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Tuesday, March 12, 2024
FWS Designates 119,326 acres as critical habitat on Big Island
By News Release @ 4:58 PM :: 1603 Views :: Hawaii County , Environment, Land Use

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Critical Habitat for 12 Hawaiʻi Island Species

News release from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mar 11, 2024

HONOLULU — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating critical habitat for 12 species, all found only on Hawaiʻi island. All 12 species are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The final rule incorporates changes from the March 29, 2023, proposed rule (Docket# FWS-R1-ES-2023-0017) based on information received during the 60-day public comment period.

Approximately 119,326 acres of federal, state, private, and public lands are being designated as critical habitat for 12 species, meaning these areas have been identified as essential for the conservation of one or more of the species. The earlier proposed designation of critical habitat also included the loulu palm (Pritchardia lanigera) and ʻopāe pond shrimp (Vetericaris chaceorum); however, the Service has determined designation for these species is not be prudent due to concerns related to potential collection from the wild.

Of the 12 species addressed in the proposal, 11 are plants and one is a picture-wing fly. The critical habitat occurs across six ecosystems on the island of Hawaiʻi: mesic forest, mesic grasslands and shrublands, wet forest, wet grasslands and shrublands, coastal, and dry forest. Each species faces threats of habitat loss and degradation due to introduced ungulates, fire, drought, habitat-modifying invasive plants, and predation from non-native insects.

“We grouped the 12 species in this designation based on their interconnectedness and reliance on ecosystems found only on the island of Hawaiʻi,” said Lasha-Lynn Salbosa, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office listing and classification manager.

The following is a short description of each species, alphabetized by scientific name.

  • Bidens hillebrandiana ssp. hillebrandiana (koʻokoʻolau) is a short-lived perennial herb that occurs in coastal and dry cliff ecosystems on rocky substrate near the shoreline. It is found on the windward eastern coast of Kohala near the northern tip of the island.
  • Cyanea marksii(hāhā) is a short-lived perennial, shrub or palm-like tree and is found on the west side of the island in the district of South Kona.
  • Cyanea tritomantha (‘akū) is a palm-like shrub distributed across the windward slopes of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kīlauea, and the Kohala Mountains.
  • Cyrtandra nanawaleensis (ha‘iwale) is a shrub or small tree found in wet forest ecosystems in the Puna district.
  • Cyrtandra wagneri (ha‘iwale, kanawao ke‘oke‘o) is a shrub or small tree found in wet forest ecosystems along the northeast side of the island.
  • Melicope remyi (no common name) is a long-lived perennial shrub found on the windward slopes of the Kohala Mountains and Mauna Kea.
  • Phyllostegia floribunda (no common name) is a perennial shrub found in mesic forest and wet forest ecosystems along the eastern side of the island.
  • Pittosporum hawaiiense (hōʻawa, hāʻawa) is a small tree found in mesic and wet ecosystems on the island. 
  • Schiedea diffusa ssp. macraei (no common name) is a perennial climbing herb found in the wet forest ecosystem of the Kohala Mountains and the windward slopes of Mauna Loa.
  • Schiedea hawaiiensis (māʻoliʻoli) is a perennial herb, and at the time of listing, occurs only at a single site in dry forest habitat between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea mountains.
  • Stenogyne cranwelliae (no common name) is a vine found in the Kohala Mountains in wet forest habitat.
  • Drosophila digressa (Hawaiʻi picture-wing fly) has historically been found in five locations on the island in elevations from 2,000 to 4,500 feet in mesic forest and wet forest habitats.

Critical habitat is a tool of the ESA that supports the continued conservation of imperiled species by guiding cooperation within the federal government. Identifying critical habitat also informs landowners and the public which specific areas are important to a species’ conservation and recovery. The Service can also make the determination to not designate critical habitat when a designation would likely increase the threat of collection, vandalism, or incidental habitat degradation.

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SA: Habitat set aside for 12 endangered Big Island species

CN: Hawaii species gain almost 120,000 acres on Big Island for critical habitats

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