Includes designation of critical habitat for 135 species
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Aug. 9 the extension of the public comment period for the proposal to add 38 species found on the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai, Lānai, Kaho‘olawe, and Maui (collectively known as Maui Nui) to the federal endangered species list, to reevaluate the endangered status of two presently listed species, and to designate critical habitat for 135 species.
The proposed rule was originally made available to the public on June 11, 2012, and the 60-day comment period was to close on Aug. 10. The deadline for submitting comments is being extended an additional 30 days to Sept. 10. The comment period was extended to ensure that the public has an adequate opportunity to review and comment on the proposed rule.
On Molokai, 10 species — five of which are endemic to only Molokai — are being considered. These include the commonly known haha, only found in Kalaupapa and the cliffs of the north shore. It is considered a shrub in the bellflower family. 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).
The Service is proposing critical habitat concurrently with the proposed listing for 39 of the 40 plant and animal species. In addition, the Service is revising critical habitat for 85 previously listed plant species, and proposing critical habitat for 11 previously listed plant and animal species that do not have designated critical habitat.
The proposed critical habitat designation is composed of 100 multi-species units totaling approximately 271,062 acres, and includes occupied and unoccupied habitat. Of the total units and acreage, 61 units comprising 192,364 acres are located on Maui, 20 units comprising 46,832 acres on Molokai, 14 units comprising 25,413 acres on Lānai, and 5 units comprising 6,453 acres on Kaho‘olawe. 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.
The 40 species proposed or reevaluated for listing include 37 plant and three animal species. The 37 plant species include herbs, shrubs, trees and ferns. The three animal species are the Newcomb’s tree snail and two Lānai tree snails. Of the 40 proposed species, 20 are candidate species (17 plants and 3 tree snails), 15 are plant species of concern (each with fewer than 50 individuals remaining), three are other plant species (Cyanea duvalliorum, Cyrtandra ferripilosa, and Mucuna sloanei var. persericea) that share common threats with the other 37 species, and 2 are endangered plants (Cyanea grimesiana ssp. grimesiana and Santalum haleakalae var. lanaiense) whose range has changed since they were listed, therefore the listed status of these two species must be reaffirmed. These 40 species are found in 11 ecosystem types: coastal, lowland dry, lowland mesic, lowland wet, montane dry, montane wet, montane mesic, subalpine, alpine, dry cliff, and wet cliff.
The Service is also proposing name and spelling changes for 13 listed Maui Nui plants and animals, and the delisting of a Lānai plant, Gahnia lanaiensis. This plant, which is no longer believed to be a valid species, is now known to be synonymous with a species endemic to New Zealand, and is not in danger of extinction or likely to become an endangered species.
Degradation of habitat by non-native 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 non-native 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 non-native 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 Sept. 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, Hawaii 96850; telephone 808-792-9400 or fax 808-792-9581.
For a complete list of the proposed species visit: http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.