resources. The Center for Plant 
Conservation (1992) has assigned the species a Priority Status of A (a 
species which could possibly go extinct in the wild in the next 5 
years).
    Because of budgetary constraints and the lasting effects of a 
congressionally imposed listing moratorium, the Service is processing 
listing actions according to the listing priority guidance published in 
the Federal Register on December 5, 1996 (61 FR 64475). The guidance 
clarifies the order in which the Service will process listing actions 
during fiscal year (FY) 1997. The guidance calls for giving highest 
priority to handling emergency situations (Tier 1) and second highest 
priority (Tier 2) to resolving the status of outstanding proposed 
listings. Third priority (Tier 3) is given to resolving the 
conservation status of candidate species and processing administrative 
findings on petitions to add species to the lists or reclassify 
threatened species to endangered status. The processing of this 
proposed rule falls under Tier 3. At this time, the Southeast Region 
has no pending Tier 1 actions and is near completion of its pending 
Tier 2 actions. Additionally, the guidance states that ``effective 
April 1, 1997, the Service will concurrently undertake all of the 
activities included in Tiers 1, 2, and 3'' (61 FR 64480). The Service 
announced an extension on October 23, 1997, (62 FR 55268) of the 
guidance for FY 1997. The guidance will remain in effect until the FY 
1998 appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior becomes law 
and new final guidance is published in the Federal Register.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act 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 
Catesbaea melanocarpa (Krug and Urban) are as follows:
    A. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range. Catesbaea melanocarpa is known 
only from Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadeloupe. 
Available information indicates that it is rare on Antigua (Center for 
Plant Conservation 1992). In Puerto Rico, it is known from a single 
individual on privately owned land. In St. Croix it is known from only 
one population consisting of about 24 individuals, also on privately 
owned land. The known individual from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, is 
located on land currently proposed for a residential/tourism 
development consisting of a hotel, condo-hotel, residential villas and 
lots, a golf course, and other associated facilities. In St. Croix, the 
population is located near Christiansted on land also subject to 
pressure for development.
    B. Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes. The use of the species for such purposes has not 
been documented as a factor in its decline.
    C. Disease or predation. Disease and predation have not been 
documented as factors in the decline of this 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, Catesbaea melanocarpa is not yet on the Commonwealth list. 
Federal listing would provide immediate protection under the Act and, 
by virtue of an existing section 6 agreement with the Commonwealth, 
listing will also assure the addition of this species to the 
Commonwealth list and enhance possibilities for funding needed 
research. The Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands has amended an 
existing regulation to provide for protection of endangered and 
threatened wildlife and plants. Catesbaea melanocarpa is considered by 
the U.S. Virgin Islands to be endangered (see ``Available Conservation 
Measures'' for discussion of prohibitions). As with the Commonwealth, 
the existence of a section 6 Cooperative Agreement with the Service 
will increase possibilities for funding needed research with this 
plant.
    E. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence. One of the most important factors affecting the continued 
survival of this species is its limited distribution. Because so few 
individuals are known to occur, the risk of extinction is extremely 
high. Catastrophic natural events, such as hurricanes, may dramatically 
affect forest species composition and structure by felling large trees 
and creating numerous canopy gaps. Breckon and Kolterman (1993) 
documented the loss of individuals in St. Croix following the passing 
of hurricane Hugo in 1989.
    The Service has carefully assessed the best scientific and 
commercial information available regarding the past, present, and 
future threats faced by this species in determining to propose this 
rule. Based on this evaluation, the preferred action is to list 
Catesbaea melanocarpa as endangered. Within the United States, the 
species is known from only one locality in Puerto Rico and one in St. 
Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Deforestation for residential and tourism 
development are imminent threats to the survival of the species. 
Therefore, endangered rather than threatened status more accurately 
describes the species' condition. The reasons for not proposing 
critical habitat for this species are discussed below in the ``Critical 
Habitat'' section.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as: (i) the 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by a species, at 
the time it is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found 
those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation 
of the species and (II) that may require special management 
considerations or protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the 
geographic area occupied by a species at the time it is listed, upon a 
determination that such areas are essential for the conservation of the 
species. ``Conservation'' means the use of all methods and procedures 
needed to bring the species to the point at which listing under the Act 
is no longer necessary.

