[Federal Register: September 27, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 186)]
[Page 57712-57713]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 57712]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a Technical Agency Draft Recovery Plan 
for the Endangered Catesbaea melanocarpa for Review and Comment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability and public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the technical agency draft recovery plan for Catesbaea melanocarpa 
(no common name). Catesbaea melanocarpa is extremely rare and is known 
from Puerto Rico, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), Barbuda, 
Antigua, and Guadeloupe. The technical agency draft recovery plan 
includes interim recovery objectives and criteria to be met in order to 
downlist Catesbaea melanocarpa to threatened under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Given the limited information on 
the current number of individuals throughout the species range and the 
limited knowledge on biology, habitat requirements and genetic 
information, we recognize the need to generate scientific information 
to better address the threats and limiting factors to this species and 
to develop specific recovery criteria. Therefore, the interim goal of 
this recovery plan is to protect and enhance existing populations to 
the point that downlisting to threatened is warranted. We are 
soliciting review and comment on this technical agency draft recovery 
plan from local, State, Territorial, and Federal agencies, and the 

DATES: In order to be considered, we must receive comments on the 
technical agency draft recovery plan on or before November 26, 2004.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review this technical agency draft recovery 
plan, you may obtain a copy by contacting the Boquer[oacute]n Field 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 491, Boquer[oacute]n, 
Puerto Rico 00622 (telephone 787-851-7297), or by visiting our recovery 
plan Web site at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans. 

If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments by one of the 
following methods:
    1. You may submit written comments and materials to the Field 
Supervisor, at the above address.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments to our Boqueron Field 
Office, at the above address, or fax your comments to (787) 851-7440.
    Comments and materials received are available for public inspection 
on request, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marelisa Rivera at the above address 
(Telephone 787-851-7297, ext. 231).



    We listed Catesbaea melanocarpa as endangered on March 17, 1999, 
under the Act (64 FR 13116). Catesbaea melanocarpa is a small spiny 
shrub of the family Rubiacea. It belongs to a genus which consists of 
ten or more species of spiny shrubs. It is a branching shrub which may 
reach approximately 9.8 feet (ft) (3.0 meters (m)) in height. Spines 
are borne at every internode (space between nodes) and are from 0.39 to 
0.78 inches (in) (1.00 to 2.00 centimeters (cm)) long. Leaves are 
small, from 0.19 to 1.0 in (5.00 to 25.00 millimeters (mm)) long, and 
0.07 to 0.58 in (2.00 to 15.00 mm) wide, often opposite. The flowers 
are white, solitary or paired, and almost lacking a stalk in the axils. 
The petals are united in the form of a funnel and measure from 0.31 to 
0.39 in (8.00 to 10.00 mm) long. The fruit is black, spherical, and 
0.19 to 0.23 in (5.00 to 6.00 mm) in diameter. The two-celled fruit 
contains five to seven seeds in each cell.
    Catesbaea melanocarpa is extremely rare. In the U.S. Caribbean, it 
is known from only one individual in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico and 
approximately 100 individuals in one location in St. Croix, USVI. All 
known individuals in Puerto Rico and the USVI occur on privately-owned 
lands. The species is also found on the islands of Barbuda, Antigua, 
and Guadeloupe; however, little is known of their status on these 
    Because so few individuals of Catesbaea melanocarpa are known to 
occur in limited areas, the risk of extinction is extremely high. Both 
known locations are privately-owned and subject to pressure for 
development. The location in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, is currently 
proposed for a high density residential/tourist development. In St. 
Croix, the population is subject to impacts from intense grazing 
activities and the land is also subject to pressure for a golf course 
development. Catastrophic natural events, such as hurricanes, may 
dramatically affect forest species composition and structure, felling 
large trees and creating numerous canopy gaps. The population in St. 
Croix lost individuals following the passing of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. 
Deforestation for residential and tourist development may also pose 
imminent threats to the survival of the species. Fire may also be a 
threat to the known population on the island of St. Croix. Fire is not 
a natural component of subtropical dry forest in Puerto Rico and Virgin 
Islands. Species found in this type of forest are not fire adapted.
    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant to the point 
where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its ecosystem is 
a primary goal of the endangered species program. To help guide this 
recovery effort, we are preparing recovery plans for most listed 
species. Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for 
conservation of the species, establish criteria for downlisting or 
delisting, and estimate time and cost for implementing recovery 
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species, unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires us to provide a 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all information presented 
during a public comment period prior to approval of each new or revised 
recovery plan. We and other Federal agencies will take these comments 
into account in the course of implementing approved recovery plans.
    Given the limited information on the current number of individuals 
throughout the species range and the limited knowledge on biology, 
habitat requirements and genetic information, we recognize the need to 
generate scientific information to better address the threats and 
limiting factors to this species and to develop specific recovery 
criteria. Therefore, the interim goal of this recovery plan is to 
protect and enhance existing populations to the point that downlisting 
to threatened is warranted. In order to achieve our interim recovery 
goal, we believe it will be necessary to protect and enhance habitat 
known to support existing populations through landowner conservation 
agreements or easements, enhance existing populations, establish new 
self-sustaining populations within known range of the species, and 
conduct research on key biological and genetic issues, including 
effective propagation techniques, necessary to define recovery 
criteria. As these interim recovery criteria are met, the status of the 
species will be reviewed and it will be considered for downlisting to 
threatened on the Federal List of Endangered and

[[Page 57713]]

Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR part 17).

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit written comments on the recovery plan described. We will 
consider all comments received by the date specified above prior to 
final approval of the draft recovery plan.
    Our practice is to make all 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 addresses from the record, which we will honor to the extent 
allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold also from 
the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If 
you wish for us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state 
this prominently at the beginning of your comments. 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.

    Authority: The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: August 2, 2004.
Sam D. Hamilton,
Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 04-21565 Filed 9-24-04; 8:45 am]