[Federal Register: December 5, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 234)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 72407-72408]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI25

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determinations of 
Prudency for Two Mammal and Four Bird Species in Guam and the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Designations of 
Critical Habitat for One Mammal and Two Bird Species

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the draft economic analysis of the proposed 
designations of critical habitat for the Mariana fruit bat and the 
Micronesian kingfisher on Guam, and the Mariana crow on Guam and Rota. 
The proposed designations of critical habitat were published in the 
Federal Register on October 15, 2002 (67 FR 63738). The draft economic 
analysis shows that over a 10-year period, the estimated total direct 
cost on Guam would be approximately $1.4 million and the estimated 
total direct cost on Rota would be approximately $149,000. We are now 
providing notice of extending the comment period to allow peer 
reviewers and 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 extended comment 
period and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

DATES: We will accept public comments until January 6, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and information should be submitted to 
Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands 
Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., P.O. Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850-0001. 
Copies of the draft economic analysis are available on the Internet at 
http://pacificislands.fws.gov or by request from the Field Supervisor 
at the above address and telephone 808/541-3441. Copies of the draft 
economic analysis also are available on Guam at the Nieves M. Flores 
Memorial Library, East O'Brien Drive, Hagatna, Guam, phone 671/475-
4753, and on Rota at the Northern Marianas College, Songsong, Rota, 
telephone 670/532-9477. For further instructions on commenting, refer 
to Public Comments Solicited section of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Henson, Field Supervisor, Pacific 
Islands Office, at the above address (telephone: 808/541-3441; 
facsimile: 808/541-3470).



    A review of the status of 12 Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands (CNMI) vertebrate species was published on May 18, 1979 
(44 FR 29128). This review, which led to the listing of nine species in 
1984, resulted from three separate petitions to the Service filed by 
three Governors or Acting Governors of Guam in 1978, 1979, and 1981, 
and a fourth petition filed by the International Council for Bird 
Preservation in 1980. In a proposed rule published on November 29, 1983 
(48 FR 53729), the Service determined endangered status for 9 of the 12 
species in the 4 petitions. The final listing rule for the nine 
species, including the six species treated in the current proposed 
rule, was published on August 27, 1984 (49 FR 33881).
    We published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for 
these six endangered species on Guam in the Federal Register on June 
14, 1991 (56 FR 27485). However, we withdrew this proposed rule on 
April 4, 1994 (59 FR 15696), because most of the lands proposed as 
critical habitat had by this time been incorporated into the Guam 
National Wildlife Refuge overlay lands. The Service, therefore, 
determined that critical habitat designation was not prudent because it 
would not provide these species with any benefit beyond that already 
provided by the refuge overlay lands.
    Since the withdrawal of the proposed critical habitat, several 
judicial decisions in court cases examining critical habitat 
determinations have rejected rationales used by the Service in ``not 
prudent'' findings. These cases included Natural Resources Defense 
Council v. U.S. Department of the Interior, 113 F. 3d 1121 (9th Cir. 
1997) involving the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher, and 
Conservation Council for Hawaii v. Babbitt, 2 F. Supp.2d 1280 (D. Haw. 
1998) involving 245 listed plant species. The decisions in these cases 
rejected the Service's rationales of ``increased threat'' and ``no 
benefit'' in the case of the gnatcatcher, and of ``increased threat,'' 
``no benefit on private lands,'' and ``no additional benefit on federal 
lands'' in the case of the Hawaiian plants.
    On April 3, 2000, the Marianas Audubon Society and the Center for 
Biological Diversity filed a suit to challenge the Service's 1994 
withdrawal of critical habitat for the six species. On September 7, 
2000, the Service filed a motion to voluntarily remand the withdrawal 
and non-prudency decision based on the subsequent court decisions. This 
motion set a deadline of June 3, 2003, for the Service to determine 
prudency and designate final critical habitat, if prudent, for these 
six species. On January 25, 2002, the Government of Guam filed a motion 
for preliminary injunction against the Service to prevent our re-
consideration of the 1994 ``not prudent'' critical habitat 
determinations for the six species. On February 8, 2002, the Service 
filed its opposition to the Government of Guam's motion for preliminary 
injunction. On April 16, 2002, the Guam District Court dismissed the 
Government of Guam's motion for preliminary injunction and issued a 
ruling upholding the settlement based on a voluntary remand.
    On December 7, 2001, we mailed letters to four major landowners 
(Chamorro Land Trust Commission, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Guam 
National Wildlife Refuge) on Guam informing them that the Service was 
in the process of determining the prudency of designating critical 
habitat for the little Mariana fruit bat, Mariana fruit bat, Mariana 
crow, Guam broadbill, Micronesian kingfisher, and the bridled white-eye 
and requested from them information on management of lands that 
currently support or recently

