[Federal Register: April 19, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 74)]
[Page 20396-20397]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Reopening of Public Comment Period for the Agency Draft Recovery 
Plan for the Endangered Catesbaea melanocarpa

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of reopening of public comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce that we are 
reopening the comment period for the Technical/Agency Draft Recovery 
Plan for Catesbaea melanocarpa (no common name) to solicit comment on 
revised ``Recovery Goal'' and ``Recovery Criteria'' sections. The 
revised recovery goal of the draft recovery plan is to protect and 
stabilize existing populations and associated habitat of Catesbaea 
melanocarpa and ultimately remove the species from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The revised recovery 
criteria establish criteria for both downlisting and delisting. We 
solicit review and written comments from the public on these sections 
of the recovery plan.

DATES: In order to be considered, we must receive comments on the 
technical agency draft recovery plan on or before May 19, 2005.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review this 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 either of three 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 Boquer[oacute]n 
Field Office, at the above address, or fax your comments to (787) 851-
    3. You may send comments by electronic mail to Marelisa Rivera from 
the Boquer[oacute]n Field Office at marelisa_rivera@fws.gov.
    Comments and materials received are available for public inspection 
on request, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

section) (Telephone 787-851-7297, ext. 231).



    Catesbaea melanocarpa is an extremely rare small spiny shrub that 
is known from Puerto Rico (PR), St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 
Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadalupe. It occurs in the subtropical dry 
forest life zone, and it is currently known in the United States from 
only one individual in Pe[ntilde]ones de Melones in Cabo Rojo, Puerto 
Rico, and approximately 100 individuals at one location in St. Croix. 
The species is threatened by the limited number of individuals and 
distribution, habitat destruction or modification for residential and 
tourist development, fire, and catastrophic natural events such as 
hurricanes. We listed Catesbaea

[[Page 20397]]

melanocarpa as endangered 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 the 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, and 
estimate time and cost for implementing recovery measures.

Previous Federal Action

    On September 27, 2004, we published in the Federal Register a 
notice of availability of the Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for 
Catesbaea melanocarpa for review and comment (69 FR 57712). The public 
review and comment period ended on November 26, 2004. We subsequently 
have revised the ``Recovery Goal'' and ``Recovery Criteria'' sections 
to address the delisting of the species. Accordingly, we are reopening 
the comment period to solicit comments on these revised sections.

Recovery Goal

    The Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for Catesbaea melanocarpa 
included an interim goal of protecting and enhancing existing 
populations to the point that downlisting to threatened was warranted. 
The reason we included only an interim goal was that the limited 
information available on the current number of individuals throughout 
the species range and the limited knowledge on biology, habitat 
requirements, and genetic information precluded us from coming up with 
well-informed criteria to support a long-term goal. We have revised the 
recovery goal of the draft recovery plan to protect and stabilize 
existing populations and associated habitat, and ultimately remove the 
species from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. 
Although the amount of information available for this species has not 
changed, we believe that we can still identify the ultimate goal as the 
delisting of the species due to recovery, while acknowledging that we 
will need additional information to support and refine objective and 
measurable criteria for delisting.

Recovery Criteria

    The Technical/Agency Draft Recovery Plan for Catesbaea melanocarpa 
identified four interim priority tasks that would lead us to obtain 
information essential for the development of more objective, measurable 
criteria that would need to be met before considering the downlisting 
of the species. We have revaluated the downlisting criteria and 
determined that objective and measurable criteria could be developed at 
this time and have revised the draft plan accordingly. Further, we have 
added delisting criteria to reflect the revised recovery goal. The 
revised and added criteria are as follows.
    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; and (2) viable populations (the number of which should be 
determined following the appropriate studies) are established in 
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 
identified suitable conservation area within the dry forest zone.
    Because we lack critical biological and genetic information, we can 
not determine specific numbers for the delisting criteria at this time. 
However, we have identified a recovery task that is necessary for 
providing such information and will refine the recovery criteria when 
this information is available:
    8. Refine recovery criteria. As additional information on the 
biology, ecology, propagation, and management of Catesbaea melanocarpa 
is accumulated, it will be necessary to better define recovery 
    81. Determine number of individuals and self-sustaining populations 
necessary to ensure species survival and recovery. Environmental and 
reproductive studies, together with the relative success of population 
protection measures, will allow for more precise and realistic recovery 
criteria to be established.
    82. Determine what additional actions, if any, are necessary to 
achieve recovery criteria. Any action(s) not included in this recovery 
plan that are recognized during the recovery process as being necessary 
or important for the conservation and/or recovery of this species 
should be incorporated into the plan.
    This task was included in the first draft of the recovery plan as 
Task 7 and sub-tasks 71 and 72.

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit written comments on the ``Recovery Goal'' and ``Recovery 
Criteria'' sections of the recovery plan as discussed above. We will 
consider all comments regarding recovery goal and criteria received by 
the date specified in the DATES section (above) prior to final approval 
of the recovery plan.
    Our practice is to make all comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Respondents may request that we withhold their home 
addresses, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There 
may also be circumstances in which we would withhold 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. To the 
extent consistent with applicable law, 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.


    The primary author of this notice is Marelisa Rivera (see ADDRESS 


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

    Dated: March 18, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 05-7787 Filed 4-18-05; 8:45 am]