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Proposed Rule

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reopening of Comment Period and Notice of Availability of the Draft Economic Analysis for Proposed Critical Habitat for 76 Plants From the Islands of Kauai and Niihau, HI

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Proposed rule; reopening of comment period and notice of availability of draft economic analysis.

SUMMARY:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of the draft economic analysis for the proposed designations of critical habitat for 76 plants from the islands of Kauai and Niihau, Hawaii. We are also providing notice of the reopening of the comment period for the proposal to designate critical habitat for these 76 plants to allow all interested parties to comment simultaneously on the proposed rule and the associated draft economic analysis. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public record as part of this reopened comment period and will be fully considered in the final rule.

DATES:

We will accept public comments until April 6, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments and information should be submitted to Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Office, 300 Ala Start Printed Page 13692Moana Blvd., P.O. Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850-0001. For electronic mail address and further instructions on commenting, refer to Public Comments Solicited section of this notice.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Paul Henson, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Office, at the above address (telephone: 808/541-3441; facsimile: 808/541-3470).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) have reconsidered our findings concerning whether designating critical habitat for 81 federally protected plant species currently found on the islands of Kauai and Niihau is prudent. A total of 95 species historically found on these two islands were listed as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), between 1991 and 1996. Some of these species may also occur on other Hawaiian islands. At the time each plant was listed, we determined that designation of critical habitat was not prudent because designation would increase the degree of threat to the species and/or would not benefit the species.

These not prudent determinations were challenged in Conservation Council for Hawaii v. Babbitt, 2 F. Supp. 2d 1280 (D. Haw. 1988). On March 9, 1998, the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, directed us to review the prudency determinations for 245 listed plant species in Hawaii, including these 95 species. On August 10, 1998, the court ordered us to publish proposed critical habitat designations or non-designations for at least 100 species by November 30, 2000, and to publish proposed designations or non-designations for the remaining 145 species by April 30, 2002 (24 F. Supp. 2d 1074). Due to this litigation, we reconsidered our previous prudency determinations for the 95 plants known historically from Kauai and Niihau. From this review, we proposed that critical habitat is prudent for 76 of these species because the potential benefits of designating critical habitat essential for the conservation of these species outweigh the risks of designation. On November 7, 2000, we published in the Federal Register (65 FR 66807) a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for 76 plants from the islands of Kauai and Niihau. In addition, we proposed that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent for five species which are either no longer extant in the wild and such designation would not be beneficial to the species, or because we believe that designation of critical habitat would likely increase the threat to the species from vandalism or collection. The remaining 14 species historically found on Kauai and/or Niihau, no longer occur on these islands. However, these species do occur on other islands, so proposed prudency determinations will be made in future rules addressing plants on those islands. The original comment period closed on January 8, 2001. Based on a request to hold a public hearing, we reopened the comment period until February 19, 2001. The public hearing was held on February 6, 2001 in Lihue, Kauai.

We have proposed to designate a total of 23 critical habitat units, 21 units on Kauai and 2 units on Niihau, covering 24,348.68 hectares (ha) (60,165.57 acres (ac)) on Kauai and 190.55 ha (470.85 ac) on Niihau.

Critical habitat receives protection from destruction or adverse modification through required consultation under section 7 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) with regard to actions carried out, funded, or authorized by a Federal agency. Section 4(b)(2) of the Act requires that the Secretary shall designate or revise critical habitat based upon the best scientific and commercial data available, and after taking into consideration the economic impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. Based upon the previously published proposal to designate critical habitat for 76 plants from Kauai and Niihau, and comments received during the previous comment periods, we have prepared a draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat designations. The draft economic analysis is available at the Internet and mailing addresses in the Public Comments Solicited section below.

Public Comments Solicited

We will accept written comments and information during this re-opened comment period. If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposal by any of several methods:

(1) You may submit written comments and information to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., P.O. Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850-0001.

(2) You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: fw1pie_ kauai_niihau_crithab @r1.fws.gov. If you submit comments by e-mail, please submit them as an ASCII file and avoid the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Please also include “Attn: RIN 1018- ” and your name and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have received your e-mail message, contact us directly by calling our Honolulu Fish and Wildlife Office at telephone number 808/541-3441.

(3) You may hand-deliver comments to our Honolulu Fish and Wildlife Office at the address given above.

Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in preparation of the proposal to designate critical habitat, will be available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the address under (1) above. Copies of the draft economic analysis are available on the Internet at www.r1.fws.gov/​pacific/​wesa/​endspindex.html or by request from the Field Supervisor at the address and phone number under (1 and 2) above.

Author(s)

The primary author of this notice is Christa Russell (see ADDRESSES section).

Authority

The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

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Dated: February 26, 2001.

Rowan W. Gould,

Regional Director, Region 1, Fish and Wildlife Service.

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[FR Doc. 01-5506 Filed 3-6-01; 8:45 am]

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