[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 147 (Thursday, July 31, 1997)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 41016-41019]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-20132]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AD39

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Withdrawal of 
Proposed Rule To List Dudleya Blochmaniae ssp. Insularis, Dudleya sp. 
nov. ``East Point'', and Heuchera Maxima as Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; withdrawal.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) withdraws the 
proposal to list Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis, Dudleya sp. nov. 
``East Point'', and Heuchera maxima as endangered species under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Service finds 
that information now available, discussed below, justifies withdrawal 
of the proposed listings of these species as endangered. The National 
Park Service (NPS) has implemented measures that significantly reduce 
the risks to Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis and Dudleya sp. nov. 
``East Point'' and has sponsored field surveys that have identified a 
greater abundance and distribution for Heuchera maxima. Based on this 
information the Service concludes that listing of these species is not 

DATES: This withdrawal notice is made July 31, 1997.

ADDRESSES: The complete file for this rule is available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the Ventura 
Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road, 
Ventura, California, 93003.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Thomas, at the above address or by 
telephone (805) 644-1766.



    On July 25, 1995 the Service published in the Federal Register (60 
FR 37993) a proposal to list 16 plant species from the northern Channel 
Islands as endangered.
    Included among these 16 taxa were Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. 
insularis (Santa Rosa Island dudleya), Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' 
(munchkin dudleya), and Heuchera maxima (Island alum-root), the subject 
taxa of this notice of withdrawal. Santa Rosa Island dudleya (Dudleya 
blochmaniae ssp. insularis) was first described as Hasseanthus 
blochmaniae ssp. insularis by Reid Moran (1950a) based on a collection 
made at ``Old Ranch Point'' on Santa Rosa Island in 1950. Moran (1953) 
treated Hasseanthus as a subgenus of Dudleya; Hasseanthus had 
previously been segregated from Dudleya on the basis of stem 
characteristics and the presence of vernal (withering) leaves. In so 
doing, he published the new combination Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. 
insularis (Moran 1953). Though Thompson (1993) recently resegregated 
Hasseanthus from Dudleya at the generic level, he provided no new 
evidence for this action. Moreover, given that the base chromosome 
number of Hasseanthus and Dudleya is the same (n=17) and that species 
of Hasseanthus and Dudleya are completely interfertile but will not 
cross with other family genera, splitting these taxa at the generic 
level is inappropriate. As a result, the taxon will be recognized in 
this notice of withdrawal under the name Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. 
    Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis is a small succulent perennial 
in the stonecrop family (Crassulaceae). The plant has a corm-like root 
structure, and 15 to 30 oblanceolate leaves in a basal rosette, from 
which several flowering stems 3 to 7 centimeters (cm) (1.2 to 2.8 
inches (in)) long arise. The white, five-petaled flowers and the 
resulting fruits are fused at the base and wide-spreading distally. 
This subspecies is distinguished from two other mainland subspecies of 
D. blochmaniae on the basis of the more numerous rosette leaves, 
shorter floral stems, more pronounced glaucousness of young floral 
stems and their leaves, and the size and shape of the lower bracts 
(Moran 1950a, Bartel 1993).
    Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis is only known from the type 
locality near Old Ranch Point, also known as Marsh Point, on the east 
end of Santa Rosa Island. The taxon occupies an area of less than 1 
hectare (2 acres) of an

[[Page 41017]]

