Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on
The coordinates, or plot points, or both, from which the critical habitat maps are generated are included in the administrative record for this rulemaking and are available at
This document consists of: (1) A proposed rule to list
We have determined that threats to
We have determined that threats to
We have determined that the threats to
This rule proposes to designate critical habitat for
• In total, approximately 3,466 hectares (8,565 acres) are being proposed for designation as critical habitat for
• The proposed designation includes both occupied and unoccupied critical habitat, although those areas are not differentiated in the proposed rule or on the maps. Where the unit is not occupied by
This rule does not propose critical habitat for
• Designation would increase the likelihood and severity of illegal collection of
• These threats outweigh the benefits of designation for the two species.
We are seeking comments from knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise to review our technical assumptions, analysis of the best available science, and application of that science and to provide any additional scientific information to improve this proposed rule.
We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific and commercial data available and be as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning:
(1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
(a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
(b) Genetics and taxonomy;
(c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
(d) Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends; and
(e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its habitat, or both.
(2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531
(a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(c) Disease or predation;
(d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
(3) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning any threats (or lack thereof) to these species and existing regulations that may be addressing those threats.
(4) Additional information concerning the historical and current status, range, distribution, and population size of these species, including the locations of any additional occurrences or populations of these species.
(5) Any information on the biological or ecological requirements of these species and ongoing conservation measures for these species and their habitats.
(6) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as “critical habitat” under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531
(7) Specific information on:
(a) The amount and distribution of
(b) What areas, that were occupied at the time of listing (or are currently occupied) and that contain features essential to the conservation of the species, should be included in the designation and why;
(c) What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential for the conservation of the species and why.
(8) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the areas occupied by
(9) Information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of climate change on
(10) Probable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts that may result from designating any area that may be included in the final designation. We are particularly interested in any impacts on small entities, and the benefits of including or excluding areas from the proposed designation that are subject to these impacts.
(11) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public participation and understanding, or to assist us in accommodating public concerns and comments.
(12) The likelihood of adverse social reactions to the designation of critical habitat and how the consequences of such reactions, if likely to occur, would relate to the conservation and regulatory benefits of the proposed critical habitat designation.
Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
Please note that submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.”
You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the
If you submit information via
Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on
The Service first recognized
On May 10, 2011, the Service announced a work plan to restore biological priorities and certainty to the Service's listing process. As part of an agreement with one of the agency's most frequent plaintiffs, the Service filed a work plan with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The work plan will enable the agency to, over a period of 6 years, systematically review and address the needs of more than 250 species listed within the 2010 Candidate Notice of Review, including
It is our intent to discuss below only those topics directly relevant to the listing of
The climate of south Florida where
Coastal berms are landscape features found along low-energy coastlines in south Florida and the Florida Keys. Coastal berm is a short forest or shrub thicket found on long, narrow, storm-deposited ridges of loose sediment formed by a mixture of coarse shell fragments, pieces of coralline algae, and other coastal debris. These ridges parallel the shore and may be found on the seaward edge or landward edge of the mangroves or farther inland depending on the height of the storm surge that formed them. They range in height from 30 to 305 cm (1 to 10 feet (ft)). Structure and composition of the vegetation is variable depending on height and time since the last storm event. The most stable berms may share some tree species with rockland hammocks, but generally have a greater proportion of shrubs and herbs. Tree species may include
Coastal berms are deposited by storm waves along low-energy coasts. Their distance inland depends on the height of the storm surge. Tall berms may be the product of repeated storm deposition. Coastal berms that are deposited far enough inland and remain long-undisturbed may in time succeed to hammock. This is a structurally variable community that may appear in various stages of succession following storm disturbance, from scattered herbaceous beach colonizers to a dense stand of tall shrubs (FNAI 2010a
Also known as Keys tidal rock barren or Keys cactus barren, coastal rock barren is confined to the Florida Keys on limestone bedrock along shores facing both Florida Bay and the Straits of Florida. Coastal rock barrens are flat rocklands with much exposed and eroded limestone, little soil or leaf litter, and a sparse cover of stunted halophytic herbs and shrubs in tidal rock barrens (FNAI 2010b, p. 1), or a wide variety of herbs and succulents in cactus barrens (FNAI 2010c, p. 1). The amount of exposed rock varies from practically 0 to over 50 percent of the area.
