U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        Diana M. Hawkins or

March 4, 1997                                Vicki M. Boatwright





     U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE WITHDRAWS THE

     LISTING OF ORTEGON (COCCOLOBA RUGOSA) AS THREATENED



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is withdrawing the proposed addition of a small Puerto Rican evergreen tree to the Federal list of threatened species because additional trees have recently been found and the listing is no longer warranted, Southeast Regional Director Noreen K. Clough announced today. The Endangered Species Act defines a threatened species as one which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Clough noted that the withdrawal of this proposed listing is in line with the Administration's emphasis on the placing of greater scrutiny on the scientific analysis supporting endangered species decisions.

The orteg˘n (Coccoloba rugosa) is native to Puerto Rico, and the species was proposed for listing as threatened on September 23, 1993. At that time, fewer than 1000 trees were believed to exist at 14 sites on the island. Additional trees have since been discovered, however, and now approximately 5000 of the trees are known to grow at 33 sites on Commonwealth, Federal, and private properties. The majority of these known localities is in the eastern portion of the island of Puerto Rico.

The orteg˘n grows to a height of 30 feet bearing flower clusters 1 to 2.5 feet in length, with numerous small crimson-colored blooms. Because of its beauty, the tree is sometimes propagated for planting in gardens and landscaping projects.

Although the Service does not presently consider the future of the orteg˘n tree to be in jeopardy, it expects to continue to work with Federal and Commonwealth agencies, as well as private landowners, to protect and monitor the species. Deforestation and habitat destruction are considered to be the greatest threats to these trees.

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Release #97-26


1997 News Releases

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