ancient marine terrace with a cobble surface, and associated with owl's 
clover (Castilleja exserta), goldfields (Lasthenia californica), and 
alien annual grasses, primarily Bromus and Vulpia species. The habitat 
is relatively open with low densities of non-native annual grasses. In 
1993, the number of individuals was estimated to be 2,000 (Rutherford 
and Thomas, pers. obs. 1993). NPS and National Biological Survey (now 
Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey) staff 
established demographic plots in 1994. In 1995 and 1996, the NPS 
erected an electric fence around Skunk Point, including all habitat 
occupied by D. blochmaniae ssp. insularis and a population of the 
federally threatened snowy plover, during the spring and summer seasons 
to eliminate potential damage from cattle. Cattle tracks and droppings 
inside the exclosure indicate that entry has occurred in both years 
(McEachern 1996). However, cattle were removed whenever found within 
the fenced area and were not present long enough to adversely affect D. 
blochmaniae ssp. insularis (Jim Hutton, Island Ranger, pers. comm. 
1996). Breaks in the fence were repaired immediately.
    Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' was collected by Reid Moran in 
1950. In his dissertation on the genus Dudleya, he included it in the 
description of D. greenei, but remarked upon how it differed, and 
described it as ``forma nana.'' Subsequent floras treated the form in 
synonymy with D. greenei (Munz and Keck 1973, Smith 1976). In 1993, 
Paul H. Thomson illegitimately published the name D. nana, based on the 
description of forma nana in Moran's dissertation. An article 
describing this new species has been submitted by Stephen McCabe to the 
journal Madrono. This manuscript has been peer reviewed, the 
description was found to meet the code requirements for valid 
publication, and the reviewers felt that it was a distinct taxon 
(Painter in litt. 1997).
    Like Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis described above, Dudleya 
sp. nov. ``East Point'' is a small succulent perennial in the stonecrop 
family (Crassulaceae). The plant has a short caudex-like stem, and 
small, gray, ovate to oblanceolate leaves in a cluster of up to 20 
basal rosettes, from which several flowering stems 2.5 to 7 cm (1 to 
2.75 in) long arise. The pale yellow, five-petaled flowers are fused at 
the base and spread only at the tips.
    Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' is known only from one population 
comprising three colonies near East Point on Santa Rosa Island. The 
colonies occur on a low windswept ridge with a cobble soil surface, 
which is bereft of any other vegetation save scattered alien annual 
grasses, small-flowered iceplant (Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum), 
pineappleweed (Ambylopappus pusillus), and goldenbush (Lasthenia 
californica). The uppermost colony covers 26 square meters, the middle 
colony covers 88 square meters, and the lowermost colony covers 77 
square meters (McEachern 1994). The total number of individuals in the 
three colonies has been estimated to be 3,200 (S. McCabe, pers. comm. 
1994). In 1994, the NPS constructed a fence around the population to 
reduce browsing and trampling impacts, and to eliminate vehicle access 
to the middle colony. Observations by researchers indicate the 
following: the fencing has excluded cattle but not deer; the number of 
seedling plants was higher in late winter of 1995 than in May, a few 
months later, which may indicate a high seedling recruitment rate but a 
low seedling survivorship rate; and several inflorescences were clipped 
off by an unknown predator, possibly mice or insects (McEachern 1996). 
A low seedling survivorship rate is common among wild plants and is 
unlikely to pose a significant threat to a perennial species, which 
needs only to replace itself once over a period of many years to 
maintain a stable population size. A small fire burned vegetation 
surrounding the lower colony, but did not appear to damage the dudleya 
where the fuels are so light that fire cannot carry through the site.
    Heuchera maxima (island alumroot) was described by E.L. Greene 
(1886a) based on collections from the ``northward slope of Santa Cruz 
Island.'' This nomenclature was retained in the most recent treatment 
of the genus (Elvander 1993). Heuchera maxima is a perennial herb in 
the saxifrage (Saxifragaceae) family. The round basal leaves are up to 
7 cm (2.8 in) broad on long petioles up to 25 cm (10 in) in length. The 
flowering stalks are up to 6.1 decimeters (dm) (2 ft) long and 
scattered with small white-petaled flowers (Hochberg 1980b). No other 
Heuchera species occurs on the islands; however, young plants of H. 
maxima can resemble species of Jepsonia, Lithophragma, or Saxifraga 
that occurs on the islands. Heuchera maxima can be distinguished from 
these other taxa by its larger size at maturity, and flowers with ten 
stamens rather than five.
    Heuchera maxima grows primarily on moist, shady, north-facing 
canyon bottoms, walls, and sea cliffs, but occurs in a few interior 
localities as well. Collections of Heuchera maxima were made from Santa 
Rosa Island by Hoffmann in 1929 and Dunkle in 1939; however, locality 
information for these collections is vague. More recently, the plant 
was collected from Cherry, Lobos, Ranch, and Windmill Canyons on Santa 
Rosa Island (Rutherford and Thomas 1994). It was relocated in three of 
those canyons during the 1994-1996 surveys, during which 27 additional 
populations with up to 150 plants in each were found (McEachern and 
Wilken 1996). H. maxima is also known from 11 locations on West Anacapa 
Island (Rutherford and Thomas 1994; S. Junak, in litt. 1984). On Santa 
Cruz Island, 16 populations with up to 170 plants per population have 
been reported from the west half of the northern shore (McEachern and 
Wilken 1996).

