Service Re-opens Comment Period for the Georgia Rockcress Proposed Listing and Critical Habitat and Announces Economic AnalysisThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the availability of the draft economic analysis for the proposed critical habitat designation for the Georgia rockcress. At the same time, the Service is re-opening the comment period for the proposed listing and associated proposed critical habitat designation for 30 days through June 10, 2014. The public is invited to submit comments on either issue.
Only about 5,000 individual rockcress plants still exist, and the plant is proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The rockcress is only found in Georgia and Alabama, where the Service is proposing to designate about 793 acres along river bluffs as critical habitat. The proposed critical habitat designations are located in Gordon, Floyd, Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, and Clay Counties, Georgia, and; in Bibb, Dallas, Elmore, Monroe, Russell, Sumter and Wilcox Counties in Alabama. The rockcress occurs in each of the areas proposed for designation as critical habitat
A public information meeting and hearing concerning the draft economic analysis, as well as the proposals for listing and critical habitat for the rockcress, is scheduled at Columbus State University,4225 University Avenue, Magnolia Room, , in Columbus, Georgia. The meeting will take place on May 28, 2014, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The public is invited to attend and provide comments. People needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend or participate in this hearing should contact the field office at 706/613-9493, as soon as possible.
The proposed listing and designation of critical habitat for the rockcress and the associated draft economic analysis are part of the Service’s efforts to implement a court-approved work plan aimed at addressing a series of lawsuits concerning the agency’s ESA listing program. The intent of the agreement is to significantly reduce a litigation-driven workload. The Georgia rockcress has been a candidate for listing since 1999.Read more...
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.