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A boa (brown and black) wrapped around branches in a tree.
Information icon Virgin Islands tree boa. Photo by JP Zegarra USFWS.

Service reopens comment periods and holds public hearing on proposed downlistings of two Caribbean species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment periods on the proposed downlisting of two Caribbean species, to allow interested parties additional opportunities to comment on and attend a virtual public hearing on the actions. Comments previously submitted on these proposals will be fully considered and do not need to be resubmitted.

In late 2020, the Service proposed to downlist the Virgin Islands tree boa from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with a 4(d) rule. Partner conservation actions that have benefited the Virgin Islands tree boa include captive breeding, reintroductions and rat eradication. If the proposal to downlist the tree boa to threatened under the ESA is finalized, conservation actions and monitoring efforts would continue.

The Service also proposed to downlist the endangered plant Eugenia woodburyana to threatened, along with a section 4(d) rule. Progress in conserving and recovering the Eugenia woodburyana is the result of continuing efforts by Service partners, such as the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Envirosurvey, Inc. and private landowners.

Recovery actions such as habitat enhancement, cattle exclusion, fire break management, natural population propagation monitoring and introduction into lands managed for conservation will continue to aid recovery of the species. Seventy-three percent of known Eugenia woodburyana trees are found in areas managed for conservation.

A plant with red and yellow bulbus leaves and green leaves/
Eugenia woodburyana. Photo by O. Monsegur.

The Service has scheduled a virtual public hearing on both proposed actions on May 12, 2021 from 6-8 p.m. AST (6-8 p.m. EST ) via Zoom online video platform and via teleconference. Registration is required.

The public hearing will provide interested parties an opportunity to present verbal testimony (formal, oral comments) regarding either proposed rule. The public hearing will not be an opportunity for dialogue with the Service. It is a forum for accepting formal verbal testimony. In the event there is a large attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may be limited.

Anyone wishing to make an oral statement at the public hearing for the record is encouraged to provide a prepared written copy of their statement to the Service through the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ## ADDRESSES below). There are no limits on the length of written comments submitted. Anyone wishing to make an oral statement at the public hearing must also register before the hearing.

The use of a virtual public hearing is consistent with our regulations at 50 CFR 424.16©(3).

The Service is committed to providing access to the public hearing for all participants. Closed captioning will be available during the public hearing. Further, a full audio and video recording and transcript of the public hearing will be added to this release after the hearing.

Participants will also have access to live audio during the public hearing via their telephone or computer speakers. Persons with disabilities requiring reasonable accommodations to participate in the hearing should contact the person listed below at least five business days prior to the date of the hearing to help ensure availability. An accessible version of the Service’s presentation will also be added to this release prior to the hearing.

Contact

Edwin E. Muñiz, Field Supervisor
edwin_muniz@fws.gov, 787–405-3641

Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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