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Critical Habitat Designated for Three Endangered Beach Mice


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2006


Contacts:
Janet Mizzi, 850/769-0552, ext. 247
Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published today a final rule designating approximately 6,193 acres of critical habitat for three endangered beach mouse subspecies—the Perdido Key beach mouse, Choctawhatchee beach mouse and St. Andrew beach mouse. Areas designated as critical habitat include coastal dunes in southern Alabama and the panhandle of Florida.

The Service designated 13 units along portions of coastal dunes in southern Alabama and the panhandle of Florida as critical habitat for the three subspecies of beach mice. These include five units totaling 1,300 acres for the Perdido Key beach mouse in Escambia County, Florida, and Baldwin County, Alabama; five units totaling 2,404 acres for the Choctawhatchee beach mouse in Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay counties, Florida; and three units totaling 2,490 acres for the St. Andrew beach mouse in Bay and Gulf counties, Florida. The final rule designating critical habitat includes a revision of the Perdido Key beach mouse and Choctawhatchee beach mouse critical habitat.

Impacts associated with conservation activities for the three beach mouse sub-species are estimated to range from approximately $93.4 to $174.9 million over the next 20 years. Ninety five to ninety-seven percent of the estimated costs is from effects on the commercial development industry.

“This critical habitat designation will provide benefits to the beach mice by informing the public of areas that are important to the species recovery and identifying where conservation actions would be most effective,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

A complete description of the critical habitat designation has been published in the Federal Register today. Copies of the final 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). The final rule and maps can also be found on our website at http://www.fws.gov/panamacity/.

This rule was prepared pursuant to a court order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama requiring the Service to submit a final revision of critical habitat for the Perdido Key beach mouse and the Choctawhatchee beach mouse. This order also includes the Alabama beach mouse, which is being addressed in a separate rule. Additionally, this final rule responds to an order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of Florida to publish a new final decision with respect to the designation of critical habitat for the St. Andrew beach mouse on or before September 30, 2006.

Critical habitat is a term used in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 that 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.

The 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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 70 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.

 


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



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