News Release
Southeast Region

 

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Service Estimates Economic Impacts of Critical Habitat Designation for Cape Sable Thoroughwort in South Florida

Also Re-opening Comment Period for Three Plants

July 8, 2013

Contacts:

 

VERO BEACH, Fla. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is releasing the estimated cost and economic impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation of the Cape Sable thoroughwort in South Florida and is seeking public comment.

At the same time, the Service also is re-opening the public comment period for 30 days on the proposed listing of the Cape Sable thoroughwort, Florida semaphore cactus, and aboriginal prickly-apple.

On October 11, 2012, the Service proposed listing the three South Florida plants as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed to designate critical habitat for the Cape Sable thoroughwort in locations where the species currently exists or historically existed and could be reintroduced.

Nine areas are being considered as critical habitat for the thoroughwort and encompass 8,565 acres of habitat in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties, Florida. The proposed designation includes areas currently occupied by the plant, and historical and now unoccupied areas that are essential to the plant’s conservation. More than 90 percent of the proposed designation is made up of lands already publicly owned.

The Service has conducted a draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat designation for the thoroughwort as required under the ESA. The analysis considered the potential impact of the designation on various sectors of the economy. Based on the best available information, including extensive discussions with stakeholders, the Service estimates the critical habitat designation will result in direct incremental costs of between $578,000 to $982,000 over the next 20 years or $38,000 to $49,000 on an annual basis. The Service estimates 93 percent of the costs are attributable to federal land management and restoration and conservation activities, and the remaining costs are attributable to development in the area. Most of these costs are administrative and are borne by federal and state agencies; however, some costs may be incurred by local governments and businesses. These costs stem from the requirement for federal agencies to consult with the Service regarding the impacts of their actions, or those that they fund or authorize, on critical habitat.

The Service anticipates the proposed designation will have minimal effects, if any, on small businesses. More details on the methods used to generate these estimates, as well as the estimated impacts, are available in the draft economic analysis.

Critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and which may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat will help ensure that federal agencies and the public are aware of Cape Sable thoroughwort’s habitat needs and proper consultation is conducted by federal agencies when required by law.

Designating critical habitat does not set up a preserve or refuge, and only applies to situations where federal funding or a federal permit is involved. It does not allow government or public access to private land. Federal agencies that undertake, fund, or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat.

Cape Sable thoroughwort is a flowering perennial herb approximately six to 10 inches tall with blue to lavender flowers and may be found in a variety of south Florida’s tropical habitats including rockland hammocks, coastal hardwood hammocks, buttonwood forests, coastal rock barrens and coastal berms.

Cape Sable thoroughwort historically ranged from Monroe County, both on the Florida mainland and the Florida Keys, and in Miami-Dade County along Florida Bay. In mainland Monroe County, it lives in Everglades National Park. The plant no longer exists on half of the islands where it was previously found in the Florida Keys. It currently is found on Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys, Lignumvitae Key, Long Key, Big Munson Island, and Boca Grande Key.

Primary threats to the Cape Sable thoroughwort are habitat loss or modification from coastal and recreational development, sea level rise, hurricanes, storm surge events, competition from non-native plants, and existing in small and isolated populations with a restricted range.

The draft economic analysis for the Cape Sable thoroughwort is available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket # FWS–R4–ES–2013–0029, or on the Service's website at http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/Index.html. You may obtain copies of the October 11, 2012, proposed rule on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2012–0076, or on the Service's website at http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/Index.html

The public may mail comments and materials concerning the economic analysis for the Cape Sable thoroughwort, or the proposed listing of Cape Sable thoroughwort, Florida semaphore cactus and aboriginal prickly-apple to Public Comments Processing. Submit comments on the listing proposals to Attn: Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2012–0076, and submit comments on the critical habitat proposal and the associated draft economic analysis to Attn: Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2013–0029; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments also can be filed electronically at http://www.regulations.gov by using the above docket numbers.

All comments must be received by August 7, 2013, and must include a first and last name, city, state, country and zip code. If comments have been submitted previously, when the proposed rule was initially announced in October 11, 2012, they do not need to be resubmitted. Any comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Office, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960; by telephone 772–562–3909; or by facsimile 772–562–4288.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/southeast.  Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws, and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.

 

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Last updated: October 24, 2013