[Federal Register: February 22, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 34)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 8533-8538]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AE40

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To 
Remove the Tinian Monarch From the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule and notice of petition finding.


SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(Act), as amended, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
proposes to remove the Tinian monarch (Monarcha takatsukasae) from the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The Tinian monarch 
is a bird endemic to the island of Tinian in the Mariana archipelago in 
the western Pacific Ocean. It was listed as endangered on June 2, 1970, 
because its populations were thought to be critically low due to the 
destruction of native forests by pre-World War II (WW II) agricultural 
practices and military activities during WW II. Forest bird surveys 
conducted by the Service in 1982 resulted in a population estimate of 
40,000 monarchs. Based on the results of this survey, we downlisted the 
monarch to threatened status on April 6, 1987. A study of monarch 
breeding biology in 1994 and 1995 suggested a rough population estimate 
of 52,904 birds. In 1996, a replication of the 1982 surveys yielded a 
population estimate of 55,721 birds, a significant increase from 1982 
levels. The 1996 survey also found significantly denser forest habitat 
from 1982 levels, which may reflect an increase in monarch habitat 
quality. This proposed rule acknowledges the increase in population 
numbers and the likely improvement in habitat quality. If made final 
this rule would remove Federal protection provided by the Act for this 
species. Removal of Federal protection for the Tinian monarch does not 
nullify protections provided by the government of the Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to the monarch as a protected 
wildlife species or its designation by CNMI as a threatened or 
endangered species. This proposal also constitutes a finding on a 
petition to delist this species.

DATES: We must receive comments from all interested parties by April 
23, 1999. We must receive public hearing requests by April 8, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Send comments and materials concerning this proposal to the 
Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands 
Ecoregion, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, Honolulu, 
Hawaii 96850. Comments and materials received will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael R. Lusk, Staff Biologist, 
Pacific Islands Ecoregion, (see ADDRESSES section), telephone 808/541-
3441; facsimile 808/541-3470.



    The Tinian monarch, locally known as Chuchurican Tinian, was first 
recognized as a species in 1931, when it was described by Y. Yamashina 
(Takatsukasa and Yamashina 1931). It is a small (15 centimeters (6 
inches)) flycatcher (Family Monarchidae) with light rufous underparts, 
olive-brown upper parts, dark brown wings and tail, and white rump and 
undertail coverts (Baker 1951). The monarch is endemic to the island of 
Tinian, CNMI. However, a recent examination of museum specimens by 
Peters (1996) suggests that a now extirpated population may have once 
existed on the island of Saipan, CNMI. The monarch inhabits a variety 
of forest types on Tinian, including native limestone forest (dominated 
by such species as Ficus spp., Elaeocarpus joga, Mammea odorata, Guamia 
mariannae, Cynometra ramiflora, Aglaia mariannensis, Premna 
obtusifolia, Pisonia grandis, Ochrosia mariannensis, Neisosperma 
oppositifolia, Intsia bijuga, Melanolepis multiglandulosa, Eugenia 
spp., Pandanus spp., Artocarpus spp., and Hernandia spp.), secondary 
vegetation (consisting primarily of Acacia confusa, Albizia lebbeck, 
Casuarina equisetifolia, Cocos nucifera, and Delonix regia with

[[Page 8534]]