[[Page 65785]]

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that, to the maximum extent prudent 
and determinable, the Secretary shall propose critical habitat at the 
time the species is proposed to be endangered or threatened. Service 
regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of 
critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following 
situations exist--(1) the species is threatened by taking or other 
human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be expected 
to increase the degree of threat to the species, or (2) such 
designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species. 
The Service finds that designation of critical habitat for Catesbaea 
melanocarpa is not prudent because such designation would not be 
beneficial to the species.
    Critical habitat designation, by definition, directly affects only 
Federal agency actions through consultation under section 7(a)(2) of 
the Act. 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 a listed species or destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat. Neither of the two known 
populations of Catesbaea melanocarpa occur on Federal land. However, 
Federal involvement with this species may occur through the use of 
Federal funding for rural housing and development on non-Federal lands. 
The use of such funding for projects affecting occupied habitat for 
this species would be subject to review under section 7(a)(2), whether 
or not critical habitat was designated. The precarious status of C. 
melanocarpa is such that any adverse modification or destruction of its 
occupied habitat would also jeopardize its continued existence. This 
would also hold true as the species recovers and its numbers increase. 
In addition, the Service believes that notification of Federal agencies 
of the areas where these plants occur can be accomplished without the 
designation of critical habitat. All involved parties and landowners 
have been notified of the location and importance of protecting this 
species' habitat. For these reasons, the Service believes that 
designation of currently occupied habitat of this species as critical 
habitat would not result in any additional benefit to the species and 
that such designation is not prudent.
    Potential introduction sites within unoccupied lands occur on lands 
under Federal management (Cabo Rojo, Laguna Cartagena and Sandy Point 
National Wildlife Refuges) and Commonwealth management (Guanica 
Commonwealth Forest). As managers of these subtropical dry forest 
lands, the Service and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and 
Environmental Resources are actively involved in conservation 
activities. Both agencies are committed to the protection of these 
forested areas and would minimize or avoid any impacts to such habitat. 
Any introduction would be closely coordinated with the area's managers. 
Introduction of this species onto unoccupied private lands likely would 
not be pursued because suitable habitat under private ownership occurs 
only in very small patches which are interspersed among developed areas 
and are too small for introduction. For these reasons, the Service 
believes that designation of currently unoccupied habitat of this 
species as critical habitat would not result in any additional benefit 
to the species and, therefore, such designation is not prudent.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the 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, Territory and private 
agencies, groups and individuals. The Act provides for possible land 
acquisition and cooperation with the Commonwealth and/or Territory 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 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 the 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. No critical 
habitat is being proposed for this species, as discussed above. Federal 
involvement may include Federal funding for rural housing and 
development (for example, funding by agencies such as the Rural 
Development or Housing and Urban Development).
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general trade prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
plants. All 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 a commercial activity, sell or offer it for 
sale in interstate or foreign commerce, or remove and reduce to 
possession the species from areas under Federal jurisdiction. In 
addition, for plants listed as endangered, the Act prohibits the 
malicious damage or destruction on areas under Federal jurisdiction and 
the removal, cutting, digging up, or damaging or destroying of 
endangered plants in knowing violation of any Commonwealth or 
Territorial law or regulation, including Commonwealth or Territorial 
criminal trespass law. Certain exceptions can apply to agents of the 
Service and Commonwealth and Territorial 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 plants under certain circumstances. Such permits are 
available for scientific purposes and to enhance the propagation and 
survival of the species. It is anticipated that few trade permits for 
this species will ever be sought or issued, since the species is not 
known to be in cultivation and is uncommon in the wild.
    It is the policy of the Service, published in the Federal Register 
on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent 
practicable those activities that would or would not constitute a 
violation of section 9 of the Act at the time of listing. The intent of 
this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of listing on 
proposed or ongoing activities. The only known populations of Catesbaea 
melanocarpa are located on privately owned land. Since there is no 
Federal ownership, and the species is not currently in trade, the only 
potential

