[Federal Register: June 8, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 111)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 30860-30866]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AH56

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To 
Remove Potentilla robbinsiana (Robbins' cinquefoil) From the Endangered 
and Threatened Plant List

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to 
remove Potentilla robbinsiana, commonly called Robbins' cinquefoil, 
from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. We propose this 
action because the available data indicate that this species has met 
the goals for delisting. The main population of the species currently 
has more than 14,000 plants, and the 2 transplant

[[Page 30861]]

populations have reached or surpassed minimum viable population size. 
The proposed action, if finalized, would remove Potentilla robbinsiana 
as an endangered species from the List of Endangered and Threatened 
Plants and would remove the designation of critical habitat.
    This proposed rule includes a proposed 5-year post-delisting 
monitoring plan as required for species that are delisted due to 
recovery. The plan will include monitoring of population trends of 
natural and transplant populations.

DATES: Comments from all interested parties on the Potentilla 
robbinsiana delisting proposal must be received by August 7, 2001. 
Public hearing requests must be received by July 23, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Comments and other information concerning this proposal to 
remove Robbins' cinquefoil from the list of endangered species should 
be sent to Diane Lynch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast 
Regional Office, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, Massachusetts 01035 
(facsimile: 413-253-8482). Comments and materials received will be 
available for public inspection by appointment during normal business 
hours at the above address.
    Comments and suggestions on specific information collection 
requirements should be sent to the Service Information Collection 
Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS 224 ARLSQ, 1849 C 
Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Lynch at the above address, or 
at 413-253-8628. To request a copy of the information collection 
request, explanatory information, and related forms, contact 703-358-



    Although its discovery was not formalized until 1840 (Torrey and 
Gray, 1840), the first recorded collection of Potentilla robbinsiana 
(Robbins' or dwarf cinquefoil) by Thomas Nuttall in 1824 generated a 
strong interest among botanists and others in this diminutive member of 
the rose family (Rosaceae). Initially, there was confusion as to its 
taxonomic status, and it was designated as a variety of various 
European cinquefoils, but it was eventually recognized as a distinct 
species (Rydberg, 1896).
    Potentilla robbinsiana is a long-lived perennial herb. Its hairy 
three-part compound leaves are deeply toothed, and mature plants form a 
dense 2-4 centimeter (1-1.5 inch) rosette. Individual plants develop a 
deep central taproot, which helps to anchor them and resists frost 
heaving. Potentilla robbinsiana is one of the first plants to bloom in 
the alpine zone where it is found, flowering soon after the snows 
recede, from late-May to mid-June. Adult plants produce from 1 to 30, 
5-petalled yellow flowers on individual stems. The achenes mature by 
late July, and disperse on dry windy days. These seeds seldom disperse 
more than 20 cm from the parent plant, which limits natural 
reestablishment (Kimball and Paul, 1986). The seeds remain dormant for 
at least one winter, and germination begins the following year during 
June and July. Although seed viability is generally high, seedling 
survival is low (Iszard-Crowly and Kimball, 1998).
    Various experiments have shown that Potentilla robbinsiana produces 
seed asexually so that seedlings are genetically identical (Lee and 
Greene, 1986). This species has the chromosome number 49 that allows it 
to maintain itself through asexual reproduction, which partially 