some native species mixed in), and nearly pure stands of introduced 
Leucaena leucocephala (tangantangan) (Engbring et al. 1986, USFWS 
    Heavy disturbance of the island's native forests began in the 18th 
century when the Spaniards used Tinian as a supply island for Guam and 
maintained large herds of cattle and other ungulates on the island 
(Fosberg 1960). This trend continued, and in 1926 a Japanese company 
leased the entire island and cleared additional forested lands for 
sugarcane production (Belt Collins 1994). During WW II, most remaining 
native vegetation was destroyed or denuded by either military campaigns 
or military construction, though some suitable bird habitat still 
survived (Baker 1946). After the war, the U.S. military may have seeded 
the CNMI with tangantangan (USFWS 1995, 1996). Currently, the 
vegetation on Tinian is highly disturbed, with the single most 
predominant habitat type on Tinian being tangantangan thickets (Fosberg 
1960, Engbring et al. 1986, Falanruw et al. 1989). According to 
Engbring et al. (1986), 38 percent of Tinian is dominated by 
tangantangan, while Falanruw et al. (1989) estimated 54 percent of the 
island to be covered in secondary vegetation, which in her definition 
included tangantangan thickets. Only 5 percent to 7 percent of the 
island is estimated to remain in native forest (Engbring et al. 1986, 
Falanruw et al. 1989), which is restricted to steep limestone 
escarpments (Falanruw et al. 1989).
    In 1995, the annual census of Tinian recorded a human population of 
2,628 residents. In 1986, Engbring et al. (1986) recorded the 
population as being less than 1,000. The majority of residents live in 
the island's only town of San Jose at the southwestern edge of the 
island. The northern two-thirds of the island (71 percent of the total 
island) is leased to the U.S. military for defense purposes (Belt 
Collins 1994). The remaining 29 percent of the island is divided 
between leased public property (67 percent), privately owned property 
(26 percent), and other public property (7 percent) (Deborah Clark, 
Marianas Public Land Corporation, pers. comm. 1998). Approximately 10 
percent of the total island is devoted to agriculture, while another 30 
to 50 percent is used for cattle grazing (Engbring et al. 1986, Belt 
Collins 1994).
    We originally listed the Tinian monarch as endangered in 1970 (35 
FR 8491) under the authority of the Endangered Species Conservation Act 
of 1969 (16 U.S.C. 668cc). We continued the endangered status of the 
monarch under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544). 
We based our decision to list the monarch as endangered on an estimate 
by Gleize (1945) of 40-50 monarchs on Tinian after WW II (April 6, 
1987, 52 FR 10890), although it is not clear if his report was an 
estimate of the number of birds he saw, or an estimate of the entire 
population. Pratt et al. (1979) suggested that this estimate 
represented only the number of birds Gleize observed in a specific, 
small part of the island. About the same time as Gleize, Downs (1946) 
reported that monarchs were restricted in distribution to distinct 
locations on the island, while Marshall (1949) considered the monarch 
to be abundant. In the late 1970s, Pratt et al. (1979) estimated 
monarchs to number in the tens of thousands and to prefer tangantangan 
thickets. In 1982, the Service conducted forest bird surveys of the 
southern islands in the Mariana archipelago. We found the monarch to be 
the second most abundant species on Tinian with a population estimate 
of 40,000, distributed throughout the island and across all forested 
habitat types (Engbring et al. 1986). Engbring et al. (1986) 
recommended the reassessment of the monarch's endangered status. This 
reassessment led to the reclassification of the Tinian monarch from 
endangered to threatened in 1987 (52 FR 10890).
    Between 1994 and 1995, we conducted a life history study of the 
Tinian monarch and reported a population estimate of 52,904 monarchs. 
During this study we found that the native limestone forest may be 
preferred by monarchs over secondary and tangantangan forest types, 
based on the following--(1) monarch home range sizes were found to be 
four to five times smaller in native limestone forest than in secondary 
and tangantangan forests (home range sizes in limestone forest averaged 
1,221 square meters (1,334 square yards), while home range sizes in 
secondary and tangantangan forest types averaged 5,196 and 6,385 square 
meters (5,679 and 6,979 square yards), respectively, indicating that 
native forest provides higher quality monarch habitat because smaller 
areas are able to support a monarch home range; (2) 64 percent of all 
monarch nests were constructed in native tree species; (3) of 114 
monarch nests, we found 62 in native forest while only we found 52 in 
the secondary and tangantangan forest types combined, indicating that 
monarchs have higher nest densities in native forest; (4) nesting 
success in native limestone forest was greater than in secondary and 
tangantangan forest types (of 19 nests that produced nestlings, 13 were 
in native limestone forest and only 6 were in secondary forest and 
tangantangan forests combined); and (5) based on resightings of banded 
birds, we found monarch densities to be four to five times higher in 
limestone forest than in either secondary or tangantangan forest (30.7 
birds/hectare (ha), 7.7 birds/ha, and 6.0 birds/ha, respectively) 
(USFWS 1996). Nevertheless, we found that the monarch was successfully 
foraging and breeding in secondary and tangantangan forests throughout 
the island and recommended that the threatened status of the monarch be 
reassessed (USFWS 1996).
    Subsequently, we conducted a survey of the avifauna of Tinian in 
1996 following the methodology of the 1982 surveys for comparative 
purposes. The 1996 survey estimated the monarch population at 55,721 
birds, significantly higher than the 1982 estimates (Lusk et al. 1997). 
The 1996 survey also found that across all forest types, vegetation 
density had significantly increased from 1982 levels. This may be 
related to a marked decrease in grazing pressure in recent years (Lusk 
et al. 1997). We hypothesize that the increase in the Tinian monarch 
population is related to the increase in density of both native and 
introduced forest habitat types which may represent an increase in 
monarch habitat quality (Lusk et al. 1997).