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the July 25, 1995, proposed rule (60 FR 37933) and associated 
notifications, all interested parties were requested to submit factual 
reports or information to be considered in making a final listing 
determination. An initial 75-day comment period closed on October 9, 
1995. A second 30-day comment period closed on February 21, 1997. 
Appropriate Federal and State agencies, local governments, scientific 
organizations, and other interested parties were contacted and asked to 
comment. In accordance with Service policy published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), three appropriate and independent specialists were 
solicited regarding pertinent scientific or commercial data and 
assumptions relating to the proposed rule. Legal notices of the 
availability of the proposed rule were published on August 5, 1995, in 
the Santa Barbara News-Press and on August 11, 1995, in the Los Angeles 
    The Service received 14 letters concerning the proposed rule during 
the comment periods, including those of one State agency and 11 
individuals or groups. Because of the two public comment periods, some 
individuals or groups commented twice. Because the proposed rule 
included 16 plant taxa, only those comments specific to the three taxa 
addressed in this notice are discussed here. Comments not specific to 
these three taxa and general comments relevant to the proposed rule are 
discussed in a separate final rule published in today's Federal 
Register (Vol. 62 No. 147, July 31, 1997).
    The Service has reviewed all of the written comments received 
during both comment periods and status reports and

[[Page 41018]]

population surveys that occurred in between the comment periods. Four 
commenters supported the listing proposal for the three taxa, one 
opposed their listing, and seven stated no specific opinion on the 
three taxa considered herein. Several commenters provided additional 
information and other clarifications that have been incorporated into 
the ``Summary of Factors'' section of this notice. Several comments 
dealt with matters of opinion or legal history, which were not relevant 
to the listing decision. The Service carefully considered all comments 
and information submitted relevant to this decision to withdraw the 
proposed listing. The Service response to those commenters supporting 
listing of these taxa can be found in the ``Summary of Factors'' 
section. Comments submitted are available for review at the Ventura 
Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    The Service must consider five factors described in section 4(a)(1) 
of the Act when determining whether to list a species. These factors, 
and their application to the Service's decision to withdraw the 
proposal to list Dudleya blochmaniae (Eastw.) Moran ssp. insularis 
(Moran) Moran, Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' S. McCabe, and Heuchera 
maxima Greene, are as follows:

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    The single most important loss of resources to insular ecosystems 
is the loss of soils, as the soils are the foundation for the unique 
island ecosystems and the insular endemic species found within them. 
This loss of soils is the result of historic grazing and browsing by 
sheep, goat, cattle, deer, elk, and bison, and rooting by pigs on the 
various islands starting in the early 1800's, and in certain cases, 
continuing today. Fencing installed by the NPS to exclude cattle from 
the two Dudleya taxa populations has significantly reduced the threat 
of soil loss in the habitat of these species. Cattle trampling, 
previously known to remove large numbers of Dudleya sp. nov. ``East 
Point'' plants, is no longer a significant threat. No cattle have 
broken through the fence at East Point. Although cattle have on several 
occasions gained access to the fenced areas through breaks in the fence 
where Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis occurs, NPS staff has 
immediately removed the cattle upon discovery with no adverse impacts. 
Although deer and elk are not excluded by the fencing (Painter, in 
litt., 1997), the Service believes that the impacts of these animals on 
the habitat for the two Dudleya species, in the absence of cattle, do 
not constitute a significant threat to the survival of these taxa. Both 
of the Dudleya populations occur on sites that are not favorable to 
either elk or deer utilization. If elk or deer do enter these areas, it 
is in limited numbers and for brief periods of time. Most of the 
habitat currently occupied by Heuchera maxima is out of reach of the 
effects of the trampling influence of the non-native mammals on the 
islands (McEachern and Wilken 1996).

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    In the horticultural trade, Dudleya have, in particular, been 
favorite collector species. Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' was 
collected and introduced into the horticultural trade long ago as 
``white sprite.'' Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis though not in the 
trade, has been cultivated by Dudleya enthusiasts. While the limited 
distribution of these two taxa makes them of interest to such 
enthusiasts, in the absence of the larger combined threats of cattle 
trampling, collection alone does not pose a significant threat to these 
species. Heuchera maxima is also found in cultivation. Although the 
extent of collection of this taxon is uncertain, the Service believes 
that the threat from overcollection is insignificant given the number 
of populations of the species that are now known.

C. Disease or Predation

    Disease is not known to be a factor affecting the taxa considered 
in this rule. Grazing by cattle was identified as a threat in the 
proposed rule. Consumption of individual plants by grazing animals has 
been known to impact the reproduction of these plants and has had other 
effects, such as trampling, erosion (see Factor A) and the introduction 
of non-native species (see Factor E). The fencing constructed to 
protect Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis and Dudleya sp. nov. ``East 
Point'' populations from cattle has reduced the level of herbivory on 
these two taxa to where it no longer constitutes a significant threat 
to the survival of these species. The majority of the Heuchera maxima 
occur out of the reach of the effects of most non-native mammals on the 
islands (McEachern and Wilken 1996).