explains the low genetic variability found within the sampled 
population (David O'Malley, personal communication, 2000).
    Potentilla robbinsiana is endemic to the White Mountains of New 
Hampshire and is restricted to two small, distinct areas on lands 
administered by the White Mountain National Forest. Herbaria 
collections suggest that historically there may have been a number of 
small populations in close proximity to these two areas. Currently 
there are only two natural populations. Reports of occurrences outside 
of New Hampshire have been discounted (Cogbill, 1993), and records 
indicate that Potentilla robbinsiana has always had a very narrow 
geographic distribution.
    The largest natural population of Potentilla robbinsiana occurs on 
Monroe Flats located just above treeline on a col between Mt. Monroe 
and Mt. Washington on the Presidential Range. Within this small area 
(less than 1 hectares (ha) (2 acres)), the population is well 
established with more than 14,000 plants at present. Considering its 
local abundance and density at this one location, it is assumed that 
some of the unique features of Monroe Flats are important habitat 
requirements for Potentilla robbinsiana. Monroe Flats (elev. 1,550 
meters (m) (5,115 feet (ft.)) consists of an exposed low dome that is 
covered with alternating bands of relatively barren small-stoned 
terraces and thickly vegetated mats. Blowing winds keep the Monroe 
Flats mostly free of snow and ice throughout the winter, leaving the 
vegetation exposed to the abrasive action of blowing snow and ice and 
desiccating winds. The moist barren soils are also susceptible to frost 
disturbance from freeze-thaw cycles for much of the year. In this 
extreme environment of moderate solifluction and exposed topography, 
Potentilla robbinsiana fills a narrow niche: it is likely a poor 
competitor with other species, but is able to thrive in a harsh 
environment where few other species can survive (Cogbill, 1987).
    The second extant natural population occurs on Franconia Ridge, 30 
kilometers (km) (8.6 miles (mi)) to the west of the Monroe Flats 
population. Although still within the alpine zone, the habitat here is 
markedly different. A handful of plants grow at a site on the south end 
of the Franconia Ridge in crevices along the side of a vertical cliff 
just below the ridgeline. Although records indicate that the Franconia 
population was never very large, it is likely that these few plants are 
the remnants of a larger population from more suitable habitat that 
previously existed along the top of the ridge. The habitat has long 
since eroded and the plants have disappeared due to hiking activity 
along a ridgeline trail.
    Potentilla robbinsiana was listed as endangered on September 17, 
1980, and critical habitat encompassing the Monroe Flats population was 
designated at that time. Overzealous specimen collecting and 
unregulated hiker disturbance were the reasons for listing. At the 
time, the extent of the Monroe Flats population was shrinking (Graber 
and Brewer, 1985) and the Franconia Ridge population was thought to be 
    The first Robbins' Cinquefoil Recovery Plan, completed in 1983, 
featured two main objectives: to protect the existing Monroe Flats 
colony, encouraging its expansion to previously occupied habitat; and 
to establish self-maintaining populations in at least four additional 
potential habitats not occupied at the time.
    To accomplish the first objective, a scree wall surrounding the 
Monroe Flats population was constructed and posted with ``closed to 
entry'' signs, and two hiking trails that had previously traveled 
through the Monroe Flats population were relocated away from the 
population. Plants have since been successfully transplanted back into 
the habitat where the trails had resulted in the localized demise of 
the plants, primarily at the highest locations of the Monroe Flats 
population. The ability of seed to move downhill from this recolonized 
site should benefit the Monroe Flats population. In addition, personnel 
from the White Mountain

