NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY AND REQUEST FOR COMMENTS:
Environmental Assessment for Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Proposed Conservation Actions Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems in Georgia and Alabama.
January 21, 2014
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Ecological Services Field Offices of Alabama and Georgia, announce the availability for public review and comment a programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA) for proposed conservation actions restoring and managing longleaf pine ecosystems in Georgia and Alabama. The EA describes selection criteria and a suite of habitat restoration practices, with associated conservation measures, that we propose for Partners projects in Alabama and Georgia to benefit the gopher tortoise. Under this program, we would seek landowners with properties that are near existing populations of gopher tortoises and could support this species who are willing to implement the restoration practices, with Service financial and technical assistance, for a minimum of 20 years. We believe that our proposed program would result in population increases for gopher tortoises, tortoise-commensal species, and other species associated with longleaf pine forests.
DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by February 21, 2014.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, or requests for copies or more information, by any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or a CD-ROM of the document.
PUBLIC AVAILABILITY OF DOCUMENTS: In addition to requesting a copy of the EA by any of the methods in ADDRESSES, you can view or obtain the EA at our web sites:
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Holbrook, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 251-441-5871; Shannon_holbrook@fws.gov
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes Threatened Status and Critical Habitat Designation for the Georgia Rockcress
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the Georgia rockcress as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Only found in Georgia and Alabama, the plant has been a candidate for listing as a Threatened species since 2000.At the same time, the Service also is proposing to designate about 786 acres of river bluff habitat as the plant’s critical habitat. The proposed critical habitat areas in Georgia include lands in Gordon, Floyd, Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, and Clay Counties. In Alabama, the proposed critical habitat designation includes areas in Bibb, Dallas, Elmore, Monroe, Russell, Sumter and Wilcox Counties.
Press Release (.pdf)
Proposed Listing Rule (.pdf)
Service releases draft economic analysis for Coastal Beach Critical Habitat previously proposed for the Recovery of Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is releasing the estimated cost and economic impacts of its proposal to designate terrestrial critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic population of loggerhead sea turtles in coastal areas of six southeastern U.S. states.
The draft economic analysis considered the potential impact of the designation on various sectors of the economy. On average, of the potential annual $150,000 costs associated with the designation, 46% would be borne by the Service, 38% by other Federal Agency costs, and the remaining 16% to the project proponents. These proponents could include counties doing beach nourishment projects, or private or corporate applicants doing some type of beach construction.
In association with the Notice of Availability, which publishes in the Federal Register tomorrow, the Service has in response to public requests also scheduled three public hearings: August 6 in Charleston, SC; August 7 in Wilmington, NC and August 8 in Morehead City, NC. See the notice and press release for full details.
The Service is also re-opening the public comment period for 60 days on the proposal and the associated draft economic analysis.
Written comments and materials concerning the economic analysis or any aspect of the proposed critical habitat designation may be submitted electronically (preferred) at http://www.regulations.gov under docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103 or via mail to Public Comments Processing; Attn: Docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
All electronic comments must be received by 11:59 PM, September 16, 2013. Comments and materials submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than September 16, 2013. All comments must include a first and last name, city, state, country and zip code.
Comments and information previously submitted need not be resubmitted; these will beincorporated with all other comments and considered in making the final decision.
Direct link to submit comments via regulations.gov
Draft Economic Analysis Report - PDF - 1.8MB
Federal Register Notice for Proposed Critical Habitat (text) - PDF version - 9.44MB
Click here for more information on the Draft Economic Analysis Report or the Proposed Critical Habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Endangered Species Act Protection and Critical Habitat Designation for Three Plants in the Southeast
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list three plants as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. At the same time, the Service also proposes to designate critical habitat for these species. Those plants are Short’s bladderpod, whorled sunflower, and fleshy-fruit gladecress. Collectively, these plants occur in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Alabama.
News Release (.pdf)
Frequently Asked Questions (.pdf)
Proposed Listing Rule (.pdf)
Recovering the robust redhorse - a fish once thought to be extinct
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Georgia Power, the State of Georgia, the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners to recover the robust redhorse—a fish once thought to be extinct. Click HERE to watch a video about the effort.
Stream Crossing Initiative
Athens ES Office embarks on a stream crossing initiative to make stream crossings more passable by fish and other wildlife.
Stream-road crossings can impede the upstream and downstream movement of aquatic organisms, including fish, salamanders, and invertebrates. Consequently, the US Army Corps of Engineers worked with state and federal natural resource agencies to develop specific Regional Conditions that are intended to minimize impacts to fish passage following the construction of crossings. This website offers valuable resources to those wanting to learn more about the importance of fish passage, general methods that can be used to minimize impacts to streams, and guidance to those that are applying for permits to build culverts and bridges. Examples of fish passable and impassable crossings are provided, along with a fact sheet that describes this initiative.