Georgia Ecological Services Field Offices
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Service announces public hearing on proposed downlisting of red-cockaded woodpecker

November 12, 2020


On September 25, 2020, the Service proposed downlisting the red-cockaded woodpecker from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with a proposed 4(d) rule. The proposal follows decades of conservation partnerships on behalf of the woodpecker, which saw its populations and numbers increase across its range. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a public hearing on the proposed downlisting of the red-cockaded woodpecker. The virtual public hearing will be held on December 1, 2020 via Zoom and teleconference, in accordance with COVID-19 pandemic public gathering rules. Virtual meetings are also consistent with Service regulations at 50 CFR 424.16©(3).

Red-cockaded Woodpecker public hearing.





Sample of a HUC 10 guidance document.

HUC 10 Watershed Assessment Guidance

August 13, 2020







Screenshot of the online mapper to find a watershed.

Georgia's HUC 10 Guidance Tool has been updated!

Our office strives to provide information for project proponents as early as possible in their project planning. To meet some of those needs, we have developed a tool to help assess the potential for endangered and threatened species and guidance under the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act for each HUC 10 watershed in Georgia.

Each document only addresses species found within the state of Georgia. For watersheds that cross the state boundary, please contact the corresponding state's FWS field office and Department of Natural Resources (or their equivalent). Please note that these documents do not replace any requirements for consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, but provide general guidance for project planning.


For more information, please click on the following link HUC 10 Endangered and Threatened Species Guidance.





Federal Listing of the Trispot Darter (Etheostoma trisella)

January 28, 2019


Photo of Trispot Darter, photo credit: Pat O'Neil, Geological Survey of Alabama

A small, colorful fish found in the Coosa River Basin is now federally protected.

On January 29, 2018, the trispot darter was formally recognized as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now proposing exemptions to otherwise prohibited activities under the ESA. The exemptions, included in a 4(d) rule, mark the ESA’s flexibility in allowing for certain management activities to continue because of their overall benefit to the long-term status of the listed darter.

At the same time, the Service is proposing critical habitat for the darter.

The rule and proposals were published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2018 during the partial government shutdown. The public is invited to submit written comments and information on the proposed critical habitat rule and/or proposed 4(d) rule by February 26, 2019.

The trispot darter is a freshwater fish found in parts of the Coosa River Basin in southeastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and northern Alabama. The fish is most susceptible to threats that affect their access to spawning areas, including excessive groundwater withdrawals, drought, or construction of man-made structures like dams and road crossings that can limit or prevent its access; however, changes in habitat and poor water quality from pollution, sedimentation, agricultural and stormwater runoff can also affect critical life stages of the trispot darter which have been noted in the species decline.

Federal protections for the trispot will assist state and local efforts to protect the species by raising greater awareness of the threats to the fish and f ocusing conservation efforts on its behalf.

Exempted Activities

A 4(d) rule is a targeted approach that can reduce Endangered Species Act conflicts by allowing some activities that do not significantly harm the species to continue, while focusing efforts on addressing threats to the species’ recovery.

Critical Habitat

The proposed critical habitat designation for the trispot darter consists of 181 stream miles and 16,735 acres of occupied spawning habitat. Each state owns the navigable waters within its boundaries, and all known spawning habitat for the species is located on private lands.

Establishing critical habitat will raise awareness of the needs of the trispot darter and other imperiled species and focus the efforts of our conservation partners. It also alerts federal agencies that they are required to make special conservation efforts when they work, fund or permit activities in those areas.

For more information on the proposed 4(d) rule and Critical Habitat, please see the Federal Register notifications at the Environmental Conservation Online System.


For more information, please refer to the Regional Website and their summary of the Trispot darter listing.



Emergency Response and Endangered Species Act Consultation

October 19, 2018


Photo of Hurricane Florence, image by

Occasionally, federal agencies must respond to emergency situations where human life and property are in danger. Examples include oil spills, wildland fire, and weather events such as Hurricane Florence and Michael. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its implementing regulations recognize the need to respond immediately to emergencies and provide special procedures that allow federal agencies the latitude to complete their emergency responses in order to secure human life and property without delay, while still providing them with protections that normal compliance under the ESA would have afforded them.


For more information, please refer to the Regional Website and guidance on emergency consultation.



In Memoriam: Janice Wilcox

May 14, 2018

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Charlotte Janice Wilcox, Office Automation Assistant
for the Coastal Georgia Ecological Services office.