Previous Federal Action

    We classified the Tinian monarch as endangered on June 2, 1970 (35 
FR 8495), and we included it as an endangered species under the 
Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, which superseded earlier 
endangered species legislation. The primary reasons for listing the 
monarch were presumed low numbers (April 6, 1987; 52 FR 10890) and the 
removal or destruction of forest by agriculture practices and/or 
military activities during WW II (November 1, 1985; 50 FR 45632). 
However, this listing was not based on actual surveys of the bird's 
status. Subsequently, in 1982, we conducted a survey and found an 
increase both in Tinian monarch numbers and suitable forest habitat 
(Engbring et al. 1986). On November 1, 1985 (50 FR 45632), the Service 
proposed that the monarch be removed from protection of the Act, as 
amended. Based on comments received, we chose to reclassify the monarch 
to threatened status, thus continuing protection of the species under 
the Act (April 6, 1987; 52 FR 10890). We did not designate critical 
habitat for the Tinian monarch. This delisting proposal serves as a 
positive finding on a petition

[[Page 8535]]

submitted by the National Wilderness Institute dated February 3, 1997, 
requesting delisting of the Tinian monarch.

Listing Priority Guidance

    The Service has implemented a series of listing priority guidance 
policies since 1996 to clarify the order in which we will process 
rulemaking actions. The need for this guidance arose following major 
disruptions in our listing budget beginning in Fiscal Year 1995 and a 
moratorium on certain listing actions during parts of Fiscal Years 1995 
and 1996. The intent of the guidance is to focus our efforts on listing 
actions that will provide the greatest conservation benefits to 
imperiled species in the most expeditious and biologically sound 
manner. Due to a large backlog of species in need of the Act's 
protection, the preparation of delisting rules was a low priority 
following the lifting of the moratorium in Fiscal Year 1996 and in 
Fiscal Year 1997.
    Processing of this proposed delisting conforms with the Listing 
Priority Guidance for Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999 published on May 8, 
1998 (63 FR 25502). This guidance gives highest priority (Tier 1) to 
processing emergency rules to add species to the Lists of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; second priority (Tier 2) to 
processing final determinations on proposals to add species to the 
lists, processing new proposals to add species to the Lists, processing 
administrative findings on petitions (to add species to the lists, 
delist species, or reclassify listed species), and processing a limited 
number of proposed or final rules to delist or reclassify species; and 
third priority (Tier 3) to processing proposed or final rules 
designating critical habitat. Processing of this delisting proposal is 
a Tier 2 action.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act and regulations (50 CFR 
part 424) promulgated to implement the listing provisions of the Act 
set forth the procedures for listing, reclassifying, or removing 
species from the Federal lists. We may determine a species as 
endangered or threatened due to one or more of the five factors 
described in section 4(a)(1). The data we use to support a removal must 
be the best scientific and commercial data available, and it must 
substantiate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for 
one or more of the following reasons: extinction, recovery of the 
species, or an error in the original data that supported the 
classification. The factors considered and their application to the 
Tinian monarch are discussed below.