[[Page 30862]]

National Forest and Appalachian Mountain Club continue to provide 
stewardship, enforcement, and educational resources on site.
    Several tasks were necessary to meet the second objective of 
establishing four additional self-maintaining transplant populations: 
(1) Protocols were developed to monitor the Monroe Flats population to 
better understand its demographic trends and natural rates of 
recruitment and mortality, and to collect data to model minimum viable 
population size; (2) the Franconia Notch population (rediscovered in 
1984) was annually monitored; (3) micro-habitat components were 
identified and used to locate unoccupied, potentially suitable habitat; 
and (4) effective propagation and transplant techniques were developed. 
Transplant techniques varied over the years. However, the most 
successful efforts used 2-year-old plants germinated from seed, and 
transplanted with the soil media intact in mid-June to early July. Each 
year a portion of the seed collected for use in transplants is placed 
in cold storage at the New England Wildflower Society to establish a 
seed bank for this species.
    Prior to listing, there had been a number of attempts to establish 
transplant populations at approximately 20 locations throughout the 
White Mountains (Graber, 1980). Although some of these efforts showed 
signs of initial success, all but one eventually failed due to 
unsuitable habitat or because patches of suitable habitat were too 
small to support viable populations. The Appalachian Mountain Club 
Research Department reviewed these efforts, and, using the lessons 
learned, narrowed recovery efforts to four potential sites as outlined 
in the updated 1991 recovery plan: two used in the previous transplant 
efforts and two new ones.
    The experience gained from previous transplant efforts and the 
additional life history and demographic information gathered from 
ongoing research were used to determine the four most appropriate 
transplant sites. Two of these chosen sites had previously established 
transplant populations (Camel Patch and the Viewing Garden), both 
located on or near Mt. Washington, and two of the sites were unoccupied 
sites, one on Boott's Spur and one on the Franconia Range near what was 
thought potentially to be a historic site.
    Transplant efforts at these 4 locations began in 1986 with the 
introduction of 160 plants over 3 years at the Boott's Spur site. The 
site showed some initial promise, but by 1991 mortality was 100%. 
Although the Boott's Spur location was recognized as suboptimal habitat 
and had failed in a previous transplant effort, another 27 plants were 
transplanted in 1995, but survival was 0% after the first year. The new 
Franconia population was established in 1988 with 61 plants 
transplanted over 2 years and an additional 108 plants through 1996, 
the date of the last transplant efforts. Like the natural populations, 
this transplant population has fluctuated over the years, but now 
appears well established with over 331 plants counted in 1999 and good 
natural recruitment occurring. Of the transplant populations created 
prior to this species listing, one continues to persist (Camel Patch) 
and has been supplemented with additional transplants. The transplant 
records for the Camel Patch by Graber from the 1980s to 1991 were not 
available, but the Appalachian Mountain Club inventoried this site 
starting in 1984 when they located 84 plants. Only one of the 
transplant zones in this habitat showed viable natural reproduction 
occurring. An additional 6 transplants were done at this location in 
1999, which boosted this population to 23 adults, 60 juveniles, and 6 
new transplant adults. The Viewing Garden had received 19 known adult 
transplants from about 1980 through 1997. Though the adults survived 
for some time, viable natural reproduction was problematic and these 
individuals died out over time.
    The Robbins' Cinquefoil Recovery Plan: First Update, published in 
1991, retained recovery criteria for the protection of existing natural 
populations and establishing additional transplant populations, 
contained minor changes to incorporate the rediscovered natural 
Franconia population, and acknowledged that suitable additional 
unoccupied habitat may be a limiting factor. In addition to the 
protection of the natural populations, this plan determined that a 
historically occupied zone within the Monroe Flats should be 
recolonized. Transplant efforts began in 1996 to meet this objective, 
and successful juvenile recruitment has since been observed.
    To delist Potentilla robbinsiana, long-term demographic evidence 
must show that the Monroe Flats population is stable or increasing in 
size. Although counts were undertaken in 1973, 1983, and 1992, the 
methodology used to count the plants differed. The most reliable 
comparison between the three prior censuses and the most recent census 
(1999) is the number of plants found that were greater than 14 
millimeters (mm.) (0.5 in.) in stemdiameter. Comparing the number of 
plants greater than 14 mm. in diameter for censuses in 1983, 1992, and 
1999 clearly demonstrates that the Monroe Flats population has 
dramatically increased (Table 1). Transplant efforts in three different 
zones historically occupied by Potentilla robbinsiana began in 1996, 
and juvenile recruitment has been established in two of the zones.

     Table 1.--Monroe Flats Census Counts for Potentilla robbinsiana
                                                 Number of
                                                plants with    Increase
                                                   stems         from
                     Year                         greater      previous
                                                than 14 mm.     count
                                                in diameter   (Percent)
1999..........................................        4,575           36
1992..........................................        3,368          118
1983..........................................        1,547          -14
1973..........................................        1,801  ...........

    While the 1991 recovery plan still calls for the establishment of 
four transplant populations, it also recognizes that suitable habitat 
may be a limiting factor, and requires that only two of the four 
transplant populations need to be viable. Boott's Spur has subsequently 
been dropped as a result of the unsuccessful transplant efforts 
resulting in 100% mortality. The Viewing Garden also reached 100% 
mortality in 1998. There are no plans to reestablish a population at 
this location because the suitable habitat is very limited and cannot 
support more than a few individual plants that are unlikely to persist 
under natural population fluctuations. Biologists familiar with this 
species are confident that little if any suitable habitat in the White 
Mountains remains to be discovered (K. Kimball, Appalachian Mountain 
Club, pers. comm. 2000). Therefore, given that the discovery of 
additional suitable habitat for the establishment of new transplant 
attempts is unlikely, recent efforts have focused on ensuring viable 
populations at the two remaining transplant locations.
    Both the Camel Patch and Franconia Ridge transplant populations 
have persisted for more than 10 years. Both have juvenile recruitment 
and successful second generation seedling establishment. Transplant 
and/or monitoring efforts for these populations continue on a near 
annual basis (Kimball, 1998). The high level of soil movement 
throughout Camel Patch makes much of the site unsuitable for transplant 
efforts, nevertheless a population located along the edge of the 
encircling vegetation is well established. The Franconia Ridge 
population has increased dramatically in recent years and is now well 
established. Although

