[Federal Register: August 18, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 159)]
[Page 48579-48580]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Recovery Plan for the Endangered 
Catesbaea melanocarpa

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the final recovery plan for Catesbaea melanocarpa (no common name). 
This endangered plant species is a small spiny shrub of the family 
Rubiacea. It is extremely rare and is known from Puerto Rico, St. Croix 
in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadeloupe. The 
recovery plan includes specific recovery goal/objectives and criteria 
to be met to delist Catesbaea melanocarpa under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended.

ADDRESSES: Copies of this recovery plan are available on the Internet 
at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans or by request 

from the Caribbean Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. 
Box 491, Boquer[oacute]n, Puerto Rico 00622 (telephone 787/851-7297).

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



    Catesbaea melanocarpa belongs to a genus that consists of ten or 
more species of spiny shrubs. Catesbaea melanocarpa is extremely rare 
and is known from Puerto Rico, St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands 
(USVI), Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadeloupe. 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. 
Little information is available regarding the status of the species in 
Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadalupe. The two currently known locations in 
Puerto Rico and the USVI are privately-owned, and are subject to 
development pressure for residential and tourism projects. The risk of 
extinction is high because so few individuals of Catesbaea melanocarpa 
are known to occur in limited areas. Additionally, the species is 
threatened by catastrophic natural events, such as hurricanes, as well 
as human induced fires. Catesbaea melanocarpa was listed as endangered 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) (Act) on March 17, 1999 (64 FR 13116).
    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 our endangered species program. To help guide the 
recovery effort, we prepare recovery plans for most listed species. 
Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for conservation 
of the species, establish criteria for downlisting or delisting them, 
and estimate time and cost for implementing recovery measures.
    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 
public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment during 
recovery plan development. A notice of availability of the technical 
agency draft recovery plan for Catesbaea melanocarpa was published in 
the Federal Register on September 27, 2004 (69 FR 57712). A 60-day 
comment period was opened with the notice, closing on November 26, 
2004. We received comments from two interested parties and from two 
experts on Catesbaea melanocarpa who served as peer reviewers of the 
recovery plan. On April 19, 2005, we published in the Federal Register 
a notice of reopening the comment period for the agency draft recovery 
plan to solicit comments on revised ``Recovery Goal'' and ``Recovery 
Criteria'' sections (70 FR 20396). A 30-day comment period was opened 
with the notice, closing on May 19, 2005. We received comments from two 
interested parties. Comments and information submitted were considered 
in the preparation of this final plan and, where appropriate, 

Recovery Plan

    The objective of this recovery plan is to provide a framework for 
the recovery of Catesbaea melanocarpa so that protection under the Act 
is no longer necessary. As recovery criteria are met, the status of the 
species will be reviewed, and it will be considered for 
reclassification to threatened status or for removal from the Federal 
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR part 17).
    The information on the current number of individuals throughout the 
species' range, and the knowledge of biology, habitat requirements, and 
genetic information is limited. However, the Service has developed 
downlisting and delisting criteria for Catesbaea melanocarpa. These 
criteria are intended to provide long-term sustainability of the 
endangered Catesbaea melanocarpa. Long term sustainability requires 
adequate reproduction for replacement of losses due to natural 
mortality factors (including disease and stochastic events), sufficient 
genetic robustness to avoid inbreeding depression and allow adaptation, 
sufficient habitat for long term population maintenance, and 
elimination or control of threats.
    Downlisting of the species from endangered to threatened status 
will be considered when: (1) The habitat known to support the two 
extant populations (St. Croix and Pe[ntilde]ones de Melones) is 
enhanced and protected through landowner conservation agreements or 
easements; (2) extant populations are enhanced through the planting of 
additional propagated individuals to augment the number of adult 
individuals to at least 250; (3) at least one population within each of 
the following previously occupied habitat is found and/or established: 
Gu[aacute]nica Commonwealth Forest (PR), Sus[uacute]a Commonwealth 
Forest (PR), Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadalupe; and (4) research is 
conducted on key biological and genetic issues, including effective 
propagation techniques, and number of individuals within a population 
and number of populations needed for the establishment of self-
sustaining populations and a viable overall population.
    Catesbaea melanocarpa will be considered for delisting when: (1) A 
number of viable populations (to be determined following the 
appropriate studies) are protected by long term conservation 
strategies; (2) viable populations (the number of which should be 
determined following the appropriate studies) are established in 
previously unoccupied but suitable habitat at Sandy Point National 
Wildlife Refuge (USVI), Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge (PR), La 
Tinaja in Sierra Bermeja (Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge, 
PR), and any other

[[Page 48580]]

identified suitable conservation area within the dry forest zone; and 
(3) the numbers of populations, their sizes, genetic makeup and 
distribution needed to ensure self-sustainability are determined and 
    In an effort to meet the recovery criteria, the following recovery 
actions were identified. The Recovery Plan breaks these actions down 
further into specific tasks.
    1. Protect existing populations (St. Croix and Cabo Rojo) from 
current and future threats and/or limiting factors through landowner 
agreements and other conservation mechanisms.
    2. Determine the distribution and population status of Catesbaea 
melanocarpa throughout its present and historic range, including 
Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadalupe.
    3. Evaluate techniques and develop a plant propagation program for 
Catesbaea melanocarpa.
    4. Enhance existing populations and establish new self-sustaining 
populations (number of which should be determined by viability 
analysis) within protected areas by introducing additional individuals 
developed through propagation. Introduction sites may include, but are 
not limited to, the Gu[aacute]nica Commonwealth Forest, Sus[uacute]a 
Commonwealth Forest, Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, and Cabo 
Rojo National Wildlife Refuge.
    5. Conduct additional scientific research on Catesbaea melanocarpa.
    6. Facilitate the recovery of Catesbaea melanocarpa through public 
awareness and education.
    7. Provide technical assistance to Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadalupe 
for the development of conservation measures for the species.
    8. Refine recovery criteria.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 

    Dated: July 11, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 05-16372 Filed 8-17-05; 8:45 am]