Rulemaking Actions

Article excerpt

From July through December of 2003, the Fish and Wildlife Service published the following proposed and final rules in accordance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The full text of each action can be found on the internet at http://endangered.fws.gov.

Final Listing

Dugong (Dugong dugon) The dugong, a marine mammal somewhat resembling the manatee, was listed in 1970 as an endangered species throughout its range, which includes tropical and subtropical coastal and inland waters from eastern Africa to the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific. Habitat degradation and illegal hunting reduced the dugong to remnant populations.

Because of a technicality in the ESA, dugongs in the Republic of Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific, were dropped from the law's coverage in 1988. On December 17, 2003, with the full support of the local government, ESA protection was once again extended to the small, vulnerable dugong population in Palau.

Final Reclassification

Missouri Bladderpod (Lesquerella filiformis) On October 15, we recognized the improved status of the Missouri bladderpod, an annual in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), by reclassifying it from endangered to the less critical category of threatened. Habitat acquisition and management have benefited some bladderpod sites by allowing the control of competing invasive and nonnative plants. Fencing has protected some populations where cattle grazing posed a threat. The discovery of additional populations also makes the species more secure. Delisting is not yet possible, however, because some sites are still threatened.

Final Delisting Rules

Hoover's Woolly-star (Eriastrum hooveri) This plant, an herb in the phlox family (Polemoniaceae), was delisted on October 7. The discovery of additional populations, and the implementation of conservation actions recommended in the species' recovery plan, led to a determination that the Hoover's woolley-star no longer needs ESA protection. Additionally, researchers found that the plant is more resilient and less vulnerable to disturbance than previously known. The Bureau of Land Management, which administers habitat for a substantial number of the newly discovered populations, will continue to monitor the woolly-star's status.

Truckee Barberry (Berberis (=Mahonia) sonnei) Recent work by taxonomists indicates that this plant, an evergreen shrub in the family Berberidaceae once believed endemic to a floodplain along the Truckee River in California, is not a discrete entity and, therefore, does not meet the definition of a species as described in the ESA. It is now considered synonymous with Berberis repens, a common and widespread plant. For this reason, we removed B. sonnei from the list of threatened and endangered species on October 1.

Sacramento Splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) This fish, a species native to California's Central Valley, was listed in 1999 as threatened due to changes in water flows and water quality, drought, loss of habitat, and the effects of agricultural and industrial pollutants. …