In tidal rock barrens, patches of low, salt-tolerant herbaceous species include
In cactus barrens, the vegetation consists of a wide variety of herbaceous and succulent species which characteristically includes cacti, agaves, and several rare herbs. Among the latter are
Coastal rock barren occurs above the daily tidal range, but is subject to flooding by seawater during extreme tides and storm events. Salt spray from coastal winds, as well as shallow soils, may limit height growth of woody plants. Aside from bare rock substrate, discontinuous patches of thin marl soils may be present. Fires are rare to non existent in this community (FNAI 2010b, p. 2). The natural process giving rise to cactus barrens is not known, but because they occur on sites where the thin layer of organic soil over limestone bedrock is missing, they may have formed by soil erosion following destruction of the plant cover by fire, storm, or artificial clearing (FNAI 2010c, p. 2).
At its seaward edge, coastal rock barren borders mangrove swamp or salt marshes that are regularly inundated. At its upland edge, coastal rock barrens may grade into rockland hammock or pine rockland (FNAI 2010b, p. 2; 2010c, p. 2).
Forests dominated by buttonwood often exist in upper tidal areas, especially where mangrove swamp transitions to rockland hammock. These buttonwood forests have canopy dominated by
Temperature, salinity, tidal fluctuation, substrate, and wave energy influence the size and extent of buttonwood forests (FNAI 2010e, p. 3). Buttonwood forests often grade into salt marsh, coastal berm, rockland hammock, and coastal rock barren (FNAI 2010d, p. 5).
Rockland hammock is a species-rich tropical hardwood forest on upland sites in areas where limestone is very near the surface and often exposed. The forest floor is largely covered by leaf litter with varying amounts of exposed limestone and has few herbaceous species. Rockland hammocks typically have larger, more mature trees in the interior, while the margins can be almost impenetrable in places with dense growth of smaller shrubs, trees, and vines. Typical canopy and subcanopy species include
Rockland hammock occurs on a thin layer of highly organic soil covering limestone on high ground that does not regularly flood, but it is often dependent upon a high water table to keep humidity levels high. Rockland hammocks are frequently located near wetlands; in the Everglades they can occur on organic matter that accumulates on top of the underlying limestone; in the Keys they occur inland from tidal flats (FNAI 2010e, p.1).
Rockland hammock is susceptible to fire, frost, canopy disruption, and ground water reduction. Rockland hammock can be the advanced successional stage of pine rockland, especially in cases where rockland hammock is adjacent to pine rockland. In such cases, when fire is excluded from pine rockland for 15 to 25 years, it can succeed to rockland hammock vegetation. Historically, rockland hammocks in south Florida evolved with fire in the landscape, fire most often extinguished near the edges when it encountered the hammock's moist microclimate and litter layer. However, rockland hammocks are susceptible to damage from fire during extreme drought or when the water table is lowered. In these cases, fire can cause tree mortality and consume the organic soil layer (FNAI 2010e, p.2).
Rockland hammocks are also sensitive to the strong winds and storm surge associated with infrequent hurricanes. Canopy damage often occurs, which causes a change in the microclimate of the hammock. Decreased relative humidity and drier soils can leave rockland hammocks more susceptible to fire. Rockland hammock can grade into glades marsh, mangrove swamp, salt marsh, coastal rock barren, pine rockland, maritime hammock, or marl prairie (FNAI 2010e, p. 2).
The sparsely vegetated edges or interior portions laid open by canopy disruption are the areas of rockland hammock that have light levels sufficient to support
The ecological communities and substrate upon which
The common name of
In ENP, the species appears to have a distribution approaching what was reported historically. Eleven populations supporting approximately 1,500 to 2,500 plants occur in buttonwood forests and rockland hammocks from the Coastal Prairie Trail near the southern tip of Cape Sable to Madeira Bay (Sadle 2007 and 2012, pers. comm.).
In the Florida Keys,
Little is known about the long-term demographics or population trends of
The reproductive biology and genetics of
John Kunkel Small discovered and described
The climate of south Florida where
The current range of
Extant populations of
Experimental plantings of
Sexual reproduction has not been observed in
Annual monitoring has provided a perspective on the population structure and dynamics of
Population decline has been shown in a wild population on an island in the Florida Keys, which now consists of 9 to 11 adult plants (defined as plants greater than 91.4 cm (3 ft) tall) and hundreds of small juveniles originating from fallen pads. Overall, the number of adult plants in this population has declined more than 50 percent over the past 10 years, due to crown rot and damage caused by the
Based upon the best available scientific information,
The climate of south Florida where
Coastal strand is an evergreen shrub community growing on stabilized coastal dunes. It is usually the first woody plant community inland from the coast. On the southwest Gulf coast of Florida, coastal strand is patchily distributed. It usually develops as a band between dunes dominated by
On the southwest Gulf coast of Florida, the species composition of coastal strand consists of tropical plant species, including
Soils are deep, well-drained sands and may be somewhat alkaline, consisting of quartz sand mixed with varying proportions of shell fragments (FNAI 2010f, p. 2).
