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LISTING ACTIONS.

During October and November 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published the following proposed and final Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing actions in the Federal Register:

Listing Proposals

Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) Although the short-tailed albatross has been listed by the FWS as endangered since 1970, an administrative error led to its listing only as a foreign species. At present, it breeds only on several Japanese islands, but this bird ranges throughout the northern Pacific Ocean and north into the Bering Sea during the nonbreeding season. Although there currently are no known breeding populations in the United States, the short-tailed albatross has been sighted in Alaskan waters, at Midway in the Hawaiian Islands, and along the west coast of North America as far south as the Baja Peninsula, Mexico. Originally numbering in the millions, the worldwide population of the short-tailed albatross has declined to fewer than 1,000. On November 2, 1998, the FWS published a proposal to extend ESA protection to this species within U.S. territory.

`Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwhichensis ibidis) Once one of the most common endemic forest birds on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, the 'elepaio has been eliminated from over 90 percent of its range. The most recent population estimate for this subspecies indicates that only 200 to 500 birds remain. The 'elepaio's decline was caused by: habitat loss and degradation; predation by non-native mammals; introduced avian disease; competition from alien birds; and the spread of exotic plants, which dramatically altered the structure and diversity of native forests. Because of these continuing threats, the FWS proposed on October 6, 1998, to list the `elepaio as endangered.

Two Aquatic Snails Two species of aquatic snails found only in Limestone County, Alabama, were proposed on October 28 for listing as endangered. The armored snail (Pyrgulopsis (=Marstonia) pachyta) and slender campelona (Campeloma decampi) are in a particularly precarious position, being restricted to a few isolated sites along two or three short stream reaches. Threats to the quality of their aquatic habitat include siltation, agricultural runoff, and other changes in water chemistry. The slender campelona already has been eliminated from at least three-quarters of its historical distribution.

Dismal Swamp Southeastern Shrew (Sorex longirostris fisheri) In 1986, the FWS listed the Dismal Swamp southeastern shrew as threatened, based on information that this small mammal was restricted in range and reduced in numbers by habitat loss. Since that time, however, the FWS has received new data indicating that this subspecies has a wider distribution in Virginia and North Carolina than originally known and is not in danger. Accordingly, on October 21, 1998, the FWS proposed to remove the Dismal Swamp southeastern shrew from the threatened species list.

Final Listing Rules

Five California Desert Plants Five plant taxa in the pea family (Fabaceae), all restricted to the Sonoran, Mojave, and Great Basin deserts of California, were given ESA protection on October 6, 1998. The three considered most vulnerable to extinction were listed as endangered:

* Lane Mountain milk-vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus),

* Coachella Valley milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae), and

* triple-ridged milk-vetch (Astragalus tricarinatus). Because the danger facing the other two plants is not as immediate, they were listed as threatened:

* Fish Slough milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginous var. piscinensis) and

* Peirson's milk-vetch (Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii).

The remaining habitat of all five plants is threatened by mining, urbanization, off-road vehicle use, pipeline maintenance practices, and wetland alteration.

Four California Wetland Plants Four plant taxa native to vernal pools and certain other wetlands in southwestern California and northwestern Baja California, Mexico, received ESA protection on October 13, 1998. The two in greatest peril were listed as endangered:

* Munz's onion (Allium munzii), a perennial herb in the lily family (Liliaceae) and

* San Jacinto Valley crownscale (Atriplex coronata var. notatior), an annual in the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae).

The other two wetland plants were listed as threatened:

* thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia), a perennial herb in the lily family, and

* spreading navarretia (Navarretia fossalis), an annual herb in the phlox family (Polemoniaceae).

All four plants face habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation resulting from: urban and agricultural development, pipeline construction, alteration of wetland hydrology, off-road vehicle use, livestock grazing, weed abatement, and competition from nonnative plants.

Four Southwestern California Plants Another suite of plants native to southwestern California and northwestern Baja California, Mexico, also received ESA protection on October 13. One plant was listed as endangered:

* willowy monardella (Monardella linoides ssp. viminea), a perennial herb in the mint family (Lamiaceae).

The three other plants were listed as threatened:

* San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia), an annual herb in the mint family,

* Laguna Beach dudleya (Dudleya stolonifera), a succulent perennial in the stonecrop family (Crassulaceae), and

* Otay tarplant (Hemizonia conjugens), an annual in the sunflower family (Asteraceae).

