North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Environmental Assessment (EA) - Full Version - PDF - 750KB

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) - PDF - 310KB

Environmental Action Statement (EAS) - PDF - 165KB

Federal Register Notice (Rule)

Questions and Answers on Designation of Kings Bay Manatee Refuge

Kings Bay manatee data files

Literature Cited - PDF - 30KB

News Release

USFWS Brief for Local Congressional, County, and City Officials (Slide with notes) - March 15, 2012 - PDF - 1.25MB

USFWS Brief for Manatee Forum (Slides with notes) - April 12, 2012 - PDF - 1.23MB

USFWS Brief for Dive Shop Owners at CRNWR "End of Season" Meeting (Slide with Notes) - April 27, 2012 - PDF 1.25KB


Modify Existing Manatees Protection Measures
in Kings Bay, Citrus County, Florida

Environmental Assessment
With Finding of No Significant Impact

Prepared by:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
North Florida Ecological Services Office

November 2011

Executive Summary

The U.S. Fish and Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes to modify the existing network of manatee protection areas within the waters of Kings Bay, located partially within the city limits of the City of Crystal River and wholly within Citrus County, Florida.  Kings Bay is the primary wintering site for endangered Florida manatees in northwest Florida, a region that supports about 12 percent of the entire population of this subspecies.  Manatees are attracted to Kings Bay’s warm spring waters which they use as a thermal refuge during the winter months.

Visitors and local residents are also attracted to Kings Bay’s waters.  They come to see manatees and engage in other waterborne activities throughout the year.  Recreationists view wintering manatees while snorkeling, skin diving, and SCUBA diving, and view them from boats, including kayaks, canoes, motorboats, and other conveyances.  Other waterborne activities that take place on Kings Bay waters include boating, fishing, water skiing, swimming, as well as non-manatee related skin- and SCUBA -diving.  Some manatees are harassed by the actions of recreationists viewing manatees.  Manatees may also be harassed indirectly by the presence of large numbers of recreationists, whose sheer numbers may unintentionally displace manatees.  Manatees are also injured and killed in Kings Bay as a consequence of other waterborne activities.

To minimize the take of manatees, the Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission or FWC) created a network of sanctuaries and speed restrictions in Kings Bay to provide manatees with undisturbed wintering sites and safe travel corridors in waters shared with the public.  These measures are supplemented with law enforcement efforts, a special use permitting program on National Wildlife Refuge property for manatee tour operators and videographers, and extensive, local education and outreach efforts.  All measures are consistent with Federal and State authorities used to minimize the take of manatees.  The Service manages this network in Kings Bay through its Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge (Crystal River NWR).  The Commission supports these management efforts through its Imperiled Species Management Section and law enforcement activities.

The number of reported cases of manatee harassment and manatees killed or injured due to human activities (takings) has increased concurrent with growing numbers of local residents and visitors, numbers of registered boats, increasing numbers of manatees, and the relatively recent presence of manatees throughout the year.  To meet the purpose and need of the proposed action, the Service’s Preferred Alternative is the designation of Kings Bay as a manatee refuge, under the authorities of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended, and their implementing regulations.

A variety of alternatives were considered when developing this recommendation. Considered alternatives included: modifying the existing network of manatee sanctuaries and speed restrictions; revising Federal regulations to include better takings definitions; and enhancing existing education and outreach activities with enhanced materials and programs. After a thorough analysis of all of the alternatives developed along with consideration of the public input received during the public involvement process, the Service has determined that Alternative F, which establishes a manatee refuge in Kings Bay, satisfies the purpose and need of the proposed action and is practicable and feasible to accomplish our goal.


Environmental Assessment (EA) - Full Version - PDF - 750KB

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) - PDF - 310KB

Environmental Action Statement (EAS) - PDF - 165KB

Federal Register Notice (Rule)

Questions and Answers on Designation of Kings Bay Manatee Refuge

Kings Bay manatee data files

Literature Cited - PDF - 30KB

News Release

USFWS Brief for Local Congressional, County, and City Officials (Slide with notes) - March 15, 2012 - PDF - 1.25MB

USFWS Brief for Manatee Forum (Slides with notes) - April 12, 2012 - PDF - 1.23MB

USFWS Brief for Dive Shop Owners at CRNWR "End of Season" Meeting (Slide with Notes) - April 27, 2012 - PDF 1.25KB


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Last updated: May 1, 2013