[[Page 30863]]

precise historic records are lacking, even if the present Franconia 
transplant population happens to be located at a historical location, 
the amount of suitable habitat would eventually limit the population 
    An 11-year demographic study, funded by us, the U.S. Forest 
Service, and Appalachian Mountain Club, was conducted along four 
permanent transects within the Monroe Flats population, in part, to 
determine a minimum viable population for the transplant populations 
based on the stage-based survival of the Monroe Flats population. The 
study recommended a minimum viable population of 50 plants (Iszard-
Crowley and Kimball, 1998). Both the Franconia transplant location with 
a current population of 331 plants and the Camel Patch location with a 
current population of 87 plants meet this criteria.

Previous Federal Action

    Section 12 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 directed the 
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to prepare a report on those 
plants considered to be endangered, threatened, or extinct. This 
report, designated as House Document No. 94-51, was presented to 
Congress on January 9, 1975. On July 1, 1975, the Director published a 
notice in the Federal Register (40 FR 27823) of his acceptance of the 
report of the Smithsonian Institution as a petition within the context 
of section 4(c)(2) of the Act, and of his intention thereby to review 
the status of the plant taxa named within. On June 16, 1976, the 
Service published a proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register (41 FR 
24523) to determine approximately 1,700 vascular plant species to be 
endangered species pursuant to section 4 of the Act. Comments on this 
proposal were summarized in the April 26, 1978, Federal Register 
publication of a final rule, which also determined 13 plants to be 
either endangered or threatened species (43 FR 17909). Potentilla 
robbinsiana was included in the Smithsonian's report, the July 1, 1975, 
notice of review, and the June 16, 1976, proposal.
    The amendment of the Act in 1978 required that all proposals over 2 
years old be withdrawn. A 1-year grace period was give to proposals 
already over 2 years old. On December 10, 1979, we published a notice 
withdrawing the June 16, 1976, proposal to list Potentilla robbinsiana.
    Based on sufficient new information, we again proposed Potentilla 
robbinsiana for listing on March 24, 1980, and proposed its critical 
habitat for the first time (45 FR 19004). A public meeting was held on 
this proposal on April 28, 1980, in Concord, New Hampshire. On 
September 17, 1980, we published a final rule in the Federal Register 
(45 FR 61944) listing Potentilla robbinsiana as endangered and 
designating critical habitat.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and regulations (50 CFR part 424) promulgated 
to implement the listing provision of the Act, set forth the procedures 
for listing, reclassifying, and delisting species on the Federal lists. 
A species may be listed if one or more of the five factors described in 
section 4(a)(1) of the Act threatens the continued existence of the 
species. A species may be delisted according to 50 CFR 424.11(d), if 
the best scientific and commercial data available substantiate that the 
species is neither endangered nor threatened (1) because of extinction, 
(2) because of recovery, or (3) because the original data for 
classification of the species were in error.
    After a thorough review of all available information, we determined 
that substantial Potentilla robbinsiana recovery has taken place since 
listing in 1980. We have also determined that none of the five factors 
identified in section 4(a)(1) of the Act, and discussed below, are 
currently affecting the species in such a way that the species is 
endangered (in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range) or threatened (likely to become endangered in the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range). These factors and their application to Robbin's cinquefoil, 
Potentilla robbinsiana (Torrey and Grey, 1840), are as follows:

