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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revision of Critical Habitat for Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2006


Contacts:
Paul Souza, 772/562-3909 ext. 284
Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed revisions to a critical habitat designation for the federally endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow, a bird found in southern Florida. The proposed revision will reduce the total acreage of critical habitat from 197,260 acres to approximately 156,350 acres.

“This revised designation will better identify to interested citizens and our conservation partners where important habitat for sparrows occurs and where we should focus our conservation efforts,” said Paul Souza, acting field supervisor for the Service’s South Florida Ecological Services Office.

Critical habitat, a term used in the Endangered Species Act, refers to specific geographic areas with features that are essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management. The Cape Sable seaside sparrow is closely associated with habitat including freshwater marl prairie and mixed cordgrass marsh. The revised proposal omits several areas originally designated as critical habitat in 1977 that were determined not to be sparrow habitat. These include forested areas of Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park, dwarf cypress forests in Everglades National Park, deep water slough communities, and agricultural areas.

The Service proposes to designate seven units as critical habitat for the sparrow in southern Florida. One unit contains both mixed cordgrass marsh and freshwater marl prairie habitats and overlaps the boundary of Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. The remaining six units contain freshwater marl prairie habitat. Of these, four units are exclusively within Everglades National Park. One overlaps the boundary of Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park and another unit overlaps the boundary of Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area and Everglades National Park.

The Cape Sable seaside sparrow is a subspecies of seaside sparrow that inhabits freshwater marl prairies or tidally-influenced brackish marshes in southern Florida. The sparrow has been federally protected as an endangered species since 1967. Critical habitat for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow was designated in 1977. In 1999, the Service was petitioned to revise the existing critical habitat. The Service is making this proposal in response to an order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to submit a proposed revision of critical habitat for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow for publication by October 24, 2006.

A complete description of the proposed critical habitat revision has been published in today’s Federal Register. Copies of the proposal which includes maps are available by contacting Tylan Dean, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Office, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, Florida 32960 (telephone 772/562-3909, extension 284; facsimile 772/562-4288). The proposal and maps can also be found at http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/.

The Service will accept comments from all interested parties until January 2, 2007. Written comments on the Cape Sable seaside sparrow proposal should be submitted to the South Florida Ecological Services Office, addressed to Tylan Dean at the above address. Written comments can be delivered to the South Florida Ecological Services Office at the above address. Comments may be faxed to 772/562-4288, or sent by electronic mail to tylan_dean@fws.gov.

The Service must receive any written comments for public hearings on this proposed revision of critical habitat by December 15, 2006. Please contact the South Florida Ecological Services Field Office at the above address.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 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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