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

    Surveys (1982, 1994-1995, 1996) conducted since the classification 
of the Tinian monarch as endangered in 1970 have shown an increase in 
the known abundance and distribution of this species. At the time of 
listing, we thought its numbers were critically low due to the 
destruction of native forests by pre-WW II agricultural practices and 
war-time military activities (50 FR 45632). However, no surveys for 
this species were conducted in the 20-plus years before the 1970 
listing. The monarch inhabits approximately 62 percent of Tinian, of 
which approximately 93 percent is secondary and tangantangan vegetation 
(Engbring et al. 1986, USFWS 1996, Lusk et al. 1997). Although native 
limestone forest provides the preferred habitat of the monarch, 
secondary vegetation and tangantangan thickets also provide important 
breeding and foraging habitat (Engbring et al. 1986, USFWS 1996, Lusk 
et al. 1997).
    Tinian has a total surface area of approximately 10,172 ha (25,135 
acres) (Falanruw et al. 1989). Currently, the U.S. Navy leases the 
northern two-thirds of the island (71 percent of the total island) for 
defense purposes (Belt Collins 1994). This leased land encompasses 
roughly 75 percent of the total remaining monarch habitat on the 
island, but only about 30 percent of the total remaining native 
limestone forest. Therefore, we grossly estimate that about 70 percent 
of the monarch population (39,000 birds) now occurs on Navy-leased 
lands (Annie Marshall, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers. comm. 
1998). The Navy entered into a 50-year lease agreement with the CNMI 
for these Tinian lands in 1983, with an option to renew for another 50 
years (CNMI and USA 1994; Tim Sutterfield, Navy Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, pers. comm. 1998). None of the current Tinian-leased lands 
are expected to be leased back to Tinian for the duration of the 
remaining 50-year contract, which expires in 2033 (T. Sutterfield, 
pers. comm. 1998). Approximately one-half of the lands under Navy lease 
are designated as Exclusive Military Use Area; the Navy allows grazing 
agriculture and other permitted uses on the remaining lands.
    Activities in the Exclusive Military Use Area were outlined in the 
August 1998 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Military Training 
in the Marianas. Most military activities on Tinian in the future will 
be the same as past actions, including field maneuvers, a variety of 
aviation training and air-cushioned landing craft training. Such 
training has had little to no impact on the Tinian monarch population 
in the past and we do not expect it to impact this species in the 
future. Other proposed land uses in this area include construction of a 
small logistics support base camp, security gates, a small arms range 
and a mortar range, and the use of two beaches for amphibious assault 
vehicle landings. These activities may involve minimal clearing of 
monarch habitat but we do not expect them to jeopardize the monarch 
population. No other construction activities are planned for the area.
    On the other Navy-leased lands that are available for non-military 
activities, large portions already contain fields suitable for grazing, 
and grazing in these areas is not likely to significantly affect the 
monarch population. Agriculture in this area, which is defined in the 
lease as planting, cultivating and harvesting of crops or fruit or nut 
bearing trees, may involve minimal clearing. However, we do not expect 
this to occur on a large scale because water is limited, and there is 
no irrigation system to allow cultivation of large tracts of land. 
Other uses could include the small-scale construction of permanent 
structures, most likely in the form of small houses built close to 
agriculture or grazing areas. Based on past trends on Tinian, we do not 
anticipate major construction activities on Navy-leased lands.
    Approximately 10 percent of the total island is devoted to 
agriculture (e.g., taro, sweet potato, eggplant, etc.) while another 30 
percent to 50 percent is used for cattle grazing (Engbring et al. 1986, 
Belt Collins 1994). The number of cattle grazing on the island has been 
reduced dropped by approximately 60 percent over the last two decades 
and this reduced grazing pressure should increase forest densities 
(Lusk et al. 1997). As cattle grazing decreases and revenue is lost 
through this enterprise, lands outside of Navy lease areas may be 
developed to make up for lost revenues, while lands under Navy lease 
are more likely to regenerate because any large scale development of 
these lands is prohibited (CNMI and USA 1994). Therefore, even though 
land clearing on Tinian may increase as a result of resort and casino 
development, approximately 71 percent of the remaining land on Tinian 
is covered by Navy lease until 2033. After this time the Navy has the 
option to renew its lease for another 50 years.