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Service evaluated existing Federal, State, and local regulatory 
mechanisms prior to preparing the proposed rule for listing the two 
plant taxa. The Service found evidence of inadequacy of the existing 
regulatory mechanisms at that time. These regulatory mechanisms 
included: (1) Listing under the California Endangered Species Act 
(CESA); (2) the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); (3) conservation provisions 
under section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act and Section 1603 of 
the California Fish and Game Code; (4) occurrence with other species 
protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act; (5) land acquisition 
and management by Federal, State, or local agencies, or by private 
groups and organizations; and (6) local laws and regulations. The 
Service believes that actions taken by the NPS for the protection of 
Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis and Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' 
are sufficient to assure that regulatory mechanisms are adequate to 
protect these two plant taxa. Heuchera maxima is now known to be 
present in a sufficient number of populations (McEachern and Wilken 
1996) so that any inadequacies of these regulatory mechanisms no longer 
pose a significant threat to this species.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Introduced species of grasses and forbs have invaded many of 
California's plant communities. Such weedy species can displace the 
native flora by out-competing them for nutrients, water, light, and 
space. Weedy plant invasions are facilitated by disturbances such as 
grazing, developments, and various recreational activities.
    Grazing by livestock typically changes the composition of native 
plant communities by reducing or eliminating species that cannot 
withstand trampling and predation (see Factors A and C), and enabling 
more resistant (usually alien) plant species to increase in abundance. 
Seed from non-sterile hay and animal feces increases the likelihood of 
invasion of exotic species and prevents re-establishment of native 
plants. Exotic species may flourish with grazing and may reduce or 
eliminate native plant species through competition for resources. The 
invasion of non-native species into the habitats of Dudleya blochmaniae 
ssp. insularis and Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' was cited as a 
significant threat to these populations in the proposed rule

[[Page 41019]]

primarily due to the ongoing effects of alien mammals on these 
habitats. Due to the fencing installed by the NPS, these impacts have 
been reduced to the point that they no longer pose a significant threat 
to the survival of these taxa. With over 50 recently reported 
populations, Heuchera maxima is now known to occur in greater abundance 
than was previously known and, due to the discovery of these additional 
populations, the Service believes that this species is no longer 
threatened with extinction.
    Because Dudleya blochmaniae ssp. insularis and Dudleya sp. nov. 
``East Point'' are both known only from single populations with few 
individuals, they remain vulnerable to extinction due to random events, 
such as drought, and storms. Neither taxon has ever been reported to 
occur at any locality other than the single sites to which it is 
currently restricted. Pro-active recovery efforts to lessen the threat 
of such random events typically involve the establishment of additional 
populations, but Service policy precludes the introduction of listed 
species outside their historic range without specific approval from the 
Director. To lessen the vulnerability of these taxa to random events, 
the NPS has proposed to establish a seed banking program (NPS 1997). 
Because of the low probability of such a random event taking place, the 
significance of the threat from such an event in the absence of other 
factors, is insufficient to warrant listing of these species. Heuchera 
maxima is now known to occur in sufficient numbers that threats 
resulting from few, small populations are no longer of concern.

Finding and Withdrawal

    After a thorough review and consideration of all information 
available the Service has determined that listing of Dudleya 
blochmaniae ssp. insularis, Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' and 
Heuchera maxima as endangered is no longer warranted. The Service has 
carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information 
available in the development of this withdrawal notice. Fencing 
installed by the NPS since the time of the proposed rule has 
sufficiently reduced the threats of soil loss, trampling and herbivory 
by cattle and non-native mammals, and the invasion of competitive alien 
weeds into habitat of the two dudleya species so that listing is no 
longer warranted. Other factors cited in the proposed rule, including 
overcollection, inadequate regulatory mechanisms, and extinction from 
random events, are of insufficient magnitude to warrant listing in the 
absence of any significant threat from other factors. Heuchera maxima 
is now known to occur in more than 50 populations and the Service now 
believes that this species is no longer threatened with extinction. A 
final rule listing the other 13 plant taxa included in the original 
proposed rule is published in the Federal Register concurrently with 
this notice of withdrawal of the proposal to list Dudleya blochmaniae 
ssp. insularis, Dudleya sp. nov. ``East Point'' and Heuchera maxima.

References Cited

    A list of all references cited herein is available upon request 
from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ventura Field Office (see 
ADDRESSES section).
    Author: The primary author of this withdrawal notice is Tim Thomas, 
Ventura Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).


    The authority for this action is section 4(b)(6)(B)(ii) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    Dated: July 24, 1997
John G. Rogers,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 97-20132 Filed 7-30-97; 8:45 am]