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Critical Habitat Designated in St. Croix for the Caribbean Shrub Catesbaea Melanocarpa


28, 2007


Lilibeth Serrano, 787-851-7297, ext. 239
Marelisa Rivera, 787-851-7297 ext 231.
Tom MacKenzie, 404-679-7291

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today published a final rule designating 10.5 acres of private land in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands as critical habitat for Catesbaea melanocarpa, a shrub classified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Critical habitat is a term in the ESA identifying geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require additional management consideration and/or protection. The area designated for C. melanocarpa is located within the Halfpenny Bay area in Estate Grenard, a privately-owned farm. There are nearly 100 individual shrubs scattered within patches of forested areas with low canopy on limestone soil.

In August 2006, the Service published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for C. melanocarpa and sought public comment on this issue. After careful consideration of input received during tow public comment periods, the Service substantially reduced the amount of proposed designated critical habitat. The original proposal included 50 acres, of which 39.5 acres were excluded from the final designation because the area did not have subtropical dry forestry habitat and, therefore, did not meet the definition of critical habitat for this plant.

When critical habitat is designated, federal agencies are required to ensure that their activities will not destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Federal activities, or actions permitted, licensed, or funded by federal agencies, will require consultation with the Service. In such cases, the Service will work with the federal agency to identify alternatives in which the project may proceed without adverse modification of critical habitat. Most public uses and activities that do not involve a federal action will be unaffected by this critical habitat designation. Private land use activities such as farming would also be unaffected.
This shrub has funnel shaped white flowers, reaches about 10 feet in height, produces a round, black fruit and has small spines and small leaves. It grows in subtropical dry and subtropical moist forests and has no common name. Threats to its survival include the limited number of reproducing plants, fire and catastrophic natural events such as hurricanes, and habitat destruction and modification for residential and tourism development.

For a copy of the final rule published in today’s Federal Register (Vol. 72, number 166, pages 49212-49228), please go to the website:

A copy also may be obtained by contacting Lilibeth Serrano at or telephone
787-851-7297 ext. 239; facsimile 787-851-7440.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. Visit the Service’s website at

Catesbaea melanocarpa.  Photo by  Carlos Pacheco.


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