North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Threatened and Endangered Species: Green sea turtle conservation recognized

Services propose reclassification into 11 Distinct Population Segments for Green Sea Turtle along Florida and Pacific Coasts - Comment Period Extended

NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to reclassify the green sea turtle under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and list turtles originating from two breeding populations currently considered endangered as threatened due to improvements in their populations.

After a review of the global status of green sea turtles, the agencies are proposing to reclassify the species into 11 Distinct Population Segments (DPS) under the ESA, which maintains federal protections while providing a more tailored approach for managers to address specific threats facing different populations. Years of coordinated conservation efforts have resulted in increasing numbers of turtles nesting in Florida and along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. As a result, the agencies are proposing threatened rather than endangered status for the two DPS that encompass those breeding populations.

More information about the 11 DPS and the proposed status of each population can be found here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/green.htm. The Florida and Mexican Pacific Coast breeding populations are encompassed within the North Atlantic and East Pacific DPS respectively.

Green sea turtle populations will continue to be protected under the ESA.

The agencies are in an extended public comment period for this proposal to gather new information relevant to the status change. This includes potential critical habitat for the green sea turtle and information that will help ensure that the final determination is based on the best available scientific and commercial information. Critical habitat in Puerto Rico that was designated in 1998 is proposed to remain in effect for the North Atlantic DPS. The deadline for comments was recently extended a second time to September 25, 2015; see link below for notice.

Submit comments, information or data on this document, identified by the code NOAA-NMFS-2012-0154 via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0154, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

Media contacts:
Kate Brogan (NOAA Fisheries) at 301-427-8030 or 202-603-9651 (cell)
Brian Hires (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) at 703-358-2191

Extension of Comment Period Notice Exiting icon

For more information Exiting icon


Threatened and Endangered Species: Public comment sought on management proposal

Service Proposes Winter Restrictions on Swimming, Paddling with Manatees at Florida's Three Sisters Springs in Citrus County

Female manatee and nursing calf

Manatee calf nursing

Photo: USFWS

New long-term management steps are being proposed to address record numbers of manatees wintering in Three Sisters Springs and substantial increases in the number of people wanting to see these endangered animals in their natural habitat.

The Service outlined three management alternatives in a draft Environmental Assessment (draft EA) it released August 5, 2015 ranging from no change to current practices, to limiting swimming opportunities, and halting all in-water viewing. The draft EA examines protection measures under each alternative and proposes to move forward with Alternative C - an option that significantly limits, but does not altogether prohibit swimming with manatees. These rules would be in effect each year from November 15 to March 31.

One of the additional measures being proposed to further protect manatees reduces the number of commercial special use permit holders allowed to access Three Sisters Springs from the current 44 to five beginning this fall. A competitive process for applicants would be established as outlined in the appendices to the draft EA. An annual administrative fee is being proposed for the five tour operators who could access the springs and would range between $970 and $1,200. The additional proposed management steps would only apply to the 57-acre Three Sisters Springs cooperatively managed by the Service, the City of Crystal River, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The public is invited to comment on these proposals within a 30-day comment period ending September 4. Comments may be e-mailed to crystalriver@fws.gov. Also, to provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the proposed measures, ask questions, and submit their written comments in person, the Service will hold an informational meeting on August 12, 2015, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Plantation Inn (Sable Room), 9301 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, Florida, 34429.

Press Release Exiting icon

Questions and Asnwers (PDF - 98KB) Exiting icon

Draft Environmental Assessment (PDF- 6.0MB) Exiting icon

For more Informaion visit the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge website Exiting icon


 

Updated Wood Stork Map and Mapping Data Available

Wood storks and chicks on nest

Nesting Wood storks

Photo: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed updating the mapping information for Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) nesting colonies and core forging areas in Florida and the Southeastern U.S. The updated information reflects data from 2005 through 2014, and includes an updated PDF map, GIS shapefiles, and versions of the data compatible with Google Earth. The updated data files are available via the link below and on our Consultant/Landowner Tools reference page.

Wood stork Information


 

Changes made to ESA Section 7 consultation
request for FEMA CLOMR and CLOMR-F letters

FEMA is no longer accepting a programmatic clearance letter in support of Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) and CLOMR_F Letters of Request. As such, the North Florida FWS programmatic clearance letter is no longer available. FEMA now requires consultation letters be specific to each project. Public and private landowners, project managers/planners, and/or consultants now need to submit a clearance request to the Service and FEMA for each project.

Originally designed to assist private small parcel landowners and businesses, the programmatic clearance letter outlined details and specific scenarios and criteria where additional Service review was not considered necessary.

The Service's North Florida ES staff is providing updated information to aid project proponents in their development of a clearance request. See detailed requirements and preferred submission method via link below.

Details Available


Threatened and Endangered Species: Update Permit Conditions

Service posts updated permit conditions for captive sea turtles

Juvenile Hawksbill sea turtle being held.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Photo: USFWS

Individuals and institutions possessing a Service permit to hold captive sea turtles must meet new permit conditions.

The updated Standard Permit Conditions encompass the transport, rehabilitation, and disposition of sea turtles.

Details for the new conditions can be found on the Landowner/Consultant Tools and Sea Turtle information pages.

Frequently Asked Questions on Sea Turtle Permits


Service makes updated Skink Guidance Available

Sand Skink

Sand skink.

Photo: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has revised the conservation guidelines and survey protocol for the threatened sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) and blue-tailed mole skink (Eumeces egregius lividus). The updated information is available via the link below and on our Consultant/Landowner Tools reference page.

Skink Information


Updated Eastern indigo snake protocols for North & Central Florida

Eastern Indigo Snake

Eastern Indgio Snake
Photo: USFWS

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's North Florida Ecological Services Office (NFESO) updated its Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) protocols. The updated survey protocols provide consultants and landowners a project planning tool to improve the Service's review of permit applications and proposed land clearing activities for potential effects on the federally-threatened eastern indigo snake. The tool is applicable to the NFESFO geographic area of responsibility, which includes the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, St. Johns, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, and Volusia.

Click here for to review the new information


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Last updated: August 26, 2015