Photo of Janice


Charlotte "Janice" Wilson Wilcox, 66 of Waynesville, passed away Monday evening (May 14, 2018) at Mayo Clinic
Jacksonville, FL. following a sudden illness. Born in Waynesville, GA., her parents were Elbert James Wilson and
Nora Bell Altman Wilson. She was also preceded in death by her niece, Bonnie Wilson; great niece, Kylie Kindle;
and her infant brother, James Wilson.

Janice was a member of Waynesville Missionary Baptist Church and an Avid Worshiper of the Lord. She worked
many years as an Administrator for United States Fish and Wildlife Services and enjoyed crocheting, family
gatherings, and taking pictures.

Janice worked for the Coastal Georgia ES Office since 1996. Janice was a great supporter of the Service, and
a friend to all. She always had kind words for everyone she met, and was an office vanguard that was a highly
valued employee, but more importantly, a fantastic person.

Photo of Janice

Please send all initial project request correspondence that would have be sent to Ms. Janice for the Coastal Georgia (Townsend sub-office) to:



New Guidance on Incidental Take

April 26, 2018


The Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued guidance on the trigger for an incidental take permit under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act where occupied habitat or potentially occupied habitat is being modified.


For more information, please refer to the linked Memorandum(.pdf)



Protections Finalized for Threatened Northern Long-Eared Bats

Regulations focus on significant threats to the species so conservation efforts can be focused where they have

the greatest effect

January 14, 2016

Image of a Northern Long-eared Bat in a hibernaculum.

Northern long-eared bat. Photo by Pete Pattavina/USFWS


In an effort to conserve the northern long-eared bat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a final

rule today that uses flexibilities under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to tailor protections to

areas affected by white-nose syndrome during the bat’s most sensitive life stages. The rule is designed to protect

the bat while minimizing regulatory requirements for landowners, land managers, government agencies and

others within the species’ range.


“The overwhelming threat to the northern long-eared bat is white-nose syndrome,” said Service Director Dan

Ashe. “Until there is a solution to the white-nose syndrome crisis, the outlook for this bat will not improve. This

rule tailors regulatory protections in a way that makes sense and focuses protections where they will make a

difference for the bat.”


News Release (.pdf)

Final Rule (.pdf)

FAQs (.pdf)

Key to the Northern Long-Eared Bat 4(d) Rule for Non-Federal Activities (.pdf)

Key to the Northern Long-Eared Bat 4(d) Rule for Federal Actions that May Affect Northern Long-Eared Bats (.pdf)



Learn about Monarchs

Photo credit: Dawn Chappel


The monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable species of wildlife in all of America. They undertake one of the world’s most remarkable and fascinating migrations, traveling thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada.

North American monarch butterflies are in trouble. Threats, including loss of milkweed habitat needed to lay their eggs and for their caterpillars to eat, are having a devastating impact on their populations and the migration phenomenon. Unless we act now to help the Monarch, this amazing animal could disappear in our lifetime.

The state of Monarchs reflects the health of the American landscape and its pollinators. Monarch declines are symptomatic of environmental problems that also pose risks to food production, the spectacular natural places that help define our national identity, and our own health. Conserving and connecting habitat for monarchs will benefit many other plants and animals, including critical insect and avian pollinators, and future generations of Americans.

We can save the Monarch, but it will take a concerted national effort.

You can help!

Every backyard can become an oasis for monarchs and other pollinators—even in cities. Schools, youth and community groups, businesses, and state and local governments can engage in planting native milkweed and protecting monarch habitat along roadsides, rights of way, and other public and private lands. By enlisting a broad group of partners, from school children to CEOs, we will build a connected conservation constituency.



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Protects Northern Long-eared Bat as Threatened Under ESA

Also Issues Interim Special Rule that Tailors Protections to Eliminate Unnecessary Restrictions and Provide Regulatory Flexibility for Landowners

April 01, 2015

The Service announced today it is protecting the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, primarily due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated many bat populations. At the same time, the Service issued an interim 4(d) rule that eliminates unnecessary regulatory requirements for landowners, land managers, government agencies and others in the range of the northern long-eared bat.

The Service, states, federal agencies, tribes, conservation organizations and scientific institutions are working together as part of a national response team to address white-nose syndrome through disease monitoring and management, conservation and outreach. 

News Release >>

See Final Listing Rule and Interim 4(d) Rule in Federal Register here



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Special Rule to Focus Protections for Northern Long-Eared Bat

Rule Would Apply if Species is Listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

January 15, 2015

In response to the rapid and severe decline of the northern long-eared bat – a species important for crop pest control – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a special rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that would provide the maximum benefit to the species while limiting the regulatory burden on the public.

If finalized, the rule, under section 4(d) of the ESA, would apply only in the event the Service lists the bat as “threatened.” The Service’s proposal will appear in the Federal Register Jan. 16, 2015, opening a 60-day public comment period.