[[Page 8536]]

    Although there are currently no specific plans by the CNMI 
government to set aside any of the land now leased by the Navy as 
conservation areas, we have begun discussions with the government of 
Tinian and the Navy to set aside conservation areas as mitigation for 
project development on other areas of Tinian. The Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA), in its Pre-Final Environmental Assessment for 
Airport Improvements at Tinian International Airport, proposes to set 
aside, in perpetuity, 379 ha of monarch habitat as mitigation with the 
CNMI government and the Navy.
    We anticipate conversion of portions of the remaining forests of 
Tinian for agriculture, military activities, resort and casino 
development, and housing for a growing human population in the future. 
A four hundred-room casino was recently completed on Tinian and two 
more are in the planning stages; only a total of five are permitted for 
the island (Mike Fitzgerald, Telesource CNMI, pers. comm. 1998). Even 
if additional development is permitted, it is unlikely that development 
or habitat destruction will approach the level that occurred during 
WWII within the foreseeable future. WWII was a major event which, in 
conjunction with previous clearing for agriculture, culminated in the 
clearing of approximately 95 percent of Tinian's native forest. In 
addition, most of the best monarch habitat, native limestone forest, is 
likely to remain protected simply because the majority of it occurs 
along steep cliff faces which cannot be developed. If all forested 
lands on Tinian were developed, except for the native limestone forest 
along steep cliff faces and the Navy-leased lands, we estimate that 
enough habitat would remain to support a population of 41,791 monarchs 
(75 percent of the current population--70 percent on protected Navy 
lands and 5 percent in undevelopable native limestone forest outside 
Navy lands).

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

    The monarch is a small song bird and is not threatened by or sought 
for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes.

C. Disease or Predation

    There are no known avian disease or predation problems on Tinian. 
At present all bird species on Tinian appear to have healthy 
populations. Exotic predators, such as rats (Rattus rattus), cats 
(Felis catus), and monitor lizards (Varanus indicus), and native 
predators, such as collared kingfishers (Halcyon chloris) and 
Micronesian starlings (Aplonis opacus), are all potential predators of 
the monarch and currently exist on Tinian (USFWS 1996). However, the 
fact that the monarch population has increased over the past decade 
indicates that these predators are not limiting factors. There is 
concern on Tinian, as there is for all islands in Micronesia, that 
disease or additional predators might someday be introduced and pose a 
    On Guam, in the southern Mariana Islands, the brown tree snake 
(Boiga irregularis), an introduced predator, has either extirpated or 
driven to extinction the majority of the native birds (Savidge 1987). 
There have been no sightings of brown tree snakes on Tinian since 
November 1995, when a total of four snakes were reported. No snakes 
have ever been captured on Tinian. However, with increased military 
activity and resort and casino construction on Tinian, the chance of an 
accidental introduction from Guam to Tinian is increased. In 1997, a 
cargo quarantine area, consisting of a hollow block wall with smooth 
finish and electrified mesh on top, was constructed at Tinian's port to 
hold incoming cargo for snake clearance. We required construction of 
the quarantine area as part of the Voice of America radio tower project 
on Tinian (USFWS 1995). A wildlife technician provided by the CNMI 
Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) maintains approximately 30 snake 
traps within the cargo quarantine area and around the entire port area 
(Vogt 1998). In addition, the CNMI DFW is tracking potential brown tree 
snake prey base species in the vicinity of the ports of Saipan, Tinian, 
and Rota as a method of early snake detection. Currently, the only 
potential prey monitored is the green anole lizard (Anolis 
carolinensis) population, but there are plans to monitor the shrew 
(Suncus murinus) population in the future as well (Vogt 1998). The CNMI 
Quarantine Division currently runs a sniffer dog program on Saipan that 
consists of two handlers and two dogs that check incoming cargo for 
brown tree snakes. The CNMI hopes to expand this program to Tinian and 
Rota by 1999. In addition, the CNMI conducts training for its DFW and 
Quarantine personnel with the U.S. Geological Survey Biological 
Resource Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife 
Services on Guam at least two to three times per year (Vogt 1998).
    The Department of Defense is working with the Service toward the 
control of the snakes on Guam, particularly around transport centers 
(docks and airfields). We are actively funding research into methods of 
controlling the snakes on Guam, in part, to reduce the threat of 
introduction to the other islands in this area of the Pacific. Both the 
CNMI DFW and Guam Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources conduct 
active brown tree snake public awareness educational campaigns 
consisting of school presentations, news releases, workshops, and 
poster/pamphlet distribution.
    The delisting of the Tinian monarch is not expected to influence 
the current and on-going brown tree snake control and prevention 
programs in the CNMI. Funding for and implementation of these programs 
are not dependent on species protected under the Act. In 1996, the CNMI 
became a signatory of the Memorandum of Agreement between the local 
governments of Hawaii, Guam and the CNMI, and individual Federal 
government agencies concerned with brown tree snake eradication and 
control. This MOU commits the CNMI to a proactive brown tree snake 
program and allows the CNMI to apply for funding from the allotment of 
money appropriated by the U.S. Congress each year for brown tree snake 
    The governor of the CNMI has also signed a directive making it a 
priority for the Ports Authority and related agencies to work with the 
CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop effective snake 
interdiction strategies. Because of this, the DFW has been able to get 
a commitment from the Ports Authority for a quarantine yard at the port 
on Saipan for high risk cargo. We believe the quarantine yard on Saipan 
will indirectly benefit Tinian by preventing the spread of brown tree 
snakes into the CNMI. In addition, all construction companies operating 
in the CNMI must have a snake control plan. A typical plan calls for 
inspection of cargo, snake searches and possibly running snake traps at 
the job site.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The monarch is presently listed on the CNMI's list of Threatened or 
Endangered Species, although no local regulations have been promulgated 
to specifically protect species on this list. Species on the CNMI 
threatened and endangered list primarily benefit from name recognition 
rather than through specific statutory protections. There are, however, 
other CNMI laws and regulations that protect the monarch. Legal 
protection for the monarch comes from Public Law 2-51 which states that 
it is illegal to kill, capture or harass forest birds (except doves 
which can be hunted with a license), including their

