Fish & Wildlife Service Header











Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
1875 Century Boulevard/Suite410
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289
Fax: 404/679-7286
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Marine Fisheries Service
9721 Executive Center Drive North
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Phone: 727/570-5312
Fax: 727/570-5517


Draft Economic Analysis of Impacts Associated With Proposed Critical Habitat for the Gulf Sturgeon Available for Public Comment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 8, 2002

Contact:
Jim Rothschild, FWS, 404/679-7291
Chris Smith, NOAA Fisheries, 727/570-5301

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) (collectively "the Services") have released for public review a draft report analyzing the potential economic impacts that could result from the proposed designation of critical habitat for the threatened Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi).

The Services proposed critical habitat on June 6, 2002, and are seeking public input on the draft economic analysis and the proposed critical habitat designation until October 7, 2002.

The Gulf sturgeon is an andromous fish (ascending rivers from the sea for breeding), inhabiting coastal waters from Louisiana through Florida during the warmer months and wintering in estuaries, bays, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Endangered Species Act requires the Services to consider potential economic impacts of a critical habitat designation when determining whether or not to designate critical habitat. If the benefits of excluding an area outweigh the benefits of including it, the Services may exclude an area from critical habitat, unless the exclusion would result in the extinction of the species.

Critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management and protection. A critical habitat designation does not establish a preserve or refuge nor does it affect individual citizens, organizations, states, local governments, or other non-federal entities that do not require federal permits or funding.

The following Gulf of Mexico rivers and tributaries are proposed as critical habitat for the
Gulf sturgeon: Pearl and Bogue Chitto Rivers in Louisiana and Mississippi; Pascagoula, Leaf, Bowie (also referred to as Bouie), Big Black Creek and Chicksawhay Rivers in Mississippi; Escambia, Conecuh, and Sepulga Rivers in Alabama and Florida; Yellow, Blackwater, and Shoal Rivers in Alabama and Florida; Choctawatchee and Pea Rivers in Florida and Alabama; Apalachicola and Brothers Rivers in Florida; and Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers in Florida.

The proposal also includes portions of the following estuarine and marine areas. Lake Pontchartrain (east of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway), Lake Catherine, Little Lake, the Rigolets, Lake Borgne, Pascagoula Bay and Mississippi Sound systems in Louisiana and Mississippi, and sections of the adjacent state waters within the Gulf of Mexico; Pensacola Bay system in Florida; Santa Rosa Sound in Florida; nearshore Gulf of Mexico in Florida; Choctawatchee Bay system in Florida; Apalachicola Bay system in Florida; and Suwannee Sound and adjacent state waters within the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. These geographic areas encompass approximately 1,580 river miles and 2,333 square miles of estuarine and marine habitat.

Four public hearings will be held on this proposal. The Services will hold informational meetings before each public hearing at the hearing location. The public information sessions will start at 5:00 p.m. and end at 6:30 p.m. The formal public hearings will start at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. at the following addresses on the dates indicated below:

  • August 19, 2002: Suwannee River Management District, 9225 C.R.49, Live Oak, Florida 32060. Please note the hearing address correction since the previous press release.

  • August 20, 2002: Chautauqua Building, Museum Room, 96 Circle Drive, Defuniak Springs, Florida 32435. Please note the hearing address correction since the previous press release.

  • August 21, 2002: J. L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium, 115 Beach Boulevard, Biloxi, Mississippi 39530.

  • August 22, 2003: Hilton New Orleans Airport, 901 Airline Drive, Kenner, Louisiana 70062

For a copy of the draft economic analysis of critical habitat designation or the proposed designation of critical habitat for the Gulf sturgeon, please visit the website: http://alabama.fws.gov/gs/ or contact Patty Kelly, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405 (telephone 850/769-0552, extension 228; facsimile 850/763-2177) or Stephania Bolden, NOAA Fisheries, at 9721 Executive Center Drive North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33702-2449, (telephone 727/570-5312, facsimile 727/570-5517)

The comment period that was announced in the proposed rule, 67 FR 39106, has been extended to allow a 60-day comment period. The revised comment period on both the proposed critical habitat designation and the draft economic analysis is now open and will close on October 7, 2002.

The Services will accept written comments from the public until October 7, 2002. Written comments on the Gulf sturgeon proposal and the draft economic analysis should be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Panama City Field Office, addressed to Patty Kelly, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405. Comments may also be faxed to 850/763-2177, or sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to gulfsturgeon@fws.gov.




Please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region website at
http://southeast.fws.gov.




NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2001 News Releases

   
| Home | Privacy Information | Site Map | Contact Site Administration | Got Fish & Wildlife Questions?