[Federal Register: August 6, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 151)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 40960-40962]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AG99

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of 
Comment Period and Notice of Availability of the Draft Economic 
Analysis for Proposed Critical Habitat for the Oahu Elepaio

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period and notice of 
availability of draft economic analysis.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of the draft economic analysis for the proposed 
determination of critical habitat for the Oahu elepaio (Chasiempis 
sandwichensis ibidis), a bird, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. We are 
also providing notice of the reopening of the public comment period for 
the proposal to designate critical habitat for this bird to allow all 
interested parties to comment simultaneously on the proposed rule and 
the associated draft economic analysis. Comments previously submitted 
need not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public 
record as part of this reopened public comment period and will be fully 
considered in the final rule.

DATES: We will accept public comments until September 5, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and information should be submitted to 
Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife

[[Page 40961]]

Service, Pacific Islands Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., P.O. Box 50088, 
Honolulu, HI 96850-0001. For electronic mail address and further 
instructions on commenting, refer to Public Comments Solicited section 
of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Henson, Field Supervisor, or Eric 
VanderWerf, Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the above 
address (telephone: 808/541-3441; facsimile: 808/541-3470).



    The Oahu elepaio is a small forest-dwelling bird, and is a member 
of the monarch flycatcher family Monarchidae. It is dark brown above 
and white below, with light brown streaks on the breast. The tail is 
long and often held up at an angle. Adults have conspicuous white wing 
bars, a white rump, and white tips on the tail feathers. Oahu elepaio 
inhabit a variety of forest types, but are most common in riparian 
vegetation along streambeds and in mesic forest with a tall canopy and 
a well-developed understory. They are not currently found in very wet, 
stunted forest on windswept summits or in very dry shrub land, but 
these areas may be used by dispersing individuals. Forest structure 
appears to be more important to elepaio than plant species composition, 
and unlike many Hawaiian forest birds, elepaio are found in disturbed 
forest composed of introduced plants. Historically the elepaio was 
common and widespread on Oahu, but it has declined seriously and the 
current population is approximately 1,982 birds distributed in six core 
subpopulations and several smaller subpopulations.
    We were petitioned by Mr. Vaughn Sherwood on March 22, 1994, to 
list the Oahu elepaio as an endangered or threatened species with 
critical habitat. The November 15, 1994, Animal Notice of Review (59 FR 
58991) classified the Oahu elepaio (then Chasiempis sandwichensis gayi) 
as a category 1 candidate. Category 1 candidates were those species for 
which we had sufficient data in our possession to support a listing 
proposal. On June 12, 1995 (60 FR 30827), we published a 90-day 
petition finding stating that the petition presented substantial 
information that listing may be warranted. Category 1 candidates were 
those taxa for which we had on file sufficient information of 
biological vulnerability and threats to support preparation of listing 
proposals, but issuance of the proposed rule was precluded by other 
pending listing proposals of higher priority. In our February 28, 1966, 
Federal Register Notice of Review of Plant and Animal Taxa that are 
Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species (61 FR 
7595), we discontinued designation of multiple categories of 
candidates. Only those taxa meeting the definition of former category 1 
are now considered candidates for listing. On October 6, 1998 (63 FR 
53623), we published the proposed rule to list the Oahu elepaio as an 
endangered species. Because C. s. gayi is a synonym of C. s. ibidis, 
the proposed rule constituted the final 12-month finding for the 
petitioned action. On April 18, 2000 (65 FR 20760), we published the 
final rule to list the Oahu elepaio as an endangered species.
    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 designate critical habitat at the time 
a species is determined to be endangered or threatened. Our regulations 
(50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) also state that 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 activity and the 
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. In the proposed listing 
rule we indicated that designation of critical habitat for the Oahu 
elepaio was not prudent because we believed a critical habitat 
designation would not provide any additional benefit beyond that 
provided through listing as endangered. Based partly on comments we 
received on the proposed listing rule and on recent court rulings which 
address the prudency standard, in the final listing rule we determined 
that a critical habitat designation for the Oahu elepaio was prudent 
because such a designation could benefit the species beyond listing as 
endangered by extending protection under section 7 of the Act to 
currently unoccupied habitat and by providing informational and 
educational benefits.
    Although we determined in the final listing rule that critical 
habitat designation for the Oahu elepaio would be prudent, we also 
indicated in the final listing rule that we were not able to develop a 
proposed critical habitat designation for the Oahu elepaio at that time 
due to budgetary and workload constraints. However, on June 28, 2000, 
the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii 
established, in the case of Conservation Council for Hawaii v. Babbitt, 
CIV. NO. 00-00001 HG-BMK, a timetable to designate critical habitat for 
the Oahu elepaio, and ordered that the Service publish the final 
critical habitat designation by October 31, 2001.
    On November 9, 2000, we mailed letters to 32 landowners on Oahu 
informing them that the Service was in the process of designating 
critical habitat for the Oahu elepaio and requesting from them 
information on management of lands that currently or recently (within 
the past 25 years) supported Oahu elepaio. The letters contained a fact 
sheet describing the Oahu elepaio and critical habitat, a map showing 
the historic and current range of the Oahu elepaio, and a questionnaire 
designed to gather information about land management practices, which 
we requested be returned to us by November 27, 2000. We received 11 
responses to our landowner mailing with varying types and amounts of 
information on current land management activities. Some responses 
included detailed management plans, provided new information on 
locations where elepaio have been observed recently, and described 
management activities such as fencing, hunting, public access, fire 
management, methods for controlling invasive weeds and introduced 
predators, and collaboration with conservation researchers. In 
addition, we met with several landowners and managers, including the 
U.S. Army and the Hawaii State Division of Forestry and Wildlife, to 
obtain more specific information on management activities and 
suitability of certain habitat areas for elepaio. The information 
provided in the responses and during public meetings was considered and 
incorporated into the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for 
the Oahu elepaio published in the Federal Register on June 6, 2001 (66 
FR 30372).
    We have proposed to designate critical habitat consisting of five 
units whose boundaries encompass a total area of approximately 26,853 
hectares (ha) (66,354 acres (ac)) on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
    Critical habitat receives protection from destruction or adverse 
modification through required consultation under section 7 of the Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) with regard to actions carried out, funded, or 
authorized by a Federal agency. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires 
that the Secretary shall designate or revise critical habitat based 
upon the best scientific and commercial data available, and after 
taking into consideration the economic impact of specifying any 
particular area as critical habitat. Based upon the previously