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

    Potentilla robbinsiana utilizes a substrate described as a shallow 
loamy sand topped with a stony, pavement-like surface. This stony 
surface layer protects the soil from being either blown or washed away. 
The 1980 final listing rule determined that the plant and its habitat 
were damaged by trampling from hikers. Hiking through the habitat is 
unimpeded due to the lack of most vegetation. Because the plants are 
small, it is easy for hiker boots to crush adult, juvenile, and 
seedling plants.
    Since listing, the threat from trampling has been reduced by 
rerouting trails and protecting habitat. The section of the Appalachian 
Trail that bisected the Monroe Flats population is referred to locally 
as the Crawford Path, named after Abel Crawford who constructed the 
path in 1819. In 1915, the Appalachian Mountain Club constructed Lakes 
of the Clouds Hut, 270 m. (295 yards (yd.)) to the north of the trail. 
The Crawford Path was relocated at this time to bring the trail by the 
Hut, and although the trail was no longer directly bisecting Potentilla 
robbinsiana habitat, it still went through the northwest corner of the 
critical habitat. In 1983, the Crawford Path and Dry River Trails were 
rerouted a second time in response to the Federal listing, to move the 
trails outside of the plant's critical habitat. A low scree wall was 
constructed in conjunction with the trail relocation, around the 
critical habitat, and has been particularly effective in places where 
the trail abuts critical habitat. Signs posted around the Monroe Flats 
population notify hikers that there is a federally listed species 
present and no admittance is allowed without a permit. These signs are 
replaced as needed. Hiker traffic and trespassers into the critical 
habitat were recorded by pressure plates during 1985 to assess the 
effectiveness of hiker management. The plates were operated from June 
through October 1985 and checked several times weekly. Of 4,286 hikers 
counted over 115 days the counters were functional, the trespass rate 
was 2 percent (Kimball and Paul, 1986). The target compliance level 
established by the 1983 recovery plan was 95 percent of the hikers not 
trespassing into the critical habitat, an objective that has been 
maintained or exceeded since 1981. Outreach has also been a strong 
recovery component for ensuring hiker compliance of no trespassing into 
the Potentilla robbinsiana habitat. A naturalist is stationed at the 
Lakes of the Clouds Hut throughout the summer. The Hut naturalist is 
available during the day to answer questions and give interpretive 
talks regarding Potentilla robbinsiana. The naturalist and other Hut 
staff are also instrumental in monitoring the Monroe Flats population 
for human disturbance.
    In 1973, prior to listing, the Monroe Flats population contained 
approximately 1,801 individual plants larger than 14 mm. As of 1999, 
this population included approximately 4,575 individuals of similar 
size. This represents a greater than 250% increase in this population. 
Counting plants of all sizes (seedlings to adults) in 1999, the 
established population size was 14,195 individuals.
    The second natural population is near the Appalachian Trail on 
Franconia Ridge. The location of this population has been purposefully 
kept undisclosed

[[Page 30864]]

and is presently out of the way of the average hiking public.
    Records indicated the extant Franconia Ridge population was never 
very large. Nevertheless, it is considered to be a reproducing 
population, with 18 individual plants consisting of 4 adults, 13 
juveniles, and 1 seedling, as of 1999.

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

    The 1980 final listing identified that the collecting of specimens 
for herbaria probably contributed to the loss of Potentilla robbinsiana 
and possibly the cause for the extirpation of one of the Franconia 
sites (Steele, 1964). It was noted that over 40 herbarium sheets 
containing nearly 100 plants (6 percent of the known mature population 
at the time of listing) were counted in various New England herbaria 
(Graber, 1980). Cogbill's more recent paper (1993) documents the 
collection of over 850 plants in herbaria collections worldwide, which 
represents one of the most extensive collections known for a single 
species. However, collection of the species has, to date, not been a 
threat. Commercial trade in the species occurred in the early 1900s but 
has not occurred since and is not expected to occur in the future. 
Import or export of this species also is not anticipated. Therefore, 
taking of Potentilla robbinsiana for these purposes is not considered 
to be a threat.

C. Disease and Predation

    This species is not known to be threatened by disease or predation.

D. The inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms.

    Potentilla robbinsiana is currently afforded limited protection by 
the Endangered Species Act. Section 9 of the Act prohibits the removal 
and possession of endangered plants from lands under Federal 
jurisdiction and the malicious damage and destruction of endangered 
plants in such areas, and the damage or destruction of endangered 
plants from any other area in knowing violation of any State law or 
regulation, or in the course of a violation of State criminal trespass 
law. Section 7 of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that 
their actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of listed 
species or destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat.
    Section 7(a)(1) requires Federal agencies to carry out programs for 
the conservation of threatened and endangered species. The entire range 
of Potentilla robbinsiana occurs on Forest Service lands. Forest 
Service regulations prohibit removing, destroying, or damaging any 
plant that is classified as a threatened, endangered, rare or unique 
species (36 CFR 261.9). On December 2, 1994, we, the Forest Service, 
and the White Mountain National Forest, signed a Memorandum of 
Understanding for the conservation of Potentilla robbinsiana. The MOU 
states that the Forest Service agrees to carry out specific management 
measures, with our assistance, both through the recovery period, and if 
and when Potentilla robbinsiana is removed from the list of endangered 
and threatened plants. The MOU further states that the change in the 
species' legal status will not affect the Forest Service's commitment 
to implement management programs to promote long-term conservation of 
this sensitive species regardless of its standing under the Federal 
    Potentilla robbinsiana does appear on the Forest Service Region 9 
list of ``species of concern'' and on the New Hampshire State list, 
although State legislation currently offers it no protection. However, 
the State of New Hampshire has a cooperative plant agreement with us as 
specified under section 6(c)(2) of the Act that allows the State to 
apply for funds from the Service to aid in the conservation of 
threatened, endangered, or rare plants.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting its Continued Existence

