Draft Economic Analysis of Conservation Action to Protect Beach Mice Released
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will release an analysis that estimates costs related to the proposed critical habitat and conservation of the Perdido Key beach mouse, the Choctawhatchee beach mouse, and the St. Andrew beach mouse at a range of $52.5 million to $99.4 million over the next 20 years. A notice of availability of the economic analysis will be published in the Fe deral Register on June 16, 2006.
In releasing the analysis, the Service also reopened the public comment period on a revision to the proposed critical habitat for the three mice to allow for public review of a modification to the boundary of proposed critical habitat units PKBM-5 and CBM-5, and a correction made in the proposed rule. The Service will accept public comments until July 17, 2006.
Two public hearings will be held on the critical habitat proposal. The Service will hold informational meetings before each public hearing at the hearing location. The public information sessions will start at 5 p.m. and end at 6:30 p.m. The formal public hearings will start at 6:30 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. at the following addresses on the dates indicated below:
June 26, 2006: Gulf Coast Community College, Student Union, East Building, Conference Center, 5230 West U.S. Highway 98, Panama City, Florida 32401.
June 27, 2006: Perdido Bay Community Center, 13660 Innerarity Point Road, Pensacola, Florida 32507.
The Perdido Key beach mouse, Choctawhatchee beach mouse, and St. Andrew beach mouse are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) wherever they occur and Federal agencies are required to consult on any action they take that might affect the species. The designation of critical habitat will help the species by ensuring that Federal agencies and the public are aware of the habitat needs of this species and that proper consultation is conducted by Federal agencies when required.
Critical habitat is a term used in the ESA. It identifies 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. Critical habitat does not include existing developed sites within the proposed units such as roads, driveways, or buildings.
Areas proposed as critical habitat include 13 units along portions of coastal dunes in southern Alabama and the panhandle of Florida is designated as critical habitat for the three subspecies of beach mice. These include five units for the Perdido Key beach mouse in Escambia County, Florida, and Baldwin County, Alabama, five units for the Choctawhatchee beach mouse in Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties, Florida, and three units for the St. Andrew beach mouse in Bay and Gulf Counties, Florida. The units total approximately 6,416 acres of habitat.
The draft economic analysis for these three beach mice identifies potential costs of approximately $52.5 million to $99.4 million over a 20-year period or approximately $5 million to $9.4 million annually as a result of the proposed designation of critical habitat.
This includes costs resulting from the listing and the proposed critical habitat designation. The Endangered Species Act requires the Service 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.
Copies of the economic analysis, proposed rule, and maps are available by contacting Sandra Sneckenberger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405 (telephone 850/769-0552, extension 239; facsimile 850/763-2177). These documents can also be found at http://www.fws.gov/panamacity/.
Written comments should be submitted to the Panama City Field Office, addressed to Sandra Sneckenberger, at the above address. Written comments can be delivered to the Panama City Field Office at the above address. Comments may also be faxed to 850/763-2177, or sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to email@example.com. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they will be incorporated into the public record as part of this comment period and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.
he U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 546 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 81 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. Visit the Service’s website at http://www.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://www.fws.gov/southeast/news. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/. Atlanta, GA 30345, Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286