White-nose syndrome is having a devastating effect on the nation’s bat populations, which play a vital role in sustaining a healthy environment and save billions of dollars by controlling forest and agricultural pests,” said Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “We need to do what we can to make sure we are putting commonsense protections in place that support vulnerable bat species but are targeted to minimize impact on human activities. Through this proposed 4(d) rule, we are seeking public comment on how we can use the flexibilities inherent in the ESA to protect the bat and economic activity.”

Read full release here

Proposed 4(d) Rule for the Northern Long-eared Bat: Questions and Answers



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Period on Proposal to List the Northern Long-eared Bat as Endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the public comment period on a proposal to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Comments will be accepted through Dec. 18, 2014.  

The Service is reopening the comment period to alert the public to additional information provided by state conservation agencies within the range of the species.  The Service will consider this information, and all information received previously, while determining whether the northern long-eared bat warrants listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Reopening of the comment period will allow the public to provide comments on the proposed rule in light of that additional information.  A final decision on the proposal is due on April 2, 2015.


You may submit comments by one of the following methods:


(1)  Electronically:  Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal:  In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS–R5–ES–2011–0024, which is the docket number for this  rulemaking.  You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!''  Please ensure that  you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.


(2)  By hard copy:  Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:  Public Comments Processing, Attn:  FWS–R5–ES–2011–0024; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and  Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.


All comments will be posted on  This generally means we will post any personal information you provide us. If you previously submitted comments or information on the Oct. 2, 2013, proposed rule (78 FR 61046), please do not resubmit them.  We have incorporated them into the public record, and we will consider them fully in our final determination.  


To view the information provided by state agencies and other information about the northern long-eared bat, go to

In October 2013, the Service proposed to list the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species throughout its range, which includes 38 states and the District of Columbia.  The Service cited the species’ sharp decline due to impacts of a disease, white-nose syndrome, a disease that affects cave-hibernating bats.  On June 3, 2014, the Service announced a six-month extension of the final determination to list the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species and reopened the comment period for 60 days.  

 Questions and Answers: Re-opening Comment Period on the Proposal to List Northern Long-eared Bat as Endangered

Federal Register: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for the Northern Long-Eared Bat



U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Lists as Threatened and Designates Critical Habitat for Georgia Rockcress

The Georgia rockcress, is receiving protection as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.  The Georgia rockcress has been a candidate for listing as a threatened species under the ESA since 2000 and was proposed as threatened in September 2013. 

Final Listing Rule (.pdf)

The species is only found in Alabama and Georgia.  Approximately 732 acres (297 hectares) of riparian, river bluff habitat being designated as critical habitat.  The critical habitat is located in Georgia including Gordon, Floyd, Harris, Muscogee, and Clay Counties; and in Alabama, including Bibb, Dallas, Elmore, Monroe, Sumter and Wilcox Counties. 

Final Critical Habitat Rule (.pdf)

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Jimmy Rickard at 706-613-9493 or via email at .

Copies of the rule which include maps are also available by contacting Jimmy Rickard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Ecological Services Office, 105 Westpark Dr., Suite D, Athens, Georgia 30606 (telephone 706/613-9493, extension 223; facsimile 706/613-6059). 



Service Lists and Designates Critical Habitat for Three Endangered Plants Under Endangered Species Act


Short's bladderpod and Whorled Sunflower

Short's bladderpod - photo credit: John MacGregor
Whorled Sunflower - photo credit: Alan Cressler

Three rare plants found in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee are now protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This protection becomes final on September 2, 2014, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The plants, which are listed as endangered, are the fleshy-fruit gladecress, whorled sunflower, and Short’s bladderpod.

Final Listing Rule (.pdf)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating critical habitat for three endangered plants found in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee This critical habitat designation becomes final on September 25, 2014, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Service has identified 2,488 acres in 31 units as habitat critical to the plants’ survival.

Final Critical Habitat Rule (.pdf)

Short’s bladderpod is found in Posey County, Indiana; Clark, Franklin, and Woodford Counties Kentucky; and Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Jackson, Montgomery, Smith, and Trousdale Counties. Tennessee. The whorled sunflower is found in Floyd County, Georgia; Cherokee County, Alabama, and Madison and McNairy Counties, Tennessee. The fleshy-fruit gladecress is found in Lawrence and Morgan Counties, Alabama.