[[Page 8537]]

eggs or offsprings. The monarch is considered ``protected wildlife'' 
under this law. Protected wildlife includes native forest birds, 
waterfowl, shorebirds, seabirds and marine mammals. There are few, if 
any, enforcement problems, because the monarch is not harvested for 
commercial, recreational, or other purposes.
    Perhaps more important than regulations specifically protecting the 
monarch are laws that protect the overall integrity of the island 
ecosystem, such as quarantine laws. Quarantine regulations have been 
promulgated and are enforced by the CNMI government at airports and 
ports of entry. The U.S. military is self-regulatory and enforces its 
own quarantine regulations. Other CNMI laws that protect the 
environment and provide indirect benefit to the monarch include the 
Coastal Resource Management Act (Public Law 3-47) which was enacted 
February 11, 1983. This law established the Coastal Resources 
Management Office, Coastal Advisory Council, and the Appeals Board to 
encourage land-use master planning, the development of zoning and 
building code legislation, and to promote the wise development of 
coastal resources. The Environmental Protection Act (Public Law 2-23) 
was enacted October 8, 1982. It established the Division of 
Environmental Quality, in part, to maintain optimal levels of air, land 
and water quality to protect and preserve the public health and general 
welfare. The Soil and Water Conservation Act (Public Law 4-44) was 
enacted May 1, 1985. It created the Soil and Water Conservation Program 
within the Department of Natural Resources to promote soil and water 
conservation by preventing erosion. Finally, the Fish, Game and 
Endangered Species Act (Public Law 2-51) was enacted October 19, 1981. 
It established the Division of Fish and Wildlife to provide the 
conservation of fish, game and endangered species of plants and 

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    We know of no threats to the monarch by any other natural or 
manmade factors.
    The regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) state that a species may be 
delisted if (1) it becomes extinct, (2) it recovers, or (3) the 
original classification data were in error. We have 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. All available information indicates that the 
monarch has recovered from formerly depleted numbers following WW II, 
and analysis of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) shows 
that the species no longer meets the Act's definitions of threatened or 
endangered. Therefore, we propose to remove the Tinian monarch from the 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

