The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal yesterday to add 38 species found across Maui Nui to the federal endangered species list. Ten of those species to gain the endangered status live on Molokai.
While the endangered species are being evaluated, the Service will also consider designating critical habitat for 135 species, including the revision of critical habitats for 85 previously listed plant species. Critical habitat for 11 previously listed plant and animal species that do not have designated critical habitat are also part of this plan.
This proposal is collectively referred to as the Maui Nui listing and critical habitat package. Public comments on this proposal will be accepted until Aug. 10.
“The Service is implementing an ecosystem-based approach to the proposed listing and designation of critical habitat in Hawaii — which leads the nation in the number of federally listed and candidate species — to better prioritize, direct, and focus conservation and recovery actions,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, field supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.
“The health of threatened and endangered species is linked to our own well-being. Many people depend on habitat that sustains these species — for clean air and water, recreational opportunities and for their livelihoods. By protecting imperiled native fish, wildlife and plants, we can ensure a healthy future for our community and protect treasured landscapes for future generations.”
The proposed critical habitat designation is composed of 100 multi-species units totaling approximately 271,062 acres and includes occupied and unoccupied habitat across Maui Nui.
Of the total units and acreage, 20 units comprising 46,832 acres are on Molokai. Approximately 47 percent of the area being proposed as critical habitat was already designated as critical habitat for listed species. This proposed rule will revise previous critical habitat designations made in 1984 and 2003.
Out of the 10 endangered species on Molokai, five of them are endemic to only Molokai. One of these species goes by the scientific name Cyanea profuga, commonly known as haha, and can only be found in Kalaupapa and the cliffs of the north shore. It is considered a shrub in the bellflower family.
The other plant species only found on Molokai are the Cyanea solanacea, or popolo, the Festuca molokaiensis (no common name), Pittosporum halophilum, commonly known as hoawa, and the Schiedea laui (no common name).
Two other types of haha plant, one found on both Molokai and Lanai and the other found on Molokai and Oahu, were also listed. The Santalum haleakalae, a variety of lanaiense, known as iliahi, is found on Molokai, Lanai and Maui and has also been added to the endangered species list.
Degradation of habitat by nonnative ungulates (i.e., pigs, goats, sheep and deer) is considered a threat to 37 of the 40 species. Additional threats are: habitat destruction and modification by nonnative plants, fire, stochastic events (e.g., hurricanes, landslides, flooding etc.), agricultural and urban development, and climate change; direct consumption of plants by ungulates (e.g., pigs, deer, sheep and goats); other nonnative vertebrates (rats) and nonnative invertebrates (snails and slugs); and inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms and other species-specific threats. The Service finds that all of these species face immediate and significant threats throughout their ranges.
Comments can be sent by one of the following methods and must be received by Aug. 10: Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Docket No. FWS–R1-ES-2011-0098. Via U.S. mail or hand delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R1-ES-2011-0098; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM, Arlington, VA 22203.
Copies of the proposed rule may be downloaded from the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/. For further information contact: Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96850; telephone 808/792-9400 or fax 808/ 792-9581.