Storm waves periodically destroy dunes and the coastal strand behind them, with the resulting bare area being recolonized first by pioneer beach species and then by coastal grassland. The resulting coastal grassland is in turn invaded by patches of woody species, which eventually coalesce into a continuous woody community of coastal strand. Natural disturbances, such as strong winds and storm surge associated with hurricanes, or hard freezes, serve to open up coastal strand canopies. There is little information on natural fire frequency in coastal strand (FNAI 2010f, p. 2).
Coastal strand is distinguished from maritime hammock by the absence of distinct tree canopy and understory layers. It is distinguished from coastal berm and shell mound by its occurrence on sand deposits along a high-energy sandy coast, rather than on shell deposits along a low-energy, mangrove-dominated coast. It is distinguished from coastal grassland by the dominance of woody, rather than herbaceous, species.
Coastal grassland is a predominantly herbaceous community occupying the drier portions of the transition zone between beach dunes on the immediate coast and communities dominated by woody species, such as coastal strand or maritime hammock, farther inland. It occurs primarily on the broader barrier islands and capes along the sandy coasts of Florida. The specialized dune building grasses of the beach dune community,
Coastal grassland develops either as a barrier island builds seaward, developing new dune ridges along the shore that protect the inland ridges from sand burial and salt spray, or as a beach recovers after storm overwash and a new foredune ridge builds up along the shore, protecting the overwashed area behind it from sand burial and salt spray. As time passes, absent further storms, the coastal grassland community itself will gradually be replaced by woody species to form scrub, coastal strand, or maritime hammock communities (FNAI 2010g, entire).
Fire is naturally rare and localized in this community, with water barriers and sparse fuels combining to limit its spread (FNAI 2010g, entire).
Coastal grassland is distinguished from the beach dune community by its position inland from the immediate coastline and the presence of a variety of grasses, forbs, and pioneer dune-building grasses. It differs from coastal berm in its position on a sandy coast, rather than on a storm-deposited shell ridge on a mangrove-dominated shoreline. Coastal grassland is distinguished from coastal strand and maritime hammock in being dominated by herbaceous, rather than woody, species (FNAI 2010g, entire).
Maritime hammock is a predominantly evergreen hardwood forest growing on stabilized coastal dunes lying at varying distances from the shore. On the southwest Gulf coast of Florida, most of the barrier islands and peninsulas are long and narrow with correspondingly small, narrow areas of hammock. Maritime hammock is best developed on the few broad islands, including Caladesi, Cayo Costa, North Captiva, and the inner barrier islands at Stump Pass and Keewaydin Island (FNAI 2010h, entire).
Canopy species include
Maritime hammock occurs on deep, well-drained, acid quartz sands, or well-drained, moderately alkaline, quartz sands mixed with shell fragments (FNAI 2010h, entire).
Due to their coastal location with water barriers on at least one, if not two sides, fire was probably naturally rare and very spotty in maritime hammock, especially on the narrower barrier islands. Maritime hammocks are principally influenced by wind-borne salt spray, storm waves, and sand burial. If storm waves destroy the protective dunes seaward of the hammock, sand can blow inland, burying the trees. In addition to physical destruction by storm waves, hammock trees are susceptible to being killed by standing salt water deposited in low areas by storm surge (FNAI 2010h, entire).
Tropical maritime hammock can be distinguished from rockland hammock by their occurrence on sand substrate, rather than limestone. They may be similar in species composition to coastal berm, being distinguished primarily by location along a high wave energy sandy coast, rather than a low-energy, mangrove-dominated coast, and the presence of a distinct canopy layer. They are very similar to shell mounds in species composition, being distinguished by their occurrence on a natural sand deposit rather than on pure shell (FNAI 2010h, entire).
Shell mounds are small hills, usually in coastal locations, composed entirely of shells (clams, oysters, whelks) discarded by generations of Native Americans. Shell mounds are found along the coast throughout Florida and range westward and northward along the coastlines of the southeastern United States. Originally, there were many such shell mounds along coastal lagoons and at the mouths of rivers, but most were destroyed for road building in the early part of the last century. A rich, calcareous soil develops on the deposited shells, which supports a diverse hardwood forest on undisturbed mounds. Several shell mounds are now surrounded by mangroves, evidence that they were built when sea level was lower than today (FNAI 2010i, entire).
The plant species composition of shell mound forests tends to be more strictly tropical than that of maritime hammocks on sandy substrates in the same region. South Florida shell mounds are often characterized by tropical tree species such as