Effects of This Rule

    This rule, if made final, will revise Sec. 17.11 (h) to remove the 
Tinian monarch from the Federal list of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife, and will formally recognize that this species is not likely 
to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The prohibitions 
and conservation measures provided by the Act, particularly sections 7 
and 9, will no longer apply to this species. Federal agencies would no 
longer need to consult with us to insure that any action they 
authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of the Tinian monarch.
    The Tinian monarch is protected by the CNMI government (Public Law 
2-51, 2 CMC 5108). Removal of Federal protection for the Tinian monarch 
does not nullify its protection by the local CNMI government. Future 
management actions conducted by both the CNMI government and the 
Service will primarily involve continuing to fund both research and 
implementation of brown tree snake control techniques to reduce the 
risk of introduction of snakes onto Tinian, but will also involve 
efforts to set aside parts of Tinian's forests as wildlife conservation 


    The 1988 amendments to the Act (section 4(g)) require that all 
species that have been delisted due to recovery be monitored for at 
least 5 years following delisting. We intend to monitor the status of 
the Tinian monarch, in cooperation with the CNMI, through periodic 
field surveys of the distribution and population size of the monarch, 
monitoring of development and land clearing on Tinian, assessment of 
impacts of military training on Navy leased lands, and close monitoring 
of potential introduction of brown tree snakes onto the island.

Public Comments Solicited

Proposed Delisting

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal be as 
accurate as possible. Therefore, we solicit comments or suggestions 
from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, industry, or any other interested party concerning this 
proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to this species;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of this species;
    (3) Additional information concerning range, distribution, and 
population sizes of this species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on this species.
    Final promulgation of the regulation on this species will take into 
consideration the comments and any additional information we receive, 
and such communications may lead to a final determination that differs 
from this proposal.
    The Endangered Species Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. We must receive hearing requests within 
45 days of the date of publication of the proposal in the Federal 
Register. You must make such requests in writing and address them to 
the Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Ecoregion, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (see ADDRESSES section).

Executive Order 12866

    Executive Order 12866 requires agencies to write regulations that 
are easy to understand. We invite your comments on how to make this 
proposal easier to understand including answers to questions such as 
the following: (1) Is the discussion in the Supplementary Information 
section of the preamble helpful in understanding the proposal? (2) Does 
the proposal contain technical language or jargon that interferes with 
its clarity? (3) Does the format of the proposal (grouping and order of 
sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce its 
clarity? What else could we do to make the proposal easier to 
    Send a copy of any comments that concern how we could make this 
notice easier to understand to: Office of Regulatory Affairs, 
Department of the Interior, Room 7229, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, 
DC 20240. You may also e-mail the comments to: Exsec@ios.doi.gov.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that Environmental Assessments and Environmental 
Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of

[[Page 8538]]

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 our reasons for this determination was 
published in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 CFR 1320, 
which implement provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.), require that interested members of the public and 
affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on agency information 
collection and record keeping activities (see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)). The OMB 
regulations at 5 CFR 1320.3(c) defines a collection of information as 
the obtaining of information by or for an agency by means of identical 
questions posed to, or identical reporting, record keeping, or 
disclosure requirements imposed on ten or more persons. Furthermore, 5 
CFR 1320.3(c)(4) specifies that ``ten or more persons'' refers to the 
persons to whom a collection of information is addressed by the agency 
within any 12-month period.
    This rule does not include any collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The 
information needed to monitor the status of the Tinian monarch will be 
collected primarily by Service, Navy, and the CNMI DFW. We do not 
anticipate a need to request data or other information from the public, 
other than the DFW, to satisfy monitoring information needs. If it 
becomes necessary to collect information from ten or more individuals, 
groups, or organizations per year, we will first obtain information 
collection approval from OMB.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from the Pacific Islands Ecoregion (see ADDRESSES section).
    Author. The primary author of this proposed rule is Michael Lusk, 
Pacific Islands Ecoregion, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (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

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we hereby propose to amend 
part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations, as set forth below:


    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.

Sec. 17.11  [Amended]

    2. Amend Sec. 17.11(h) by removing the entry ``Monarch, Tinian (old 
world flycatcher)'' under ``BIRDS'' from the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife.

    Dated: January 7, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-4206 Filed 2-19-99; 8:45 am]