    Recovery efforts have been directed toward protection and 
environmental education. A number of approaches have been used to 
educate the hiking public and the scientific community about Potentilla 
robbinsiana. Providing information to the public regarding the species' 
biology and management satisfies their curiosity and increases their 
willingness to participate in protection of this species. These efforts 
include a permanent display and presentations about Potentilla 
robbinsiana by the seasonal Appalachian Mountain Club naturalist at 
Lakes of the Clouds Hut.
    The 1980 final listing rule mentioned that Potentilla robbinsiana 
is vulnerable to the harsh climate in which it lives. The weather 
regime experienced by the species is highly variable from year to year. 
During demographic studies over the past 16 years it has been observed 
that late frosts in June have the potential to damage flowers and 
greatly reduce the seed crop for that year. By virtue of a deep 
taproot, the species appears to be adapted to a moderate level of 
frost-heaving, a stress that may limit competing species. At the same 
time, it cannot tolerate frost induced movement of more that 18 mm/yr, 
or frost action sufficient to produce stone stripes or other patterned 
ground (Cogbill, 1987). Overall, however, this species is now thriving 
in a very localized part of the alpine zone of the White Mountains, and 
adapts to the harsh climate conditions, where few other species 

Summary of Status

    Delisting Potentilla robbinsiana, as described in the 1991 updated 
recovery plan, requires that (1) four transplant colonies are viable, 
with self-reproducing capability; (2) the Monroe Flats population 
demonstrates population stability for a full generation; and (3) the 
two natural existing populations are protected from human disturbance. 
This delisting objective was based on the best information available at 
that time. The habitat of the two existing natural populations is 
protected from human disturbance, and the Monroe Flats population is 
considered viable and increasing. Though the recovery plan calls for 
the establishment of four transplant populations, it also recognizes 
that suitable habitat may be a limiting factor. We have determined that 
at the two sites where transplanting has proven to be unsuccessful, 
Boott's Spur and the Viewing Garden, no further attempts to reestablish 
populations will be considered. Discovery of additional suitable 
habitat for the establishment of new transplant populations is 
unlikely, so recent efforts are focusing on maintaining viable 
populations at the two remaining transplant locations. Two of the three 
delisting components have been met. It is unlikely additional habitat 
for future transplants will be found, and achieving the third component 
is improbable. 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: The threats to the species have been reduced or removed, the 
number of plants is increasing, the species is not in imminent danger 
of extinction, and the species appears unlikely to become endangered 
within the foreseeable future.

Effects of This Rule

    If finalized, the proposed action would remove Potentilla 
robbinsiana from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants. 
Furthermore, the critical habitat for this plant, one location in the 
White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire (50 CFR 17.96(a)), would 
be removed. The

[[Page 30865]]

prohibitions and conservation measures provided by the Act would no 
longer apply to this species. Therefore, taking, interstate commerce, 
import, and export of Potentilla robbinsiana would no longer be 
prohibited under the Act. In addition, Federal agencies would no longer 
be required to consult with us under section 7 of the Act to insure 
that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out, is not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of Potentilla robbinsiana or destroy 
or adversely modify designated critical habitat.
    The take and use of Potentilla robbinsiana must comply with 
appropriate Forest Service regulations, since the entire population 
lies within the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.

Future Conservation Measures

    Section 4(g)(1) of the Act requires that the Secretary of the 
Interior, through the Service, implement a monitoring program for not 
less than 5 years for all species that have been recovered and 
delisted. The purpose of this requirement is to develop a program that 
detects the failure of any delisted species to sustain itself without 
the protective measures provided by the Act. If at any time during the 
5-year monitoring program, data indicate that protective status under 
the Act should be reinstated, we can initiate listing procedures, 
including, if appropriate, emergency listing.


