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Manatee Enforcement Effort slated for Brevard County

May 20, 2015

Several manatees casting a shadow from above.

Manatees at Crystal River NWR, FL. Photo: David Hinkel, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will initiate a joint enforcement effort over the weekend of May 22nd to enforce the federal and state Manatee zones in Brevard County. The joint enforcement effort will run from Friday, May 22nd through Monday, May 25th.

Along with USFWS and FWC agents and officers, numerous federal, state and local marine enforcement units from the area will be participating in the enforcement detail to enforce not only the manatee protection zones but other legal requirements on the water, as well.

In those areas where the federal and state zones are not identical, the more restrictive zone takes precedence. The web page maps provide a general overview of the areas that have manatee speed zones but are not a substitute for on-the-water markings. When in doubt, follow the rules as posted on the signs and delineated by the buoys throughout the designated areas in Brevard County to mark the regulated zones.

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Manatee protection zones and regulations
Areas designated as protected pursuant to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act

Secretary Jewell, Governor Jindal Announce Proposal to Remove Louisiana Black Bear from Endangered Species List
Successful partnership among states, federal agencies, landowners and universities has recovered iconic species that inspired the ‘Teddy Bear’

May 20, 2015

A Louisiana black bear standing in a grassy field

Louisiana black bear. Credit: Pam McIlhenny, used with permission.

BATON ROUGE, La. – Thanks to a highly successful public-private partnership spanning more than two decades, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the Louisiana black bear – the inspiration for the “Teddy Bear” – from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“The Louisiana black bear symbolizes how the Endangered Species Act can be a remarkably effective tool to protect and recover threatened and endangered species when we work in close partnership with states and other stakeholders,” Jewell said. “Across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, we have worked together with our partners to protect and restore habitat, reintroduce populations and reduce the threats to the bear. Today’s recovery of the bear is yet another success story of the Endangered Species Act.”

The Endangered Species Act has been a critical safety net for imperiled plants and wildlife for more than four decades, preventing more than 99 percent of the species listed from going extinct. In addition, the Act has helped to move many species from the brink of extinction to the path to recovery, including the American alligator, Florida panther, bald eagle, brown pelican and gray whale. The Obama Administration has removed from the endangered species list due to recovery more species than any prior administration.

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Read the Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

The Service will hold public hearings on the proposed rule, at the following locations:

June 23, 2015, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm CST
Tallulah Community Center
800 North Beech Street
Tallulah, Louisiana, 71282

June 25, 2015, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm CST
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70898

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Join Forces to Engage Urban Youth in Outdoor Education and Recreation at Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge

May 19, 2015

Fraternity brothers planting trees.

Planting trees commemorates partnership. Photo: Tom Mackenzie, USFWS

New Orleans, La. - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. signed the first local agreement implementing a partnership to encourage urban youth to learn more about conservation, the natural world, and biological sciences.

The certificate declares Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, which lies within and on the boundary of New Orleans East, a model partner site for the efforts with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Signatories included: Steve Guertin, Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arthur Thomas, President of the National Sigma Beta Club Foundation, and Stacy Armitage, Project Leader, Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges. The leadership was joined by Sigma Beta members, who helped plant a grove of twenty cypress trees at the refuge to dedicate the blossoming partnership. The trees were donated by Thom Pepper, Executive Director, Common Ground Relief, Inc. The trees that once grew there had been destroyed by the saltwater intrusion from Hurricane Katrina.

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Service Awards More Than $16 Million to Support Clean Waters and Recreational Boating Through Clean Vessel Act Grants
Southeast Region Gets Nearly $3.7 Million

May 13, 2015

Water flowing down stream over rocks and vegetation on the Conasauga River

The Rocks, Plantlife and Water of the Conasauga River. Photo: USFWS

America’s waterways provide critical wildlife habitat, drinking water for Americans across the country, and recreational opportunities to millions. To advance both purposes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today more than $16.2 million in funding to 27 states under the Clean Vessel Act (CVA) grant program.

In the Southeast Region, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee will benefit from coastal and inland projects with $3,689,478 in grant funding.

CVA provides grant funds for the construction, replacement, renovation and maintenance of facilities that assist recreational boaters in properly disposing of on-board septic waste. The program also provides information and education about the benefits of pumpout systems.

“The Clean Vessel Act is critical in helping states maintain clean and healthy waters,” said Service Deputy Director Steve Guertin, who announced the grants at the American Boating Congress annual meeting in Washington, D.C. “Systems built through these funds ensure that clean drinking water, sustainable ecosystems, and healthy recreational areas will be accessible to the American public and wildlife.”

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Remembering the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

May 12, 2015

Workers wearing gloves and plastic hazmat suits feed an injured bird

Workers feed an injured bird. Photo by USFWS

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven people lost their lives in the explosion, and life along the coast changed dramatically. As oil from the damaged well began flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, Service biologists were on high alert. The Gulf Coast region is a globally unique ecosystem that supports a high number of beach-nesting birds, such as sandwich terns, brown pelicans and Wilson’s plovers. At the time of the spill, these species were on the verge of nesting season, and oil would be detrimental to the birds. Nesting sea turtles were also in grave danger, and the embattled species was at risk of losing an entire nesting season.

While oil was still far from land, contaminants biologist Jon Hemming in the Service’s Panama City Field Office was already in response mode. He was in contact with another Service contaminants biologist, Pete Tuttle, who was stationed in Daphne, Alabama. Together, the two acted as first responders to the region. “We immediately began to coordinate, discussing the needs in Alabama and the Florida panhandle,” says Hemming.

Biologists only had days to figure out how to protect wildlife and minimize exposure to oil. This meant quickly organizing teams, deploying boats and helicopters, and forming strategies on how to protect sensitive lands. “Every day, we had to watch the projections, and match those with the proper ground response. This took coordination from the Department of Interior, Region 4 of the Service, refuges and field offices,” explains Hemming. “From former Secretary Salazar to biologists in the Atlanta Regional Office and project leaders in the field, we all had to work together.”

Read the full release...

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Last updated: May 21, 2015