[Federal Register: January 9, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 6)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 1560-1561]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AG09

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Endangered Status for Three Plants From the Mariana Islands and Guam

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), provides notice of 
the reopening of the comment period on the proposed endangered status 
for three plants (no common names), Nesogenes rotensis, Osmoxylon 
mariannense, and Tabernaemontana rotensis, to allow peer reviewers and 
all interested parties to submit comments on the proposal. Comments 
already submitted on the June 1, 2000, proposed rule need not be 
resubmitted as they will be fully considered in the final 

DATES: Comments from all interested parties must be received by January 
26, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Comments and materials concerning the proposal should be 
sent to the Acting Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, 
Honolulu, HI 96850. For further instructions on commenting, refer to 
the Public Comments Solicited section of this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gina Schultz, Acting Field Supervisor, 
at the above address (telephone 808-792-9400; facsimile 808-792-9580).



    On June 1, 2000, we published a proposed rule to list Nesogenes 
rotensis, Osmoxylon mariannense, and Tabernaemontana rotensis as 
endangered species (65 FR 35025). At the time of the proposed listing, 
we also proposed that designation of critical habitat for these three 
species was prudent.
    Nesogenes rotensis, Osmoxylon mariannense, and Tabernaemontana 
rotensis all occur on the island of Rota in the Commonwealth of 
Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); only Tabernaemontana rotensis is found 
in the United States Territory of Guam. On Rota, Osmoxylon mariannense 
and Tabernaemontana rotensis occur on private lands; Nesogenes rotensis 
occurs on public park land (Po[ntilde]a Point Fishing Cliff) owned by 
the CNMI under jurisdiction of the Department of Lands and Natural 
Resources. On Guam, Tabernaemontana rotensis occurs on private and 
Federal lands (Andersen Air Force Base). Currently, there are at least 
250 individuals of Tabernaemontana rotensis known on Guam and at least 
8 individuals on Rota. Only 80 individuals of Nesogenes rotensis and 8 
individuals of Osmoxylon mariannense occur on Rota. The three plant 
species and their habitats have been affected or are now threatened by 
one or more of the following: habitat degradation or destruction by 
feral deer and pigs; competition for space, light, water, and nutrients 
with introduced vegetation; road construction and maintenance 
activities; recreational activities; natural disasters or random 
environmental events; fire; vandalism; development of agricultural 
homesteads; resorts and golf courses; limited reproductive vigor; and 
potential insect, mouse, or rat predation.
    In our June 1, 2000, proposed rule and associated notifications, we 
requested that all interested parties submit comments, data, or other 
information that might contribute to the development of a final rule. A 
60-day comment period closed on July 31, 2000. Appropriate CNMI and 
Government of Guam agencies, Federal agencies and other interested 
parties were contacted and requested to comment. A legal notice 
announcing the publication of the listing proposal was published in the 
Marianas Variety newspaper on June 16, 2000 and the Pacific Daily News 
on June 23, 2000. During this period we received one request for a 
public hearing from the CNMI Department of Fish and Wildlife. On 
October 30, 2000, we gave notice in the Federal Register (65 FR 64649) 
and the Marianas Variety of the public hearing to be held on the island 
of Rota and reopened the public comment period until November 29, 2000. 
On November 16, 2000, we held a public hearing at the Rota Resort, 
    Our final listing decision for Nesogenes rotensis, Osmoxylon 
mariannense, and Tabernaemontana rotensis was deferred due to lack of 
resources because the Service's Pacific Islands Office (where the 
proposed listing was initiated) staff were under Federal court-orders 
to designate critical habitat for 255 Hawaiian plants and four Hawaiian 
invertebrates. Pursuant to a settlement agreement approved by the 
United States District Court for the District of Hawaii on August 21, 
2002, the Service must make a final decision on this proposal by April 
1, 2004, (Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton, Civil No. 99-00603 
(D. Haw.)).
    Comments already submitted on the June 1, 2000, proposed rule need 
not be resubmitted as they will be fully considered in the final 

Public Comments Solicited

    When we published the proposed rule, we solicited scientific and 
technical peer review from three appropriate and independent 
specialists--biologists with expertise in the fields of botany or 
Pacific Islands ecology. We did not receive any comments from these 
reviewers during the original comment period. We believe that because 3 
years have passed since publication of the proposed rule, that 
additional review is warranted at this time. In order to address any 
additional comments received in response to reopening the comment 
period and to meet the August 21, 2002, court order to submit to the 
Federal Register a final listing decision for these three plants no 
later than April 1, 2004, we are reopening the comment period until the 
date specified in DATES. The reopening of the comment period gives 
additional time for all interested parties to consider the proposed 
rule's information and submit comments on the proposal. We seek 
comments especially concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to these species;
    (2) The location of any additional populations of these species and 
reasons why any habitat should or should not be designated as critical 
    (3) Additional information on the range, distribution, and 
population size of these species; and
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on these species.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials 
concerning the proposal by any of the following methods:
    (1) You may submit written comments and information to the Acting 

[[Page 1561]]

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: Mariana--
3Plants@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-AG09'' 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 Honolulu Fish and 
Wildlife Office at telephone number 808/792-9400.
    (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 list Nesogenes 
rotensis, Osmoxylon mariannense, and Tabernaemontana rotensis as 
endangered species, will be available for inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at our Honolulu Fish and Wildlife Office 
at the address given above.


    The primary author of this notice is John Nuss, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 911 NE 11th Avenue, 4th Floor, Portland, Oregon, 


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

    Dated: December 11, 2003.
Steve Williams,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-384 Filed 1-8-04; 8:45 am]