North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Draft Economic Analysis for the Proposal to Designated
Terrestrial Critical Habitat for the Northwest Atlantic
Population of Loggerhead Sea turtles
Questions and Answers

Q: What types of activities did the draft economic analysis consider?

A: The draft economic analysis quantifies economic impacts of loggerhead conservation efforts associated with the following categories of activity:

  • species and habitat management,
  • in-water and coastal construction,
  • sand placement,
  • recreation,
  • lighting management,
  • disaster response, and
  • oil and gas activities.

It also addresses how potential economic impacts are likely to be distributed.

Q: Are costs really as low as outlined in the draft Environmental Assessment? Why?

A: Where critical habitat is proposed for occupied habitat of a listed species costs associated with the designation are minimal as we already consult and incorporate special management practices/considerations into those project reviews.  We are not proposing terrestrial critical habitat in unoccupied habitat as we determined what has been proposed is adequate for the conservation of the species.

Q: I read in news reports and editorials that the designation would severely impact beach access and nourishment projects causing major economic impacts.  Yet, your draft EA seems to counter that position, why and how?

A: Many of the reports and editorials focused only on that portion of the proposal where the Service identified threats to sea turtle nesting habitat, yet overlooked the additional sections of the proposal outlining what we already know is being done to minimize or mitigate for those threats.

A lot of very good work is already being done on most, if not all, of the locations proposed for designation as terrestrial critical habitat.  The designation, if finalized as proposed, furthers that effort by providing federal agencies and conservation managers an additional tool to help them focus limited resources on those areas of greatest conservation value for loggerhead sea turtle recovery.

Q: When doing the economic impact analysis, are existing Critical Habitat designations already in in place taken into account?

A: No, the draft economic analysis does not take into account existing Critical Habitat.  In part, because while some measures can be implemented for one species that would also benefit another, that is not 100% true in most cases.

Q:  There is already considerable critical habitat designated on many of these beaches for other species such as the piping plover.  As such, why is it necessary to propose designating these same beaches as critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles?

A: There is overlap between the piping plover and the loggerhead but there are also differences.  For example, piping plover and sea turtle use the habitats differently and at different times. As such, what works for one species may not work for another.

Q:  Is there an opportunity for the public to comment on the draft economic analysis?

A:  Yes, the public was encouraged to submit written comments and materials concerning the economic analysis or any aspect of the proposed critical habitat designation electronically at http://www.regulations.gov under docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103.  Alternatively, comments and materials may be mailed 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. 

The public comment period closed September 16, 2013. All comments and supporting information submitted are available at http://www.regulations.gov [Docket # FWS-ES-2012-0103] .

Q: Are there any public hearings scheduled?

A: The Service held three informational open houses followed by formal public hearings on August 6, 7 and, 2013, as follows:

August 6, 2013 at:
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Marine Resources Research Institute Auditorium
217 Ft. Johnson Rd., Charleston, SC 29412
Informational Open House: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Formal Public Hearing: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

August 7, 2013 at:
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Warwick Center, Ballroom 5
629 Hamilton Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403
Attendee campus parking is available in Lots ‘E’ and ‘M.’
Informational Open House: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Formal Public Hearing: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

August 8, 2013 at:
Crystal Coast Civic Center
3505 Arendell St., Morehead City, NC
Informational Open House: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Formal Public Hearing: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The open houses affords all interested parties an informal opportunity to talk with Service staff, hear information first hand, and ask questions about the proposed terrestrial critical habitat designation and associated draft economic analysis.  The public hearing provides a formal, structured listening session for Service staff and provides interested parties opportunity forum to verbally express their comments on the proposed terrestrial critical habitat designation and associated draft economic analysis and have those comments considered and added to the official decision record.

Transcripts for those hearings are available on this site, as well as  http://www.regulations.gov - public comments for docket # FWS-ES-2012-0103.

Q: Are comments received at public hearings given greater weight than those submitted in writing or vice versa?

A:  No. Written comments submitted during the comment periods receive equal consideration with those presented verbally at formal public hearings.  Additionally, all comments and information we receive during either of the open comment periods or at public hearings are considered in making our final decision.

Q: Do I need to resubmit my concerns and information that I posted during the first open comment period?

A: No. Comments and information previously submitted do not need to be resubmitted.  Those comments will be incorporated into our final review along with those received during the reopened comment period.


Federal Register Notice of Availability for Draft Economic Analysis - PDF version - 238KB

Draft Economic Analysis Report - PDF - 1.8MB

Direct link to submit comments via regulations.gov

Transcript from Charleston, SC Public Hearing held 8/6/2013 - PDF - 585KB

Transcript from Wilmington, NC Public Hearing held 8/7/2013 - PDF - 115KB

Transcript from Morehead City, NC Public Hearing held 8/8/2013 - PDF - 205KB New item icon

Map of Proposed Terrestrial Critical Habitat for Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles - PDF - 861KB

Map of existing Piping Plover Critical Habitat overlayed by Proposed Terrestrial Critical Habitat for Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles - PDF - 613KB

Map of existing Federally Listed Species Critical Habitat overlayed by Proposed Terrestrial Critical Habitat for Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles - PDF - - 950KB - Updated legend

Federal Register Notice for Proposed Critical Habitat (text) - PDF version - 9.44MB

Questions and Answers on the Proposed Critical Habitat

UTM Coordinates for nesting beaches included in the proposed critical habitat notice - PDF - 212KB

Link to Loggerhead photo on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41464593@N02/4606518414 [Photo caption: Loggerhead turtle. Larry Richardson, USFWS]

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service proposal to designate marine critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles - separate proposal soliciting separate public comment, see NMFS page for details


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Last updated: September 18, 2013