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section 9 involvement would relate to removing or damaging the plant in 
knowing violation of Commonwealth or Territorial law, or in knowing 
violation of Commonwealth or Territorial criminal trespass law. Section 
15.01(b) of the Commonwealth ``Regulation to Govern the Management of 
Threatened and Endangered Species in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico'' 
states: ``It is illegal to take, cut, mutilate, uproot, burn or 
excavate any endangered plant species or part thereof within the 
jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.'' The U.S. Virgin 
Island regulation states that ``no person may harass, injure or kill, 
or attempt to do the same, or sell or offer for sale any specimen, or 
parts or produce of such specimen, of an endangered or threatened 
species.'' The Service is not aware of any otherwise lawful activities 
being conducted or proposed by the public that will be affected by this 
listing and result in a violation of section 9.
    Questions regarding whether specific activities will constitute a 
violation of section 9 should be directed to the Field Supervisor of 
the Service's Caribbean Field Office (see ADDRESSES section). Requests 
for copies of the regulations on listed species and inquiries regarding 
prohibitions and permits should be addressed to the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, 
Georgia 30345-3301 (404/679-7313).

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service intends that any final action resulting from this 
proposal will be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, 
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 Catesbaea melanocarpa;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of this species and 
the reasons why any habitat should or should not be determined to be 
critical habitat pursuant to section 4 of the Act;
    (3) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size of this species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject areas and their 
possible impacts on this species.
    Final promulgation of the regulation on Catesbaea melanocarpa will 
take into consideration the comments and any additional information 
received by the Service, and such communications may lead to a final 
regulation that differs from this proposal.
    The Act provides for one or more public hearings 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 Supervisor, 
Boqueron Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that an Environmental 
Assessment and Environmental Impact Statements, 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 Act. A notice outlining the Service's reasons for this 
determination was published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 
(48 FR 49244).

Required Determinations

    The Service has examined this regulation under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 and found it to contain no information collection 
requirements.

References Cited

Breckon, G. and D. Kolterman. 1993. Catesbaea melanocarpa Krug & 
Urban [Rubiaceae]. Final Report under Cooperative Agreement No. 14-
16-0004-92-970 between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.
Britton, N.L. and P. Wilson. 1925. Scientific survey of Porto Rico 
and the Virgin Islands. Volume VI--Part 2. Botany of Porto Rico and 
the Virgin Islands. Descriptive flora--Spermatophyta (continued). 
New York Academy of Sciences, New York. 158 pp.
Center for Plant Conservation. 1992. Report on the Rare Plants of 
Puerto Rico. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri.
Howard, R.A. 1989. Flora of the Lesser Antilles. Leeward and 
Windward Islands. Volume 6. Dicotyledoneae--Part 3. Arnold 
Arboretum, Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. 658 pp.
Liogier, H.L. and L.F. Martorell. 1982. Flora of Puerto Rico and 
Adjacent Islands: a systematic synopsis. Editorial de la Universidad 
de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. 342 pp.
Proctor, G. R. 1991. Puerto Rican plant species of special concern. 
Status and recommendations. Publicacion Cientifica Miscelanea No. 2. 
Departamento de Recursos Naturales de Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto 
Rico. 197 pp.
Puerto Rico Planning Board. 1995. Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement for Monte Carlo Resort and Boqueron Bay Site. San Juan, 
Puerto Rico. 88 pp.
    Author. The primary author of this proposed rule is Ms. Susan 
Silander, Boqueron Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

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. Amend section 17.12(h) by adding the following, in alphabetical 
order under FLOWERING PLANTS, to the list of Endangered and Threatened 
Plants:


Sec. 17.12  Endangered and threatened plants.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

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                        Species                                                                                                                         
--------------------------------------------------------    Historic range           Family            Status      When listed    Critical     Special  
         Scientific name                Common name                                                                               habitat       rules   
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         Flowering Plants                                                                                                                               
                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  
Catesbaea melanocarpa............  None................  U.S.A. (PR, VI)      Rubiaceae..........  E               ...........           NA           NA
                                                          Antigua, Barbuda,                                                                             
                                                          Guadeloupe.                                                                                   
                   *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  *                  
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    Dated: November 25, 1997.
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service,
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
[FR Doc. 97-32738 Filed 12-15-97; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P