[[Page 72408]]

(within the past 30 years) supported these six species. The letters 
contained a fact sheet describing the six listed species and critical 
habitat, the 1991 proposed rule to designate critical habitat, the 1994 
withdrawal of the proposed rule, and a questionnaire designed to gather 
information about land management practices, which we requested be 
returned to us by January 14, 2002. We received three responses to our 
landowner mailing with varying types and amounts of information on 
current land management activities. Some responses included natural 
resource management plans, cooperative agreements, and descriptions of 
management activities such as brown treesnake and feral ungulate 
control. The information provided in the responses was considered and 
incorporated into the proposed rule published in the Federal Register 
on October 15, 2002 (67 FR 63738).
    We propose designating approximately 10,053 hectares (ha) (24,840 
acres (ac)) in two units on the island of Guam for the Mariana fruit 
bat and the Micronesian kingfisher. For the Mariana crow, we propose 
designating approximately 9,325 ha (23,042 ac) in two units on the 
island of Guam and approximately 2,462 ha (6,084 ac) in one unit on the 
island of Rota in the CNMI. On Guam, the boundaries of the proposed 
critical habitat units for the Mariana fruit bat and Micronesian 
kingfisher are identical and the boundaries of the proposed critical 
habitat for the Mariana crow are contained within these identical 
boundaries. On Rota, critical habitat is proposed only for the Mariana 
    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. We have prepared a draft economic 
analysis of the proposed critical habitat designation. The draft 
economic analysis is now available on the Internet and from the mailing 
address in the Public Comments Solicited section below.
    We are now announcing the availability of the draft economic 
analysis and the extension of the comment period for the proposed 
designation of critical habitat for the Mariana fruit bat and the 
Micronesian kingfisher on Guam, and the Mariana crow on Guam and Rota. 
We will accept public comments on the proposal and the associated draft 
economic analysis until the date specified in DATES. The extension of 
the comment period gives all interested parties the opportunity to 
comment simultaneously on the proposal and the associated draft 
economic analysis.

Public Comments Solicited

    We are specifically requesting comments on the following elements 
of the draft economic analysis:
    (1) Whether indirect economic costs, as discussed in sections 6.3-
1.4 and 6.3-1.5 of the draft economic analysis, are likely to be 
incurred, and if so, by whom and in what amounts;
    (2) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation 
of critical habitat, as discussed in sections 6.3-1.4 and 6.3-2.2 of 
the draft economic analysis, and how the consequences of such 
reactions, if likely to occur, would relate to the benefits of the 
proposed critical habitat designation;
    (3) The extent to which the description of the economic costs of 
the proposed critical habitat designation to the United States Navy and 
Air Force are complete and accurate; and
    (4) The extent to which military training and readiness may be 
impacted by the proposed critical habitat designation, as discussed 
generally in sections 6.3-1.2 and 6.3-1.3 of the draft economic 
    We will accept written comments and information during this 
extended comment period. If you wish to comment, you may submit your 
comments and materials concerning this proposal by any of several 
    (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., PO Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850-0001.
    (2) You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: Guam--
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-AI25'' and 
your name and return address in your e-mail message.
    (3) You may hand-deliver comments to our Honolulu Fish and Wildlife 
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
 or by request from the Field Supervisor at the 
address under ADDRESSES and phone number under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT above.


    The primary author of this notice is Eric VanderWerf (see 


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

    Dated: November 26, 2002.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-30802 Filed 12-4-02; 8:45 am]