    Our Northeast Region will coordinate with the Forest Service, the 
Appalachian Mountain Club, and State resource agencies to develop and 
implement an effective 5-year monitoring program to track the 
population status of Potentilla robbinsiana. To detect any changes in 
the status of Potentilla robbinsiana, we will use, to the fullest 
extent possible, information routinely collected by the Appalachian 
Mountain Club Research Department and the Forest Service. During the 
fifth year of the 5-year monitoring period, a quantitative population 
assessment of the Monroe Flats population will be conducted using 
transects to further evaluate the stability and health of this 
    It is believed that the two transplanted sites have reached viable 
population status. However, during the required 5-year monitoring 
period, transplants at the Camel Patch site will continue annually to 
supplement the current population or until the habitat is thought to be 
saturated with plants.
    If we determine at the end of the mandatory 5-year monitoring 
period, and the fifth year population assessment of Monroe Flats, that 
recovery is complete, and factors that led to the listing of Potentilla 
robbinsiana, or any new factors, remain sufficiently reduced or 
eliminated, monitoring may be reduced or terminated. If data show that 
the species is declining or if one or more factors that have the 
potential to cause a decline are identified, we will continue 
monitoring beyond the 5-year period and may modify the monitoring 
program based on an evaluation of the results of the initial 5-year 
monitoring program, or reinitiate listing if necessary.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will 
be as accurate and as effective 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. Comments should be sent to our 
Northeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES section). We particularly seek 
comments concerning; biological, commercial trade, or other relevant 
data concerning any threat, or lack thereof, to this species; and 
information and comments pertaining to the proposed monitoring program 
contained in this proposal.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. There may also be circumstances in which 
we would withhold from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity as 
allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, 
you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. 
However, we will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. 
Comments and materials received, as well as supporting information used 
to write this rule, will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.
    The final decision on this proposal for Potentilla robbinsiana will 
take into consideration the comments received by us during the comment 
period. 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 received within 45 days of the date of 
publication of this proposal. Such requests must be made in writing and 
sent to our Northeast Regional Office identified in the ADDRESSES 
section at the beginning of this proposed rule.

Executive Order 12866

    This proposed rule is not subject to review by the Office of 
Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The OMB regulations at 5 CFR 1320, which implement provisions of 
the Paperwork Reduction Act, require that Federal agencies obtain 
approval from OMB before collecting information from the public. The 
OMB regulations at 5 CFR 1320.3(c) define a collection of information 
as the obtaining of information by or for an agency by means of 
identical questions proposed to, or identical reporting, record 
keeping, or disclosure requirements imposed on, 10 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. For purposes of this 
definition, employees of the Federal Government are not included.
    This rule does not include any collections of information that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Potentilla 
robbinsiana occurs entirely on lands administered by the Forest Service 
and only in one State, New Hampshire. The information needed to monitor 
the status of Potentilla robbinsiana following delisting will be 
collected primarily by a limited number of personnel from the Forest 
Service and the Appalachian Mountain Club. We do not anticipate a need 
to request data or other information from 10 or more persons during any 
12-month period to satisfy monitoring information needs. If it becomes 
necessary to collect information from 10 or more non-Federal 
individuals, groups, or organizations per year, we will first obtain 
information collection approval from OMB.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that we do not need to prepare an Environmental 
Assessment, as defined under the authority of the National 

[[Page 30866]]

Policy Act of 1969, in connection with regulations adopted pursuant to 
section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons 
for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 
FR 49244).

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited herein is available upon 
request from our Northeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES section).


    The primary author of this notice is Diane Lynch, Endangered 
Species Biologist (See ADDRESSES section), and Doug Weihrauch, staff 
scientist for the Appalachian Mountain Club Research Department, 
provided assistance with the summary of the biological record for this 

Lists 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 propose to amend part 
17, subpart B of chapter I, title 50 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. 17.12  [Amended]

    2. Section 17.12(h) is amended by removing the entry for 
``Potentilla robbinsiana, Robbins' cinquefoil' under ``FLOWERING 
PLANTS,'' from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants.

Sec. 17.96  [Amended]

    Section 17.96(a) is amended by removing the critical habitat entry 
for ``Potentilla robbinsiana, (Robbin's cinquefoil)'' which is under 
Family Rosaceae.

    Dated: May 12, 2001.
Marshall Jones, Jr.,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 01-14453 Filed 6-7-01; 8:45 am]