If you have questions or need more information, please contact Geoff Call in the Service’s Tennessee Field Office at 931-525-4983, or via e-mail at For fleshy fruit gladecress, please contact Shannon Holbrook in the Service’s Alabama Field Office at 251-441-5871, or via e-mail at


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes Threatened Status and Critical Habitat Designation for the Georgia Rockcress

Georgia rockcress

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the Georgia rockcress as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Only found in Georgia and Alabama, the plant has been a candidate for listing as a Threatened species since 2000.

At the same time, the Service also is proposing to designate about 786 acres of river bluff habitat as the plant’s critical habitat.  The proposed critical habitat areas in Georgia include lands in Gordon, Floyd, Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, and Clay Counties.  In Alabama, the proposed critical habitat designation includes areas in Bibb, Dallas, Elmore, Monroe, Russell, Sumter and Wilcox Counties.


Press Release (.pdf)

Proposed Listing Rule (.pdf)

Proposed Critical Habitat Rule (.pdf)

UTM Coordinates for Proposed Critical Habitat (.pdf)


Service releases draft economic analysis for Coastal Beach Critical Habitat previously proposed for the Recovery of Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is releasing the estimated cost and economic impacts of its proposal to designate terrestrial critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic population of loggerhead sea turtles in coastal areas of six southeastern U.S. states.

The draft economic analysis considered the potential impact of the designation on various sectors of the economy. On average, of the potential annual $150,000 costs associated with the designation, 46% would be borne by the Service, 38% by other Federal Agency costs, and the remaining 16% to the project proponents. These proponents could include counties doing beach nourishment projects, or private or corporate applicants doing some type of beach construction.

In association with the Notice of Availability, which publishes in the Federal Register tomorrow, the Service has in response to public requests also scheduled three public hearings: August 6 in Charleston, SC; August 7 in Wilmington, NC and August 8 in Morehead City, NC. See the notice and press release for full details.

The Service is also re-opening the public comment period for 60 days on the proposal and the associated draft economic analysis.

Written comments and materials concerning the economic analysis or any aspect of the proposed critical habitat designation may be submitted electronically (preferred) at under docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103 or via mail to Public Comments Processing; Attn: Docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

All electronic comments must be received by 11:59 PM, September 16, 2013. Comments and materials submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than September 16, 2013. All comments must include a first and last name, city, state, country and zip code.

Comments and information previously submitted need not be resubmitted; these will beincorporated with all other comments and considered in making the final decision.

Federal Register Notice of Availability for Draft Economic Analysis - PDF version - 238KB

Direct link to submit comments via

Draft Economic Analysis Report - PDF - 1.8MB

Federal Register Notice for Proposed Critical Habitat (text) - PDF version - 9.44MB


Click here for more information on the Draft Economic Analysis Report or the Proposed Critical Habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Population of Loggerhead Sea Turtles.



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Endangered Species Act Protection and Critical Habitat Designation for Three Plants in the Southeast


Short's bladderpod and Whorled Sunflower

Short's bladderpod - photo credit: John MacGregor
Whorled Sunflower - photo credit: Alan Cressler



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list three plants as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. At the same time, the Service also proposes to designate critical habitat for these species. Those plants are Short’s bladderpod, whorled sunflower, and fleshy-fruit gladecress. Collectively, these plants occur in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Alabama.

News Release (.pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions (.pdf)

Proposed Listing Rule (.pdf)

Proposed Critical Habitat Rule (.pdf)



Recovering the robust redhorse - a fish once thought to be extinct

Robust redhorse

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Georgia Power, the State of Georgia, the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners to recover the robust redhorse—a fish once thought to be extinct. Click HERE to watch a video about the effort.




Stream Crossing Initiative

Athens ES Office embarks on a stream crossing initiative to make stream crossings more passable by fish and other wildlife.

Culvert image

Stream-road crossings can impede the upstream and downstream movement of aquatic organisms, including fish, salamanders, and invertebrates. Consequently, the US Army Corps of Engineers worked with state and federal natural resource agencies to develop specific Regional Conditions that are intended to minimize impacts to fish passage following the construction of crossings. This website offers valuable resources to those wanting to learn more about the importance of fish passage, general methods that can be used to minimize impacts to streams, and guidance to those that are applying for permits to build culverts and bridges. Examples of fish passable and impassable crossings are provided, along with a fact sheet that describes this initiative.

Endangered Species

Click here for more information about endandgered species that occur in Georgia.
Conasauga Logperch Range





Emergency Consultation

NOAA image of Hurricane Florence 2018


Stream Temperature Monitoring


Stream Crossing Handbook now available for download

Stream Crossing Handbook


Finding a Killer: On the Trail of White-nose Syndrome

GA DNR biologist surveys bats


Speeding up Nature by Thousands of Years

Last updated: January 14, 2016