These four plants occur in coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and other grassland habitats. They are threatened by habitat loss, competition from non-native plants, off-road vehicle use, mining, grazing, and trampling by hikers.

Three California Chaparral/Scrub Plants A separate listing package, also published on October 13, extended ESA protection to three plants that are native to scrub and chaparral plant communities and are, in some cases, endemic to specific types of clay soils. Two of the taxa were listed as endangered:

* Nevin's barberry (Berberis nevinii), an evergreen shrub in the barberry family (Berberidaceae) and

* Mexican flannelbush (Fremontodendron mexicanum), an evergreen shrub or small tree in the cacao family (Sterculiaceae).

The third plant was listed as threatened:

* Vail Lake ceanothus (Ceanothus ophiochilus), a shrub in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae).

These three species are threatened by habitat loss, nonnative plants, off-road vehicle use, and the disruption of natural fire cycles. The original listing proposal for these plants also recommended ESA protection for a fourth plant, but this species was found not to need listing protection (see WITHDRAWALS below).

Virginia Sneezeweed (Helenium virginicum) This perennial in the aster family is restricted to seasonally inundated sinkhole ponds and meadows within Augusta and Rockingham counties in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Residential development, incompatible agricultural practices, filling and ditching of wetlands, and other threats to the plant's habitat led the FWS to list the Virginia sneezeweed as threatened on November 3, 1998.

Six Aquatic Snails Six species of aquatic snails found only in localized portions of the Black Warrior, Cahaba, Alabama, and Coosa rivers or their tributaries in central Alabama received ESA protection on October 28. Three of these species were listed as endangered:

* cylindrical lioplax (Lioplax cyclostomaformis),

* flat pebblesnail (Lepyrium showalteri), and

* plicate rocksnail (Leptoxis plicata). The other three snails were listed as threatened:

* painted rocksnail (Leptoxis taeniata),

* round rocksnail (Leptoxis ampla), and

* lacy elimia (Elimia crenatella).

All six of these aquatic snails depend on clean, free-flowing stream habitats for their survival. Impoundments and water pollution have eliminated the snails from 90 percent or more of their historic range. The surviving populations are threatened by sediments and excess nutrients that wash into the streams.

Arkansas River Shiner (Notropis girardi) The Arkansas River shiner is a small fish found in the Canadian River in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas and the Cimarron River in Kansas and Oklahoma. Both rivers are within the Arkansas River drainage, which gave this species its common name. Modification or destruction of habitat due to water diversions, groundwater pumping, construction of impoundments, and water pollution, along with competition from a non-native fish, originally led the FWS to propose listing the Arkansas River shiner as endangered. Additional data gathered since publication of the listing proposal indicate that the danger to this fish, while serious, is not as immediate as originally thought; therefore, the November 28 final listing rule classified the shiner as threatened rather than endangered. An introduced, non-native population of Arkansas River shiners in the Pecos River, New Mexico, is not protected under this decision.

Withdrawals

Two California Plants On October 6, 1998, the FWS withdrew a 1992 proposal to list two plant taxa native to California deserts, the shining milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. micans) and Sodaville milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. sesquimetralis). Subsequent to publication of the listing proposal, important habitat for both species gained protection after being transferred to wilderness management at Death Valley National Park.

San Xavier Talussnail (Sonorella eremita) In 1994, the FWS proposed to list this land snail, which is known only from a single hillside in Pima County, Arizona, as an endangered species. Since that time, the FWS has entered into a conservation agreement with the landowner that should ensure the long-term protection of this site and the snail. With potential threats to the habitat removed, the FWS withdrew the listing proposal on October 6, 1998.

Dehesa Beargrass (Nolina interrata) The original proposal to list the "three California chaparral/scrub plants" (see FINAL RULES above) included a proposal to list a fourth species, the Dehesa beargrass, as threatened. However, after a review of additional data, FWS biologists found that ESA protection for this species is not warranted, and the proposal for the Dehesa beargrass was withdrawn on October 13.
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Publication:Endangered Species Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 1999
Words:1484
Previous Article:THE ESA AT TWENTY-FIVE.
Next Article:ON THE WEB.
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