[[Page 40962]]

published proposal to designate critical habitat for the Oahu elepaio, 
and comments received during the previous comment periods, we have 
prepared a draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat 
designations. The draft economic analysis is available at the Internet 
and mailing addresses in the Public Comments Solicited section below.

Public Comments Solicited

    We will accept written comments and information during this 
reopened public comment period. If you wish to comment, you may submit 
your comments and materials concerning the draft economic analysis and 
proposed rule by any of several methods:
    (1) You may submit written comments and information to the Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Office, 300 
Ala Moana Blvd., P.O. Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850-0001.
    (2) You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: 
FW1PIE_OahuElep_crithab@r1.fws.gov. If you submit comments by e-mail, 
please submit them as an ASCII file and avoid the use of special 
characters and any form of encryption. Please also include ``Attn: RIN 
1018-AG99'' and your name and return address in your e-mail message. If 
you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have received 
your e-mail message, contact us directly by calling our Pacific Islands 
Office at telephone number 808/541-3441.
    (3) You may hand-deliver comments to our Pacific Islands Office at 
the address given above.
    Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of the proposal to designate critical 
habitat, will be available for inspection, by appointment, during 
normal business hours at the address under (1) above. Copies of the 
draft economic analysis are available on the Internet at http://
pacificislands.fws.gov/wesa/endspindex.html or by request from the 
Field Supervisor at the address and phone number under (1 and 2) above.


    The primary author of this notice is John Nuss, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232-4181.


    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: July 27, 2001.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 01-19766 Filed 8-3-01; 8:45 am]