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North Florida Field Office

News Release

For Immediate Release

Date: June 29, 2001
Release #: 008-01
Media Contact: Chuck Underwood, 904-731-3332

Proposed Designation of Federal Refuges and
Sanctuaries for Florida Manatees
postponed an additional 30 days

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the parties in the lawsuit Save the Manatee Club, et al. v. Ballard, et al have agreed to a third extension to the time line by which the Federal agency must complete a proposed rule for new manatee refuges and sanctuaries throughout peninsular Florida. The new publication date is August 3, 2001.

The decision to extend the deadline comes after numerous discussions and meetings between the Service and the staffs of Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Governor's office. The Commission is working on a comprehensive plan for manatee protection as part of its own manatee lawsuit settlement. The Service felt the State's proposed plan and actions taken to date provide considerable safeguards for the species and takes a balanced approach by addressing public concerns and needs in their development process. As such, the Service requested and received concurrence in the extension to allow more time for the two agencies to continue to work together.

"Florida has shown considerable leadership in proposing and taking positive, balanced actions toward establishing long-term protections for the manatee," said Dave Hankla, field supervisor for the Service's Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office. "This additional postponement of a federal proposal reflects our commitment to support the State in their actions. We continue to believe this will allow us to work toward a balance that can better serve Florida's public interests, as well as those of the manatee."

The Service's position has long been that the State of Florida should be the primary regulatory authority in State waters to conserve manatees, have the responsibility to identify protective areas for

manatees, and establish manatee speed zones in Florida. The Service and State are committed to working together to ensure comprehensive planning and coordination for the overall protection of the manatee.

Information on Florida manatee protection and recovery is available at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

- FWS -

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov


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Last modified January 14, 2004