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Draft Economic Analysis for Proposed Revision of Critical Habitat for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August
17, 2007


Contacts:

Paul Souza, 772/562-3909 ext. 285
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291, USFWS


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the availability of a draft economic analysis of the proposed revision to critical habitat designated for the federally endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow. The analysis estimates potential future costs associated with conservation efforts for the sparrow in areas proposed for designation to be $32.2 million over the next 20 years.

The draft economic analysis identifies the majority of the total potential costs estimated are associated with species management efforts such as surveying and monitoring, research, exotic vegetation control and similar activities. Remaining costs are associated with potential water management changes to conserve the sparrow, fire management, and administrative costs. Costs from this proposal associated with water management activities are calculated for only the next five years.

The Service is reopening the public comment period for 30 days to allow interested parties to comment simultaneously on the proposed critical habitat revision and the associated draft economic analysis. A complete description of the proposed critical habitat revision was published in the Federal Register on October 31, 2006. The proposed rule, maps of proposed units, and the draft economic analysis can also be found at http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/, or can be requested 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 Service will accept comments from all interested parties until September 17, 2007. Written comments should be submitted to the South Florida Ecological Services Office, addressed to Tylan Dean, at the above address. Comments may also be faxed to 772/562-4288, or sent by electronic mail to: Tylan_Dean@fws.gov.

In addition, the Service has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed critical habitat revision and the draft economic analysis where public comments will be recorded. The hearing is scheduled for August 29, 2007, at the John D. Campbell Agricultural Center, 18710 S.W. 288th Street, Miami, Florida. An information session will precede the hearing, and will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The public hearing will then run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The Cape Sable seaside sparrow is a subspecies of seaside sparrow that inhabits marl or freshwater wet prairies or tidally-influenced brackish marshes in the Everglades region of southern Florida. The sparrow has been federally protected as an endangered species since 1967.

The Service is making this proposal in response to an order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to complete a final revision of critical habitat for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow by October 24, 2007.

This proposed revision updates the critical habitat for the sparrow that was designated in 1977. The proposed revision includes two units in an area known as Subpopulation A where critical habitat was not identified in 1977. Overall, the proposed revision, if adopted, will reduce the total acreage of designated critical habitat from 197,260 acres to approximately 156,350 acres by removing areas of unsuitable habitat that were included in the 1977 designation. The proposed critical habitat revision almost exclusively includes lands owned and managed by the National Park Service, South Florida Water Management District, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The proposed rule, maps of proposed units, and the draft economic analysis can be found at http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/.

When determining areas to designate as critical habitat, the Service considers physical and biological habitat features that are essential to the conservation of the species. These features may include space for individual and population growth and for normal behavior; cover or shelter; food, water, air; sites for breeding and rearing offspring; and habitats that are protected from disturbances or are representative of the historic geographical and ecological distributions of a species. As part of designating critical habitat, the Service also takes into account the economic impact, as well as any other relevant impacts, of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. The Service may exclude any area from critical habitat if it is determined that the benefits of excluding it outweigh the benefits of specifying the area as a part of critical habitat, unless it is determined that the failure to designate the area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species.

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 548 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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